The Triad Nature - Nurture - Culture and the Social Justice in the Context of the Current Crises Economy Near Us (LII)
Nature - nurture - culture
Discussions about the trinomial nature - nurture - culture back in topically in situations where our living conditions are threatened. Whenever our minimal comfort is threatened, we turn to values such as personal identity, self-respect, ethics, morality, equity etc. and call for measures of justice (global, climate, energy, social etc.), trying to find solutions, again starting from the analysis of the main values that govern our existence. A brief discussion of the elements of the triad will help us understand its implication in today’s reality of economic change.
Thus, the first link of the trinomial to which we have referred is human nature, which we consider to be primarily a result/consequence of genetic inheritance, of the origin of each individual, but also a result of experiences. Nurture refers to the time given to the acquisition of certain knowledge, skills, training time, education time, with an impact on changing human behaviour. The influence of social factors on human nature and nurture shows us that individuals are driven by their genetically inherited instincts, but also by free will. How they express these instincts shapes the economic, social and cultural environment. The two have an important impact on the third, cultural link, which we see as a binder between decisions to destroy and/or preserve the community’s present knowledge and experiences, the only link responsible for ensuring the survival of the community’s wealth for future generations.
Human culture has not evolved in isolation, it has co-evolved with aspects of human cognition, behaviour and the ability of individuals to cooperate. Culture includes essential elements such as norms, faiths, values, principles, customs, traditions, but also socially (not genetically) transmitted principles of social and moral ethics that shape and are specific to a community. Common patterns of behaviour in turn influence the natural, social, cultural and economic mechanisms that operate within the community.
Anchoring these concepts in today’s reality, in order to manage the available natural resources and to satisfy the consumption needs of individuals without harming future generations, a redesign of the current economic models is required/imposed, dimensioning the consumption preferences of individuals (influenced lately both by the COVID-19 pandemic, the military conflict in the region and the effects of the upcoming food crisis), redesigning economic activities with a negative impact on the environment through the development of digital technologies, digitisation and the creation of digital innovation centres and other measures needed to ensure the common good. The nature-nurture-culture triad, through the changes it generates in the behaviour of individuals, must ensure that these transformations are possible.
The theoretical components of social justice that we will refer to take into account the views of Rawls, Nozick and Martha C. Nussbaum. We thus assume that justice is that state of a social system which checks positive law (the rights of individuals are publicly codified by legal norms with different legal force) and is done by not violating positive norms.
Rawls’ theory of social justice introduces the concept of social justice as equity or fairness and establishes the two principles of social justice, the principle of equal liberty and the principle of difference, which admit that increasing inequality (the case of the first principle) is acceptable only if the most disadvantaged group in society gains more in this case than in any other possible case. What defines social justice as fairness is that the most important object of social justice is the basic structure of society, the way in which institutions distribute basic rights and duties and determine the distribution of the benefits of social cooperation. It is accepted that social justice is the first virtue of (social, Rawls points out) institutions, and individual social justice cannot be defeated by the welfare of all. The theory of social justice as fairness contains two principles: 1) each person must have an equal right to the broadest scheme of fundamental equal (individual) rights compatible with a similar scheme of rights for others; 2) economic and social inequalities must be arranged so that they can reasonably be expected to benefit all and to be associated with roles and functions accessible to all.
Nozick introduces the entitlement right into political and social philosophy and suggests three principles of entitlement right instead of the two Rawlsian principles: the principle of acquisition, the principle of transfer and the principle of rectification. Nozick’s conception of justice concerns the mechanism of the emergence of the minimal state, known as the night watchman state, which required the state to perform minimal functions (respect for law and order, measures against violence, the fight against foreign aggressors, the limitation of theft and fraud). In its evolution the state had to provide other functions that could not be limited to the previously mentioned categories and thus the state that performed such functions was called the minimal state. In the liberal understanding, it was accepted that the more functions the state had, the greater the infringement of the rights of individuals.
Nussbaum’s social justice theory has at its core the concept of human dignity and is based on a list of ten human capabilities – capability is defined to be what man is capable of doing and being (1. life, 2. bodily health, 3. bodily integrity, 4. senses, imagination and thought, 5. emotions; 6. practical reason; 7. affiliation; 8. other species; 9. play; 10. control of one’s environment) and a threshold indicating the minimum social justice requirements that state institutions must provide for all individuals. Human dignity provides every individual with the right to a decent life, regardless of whether they have access to these capabilities or whether it is because of a deprivation that arose through no fault of their own or because they chose to do so, does not mean that they should not be provided with a decent life. The conceptual crucible of basic principles and rights that must be provided to individuals can and should be an important element in the construction of the social justice measures that our communities face today.
Crises (economic, financial, social, health, environmental, political, military) cannot be analysed individually; the effects of one are the causes of others.
The negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy have been the collapse of international trade, disruption of supply chains, restrictions on the mobility of workers and the functioning of economic activities, leading to increased economic inequality and absolute poverty.
The current military conflict in the region has generated shocks both in terms of price and supply of electricity and natural gas, thus creating an inflationary pressure in the economy and affecting the prices of basic consumer goods and other essential products for the population, countries in the region trying to find solutions as quickly as possible for other sources of supply of electricity and natural gas. Last but not least, the risk in the region limits access to financing and increases borrowing costs, but also reduces the profitability of economic activities which consume natural gas and electricity. Thus, we can estimate that if European GDP falls, Romania will also experience undesirable effects, given its traditional trade relations with Central and Western European countries.
The food crisis is only beginning, it will generate new waves of emigrants. The prices of basic foodstuffs will continue to rise without any guarantee that they will stabilise, a change in food consumption behaviour is expected, as natural/food resources will not be sufficient to ensure a certain rate of development of economic activities and individuals will turn to cheap products, which will lead to a deterioration in the quality of life. The danger faced by Romania, which is a significant agricultural producer but lacks the capacity to process its own products and is therefore vulnerable to food imports, can be mitigated by encouraging the emergence of Romanian products on the domestic market and the reduction of food imports.