Ethics and Mathematics in Our Time

E=mc2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ethics has been a very important matter for most philosophers for a lot of time, probably, because they intuited that there is a strong link between ethics and how the world is working. In a high tech world, dominated by mathematics finding that link seems to be more difficult but it would be possible to link ethics to performance in a formal way through complexity.

Ethics define a way of behavior that is considered good, other behaviors are considered bad and they must not be followed. If people make their tasks following a certain predefined behavior the system will work in lower number of possible states. This fact implies that the system will work in a more predictable way or in other words with lower complexity. As complexity can be linked to a good state of a business, we can see directly how important is an ethical behavior in a business.

Although someone can thought that Nicola Machiavelli would not agree with this mathematical sentence, I do not think so, I think that he would continue with his thoughts taking advantage of the sentence because what is reducing complexity is the predictable behavior, but we have established nothing about what is good or what is bad. Machiavellian rules are also imposing a certain way of behavior that is consider good in order that a politician can manage a society in the “best way”.

But can a Machiavellian management be reducing complexity? I do not think so. For instance, Machiavelli is a defender of lies. Although a liar follows a certain way of behavior, it is much less predictable than the behavior of a man that always says the truth. In that case, the uncertainty that a Machiavellian manager can introduce in a business can be enough in order to destroy it when something unexpected could happen. We have been able to see this many times, as the famous case of the energy company Enron.

Corporate Social Responsibility is much more than a way to pay a set of quality consultants; it is a way to reduce complexity of the company, but it is only effective if the ethical values are well chosen and well implemented at the culture of the company. But, how many consultants analyze the complexity of a corporate value in a similar way when they are implementing a corporate social responsibility system? I suppose that no many of them. Even sometimes, a corporate social responsibility system can become Machiavellian.

Do you know a company with some kind of quality system that does not include innovation as one of its corporate values? A few ones, however, most of the businesses are not innovative, then, there must be a little lie yet. It is not bad to be persevering instead of creative or precise instead of innovative when it can be a good competitive advantage for our business, however, corporate social responsibility standards usually include innovation as a must.

Although, of course, I am a strong defender of innovation, I think that, almost certainly, ethics without innovation can produce a less complex and more manageable business than a false innovation without ethics. It is similar to a man that uses the image of another renowned one in order to be better accepted by the society.

And remember, although ethics is not related to mathematics, the effect of ethics (or the lack of it) in a business can be mathematically measured through complexity.


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