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Gerecht Konsumieren

Gassner, Franz (2012) Gerecht Konsumieren.
Dissertation, University of Vienna. Katholisch-Theologische Fakultät
BetreuerIn: Gabriel, Ingeborg

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DOI: 10.25365/thesis.25513
URN: urn:nbn:at:at-ubw:1-30098.14297.783366-2

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Abstract in German

Moderne Gesellschaften zeichnen sich dadurch aus, dass vielen Menschen immer mehr Güter, Dienstleistungen und Optionen zur Verfügung stehen. Die vorliegende Untersuchung widmet sich den auftretenden konsumethischen Herausforderungen dieser gesellschaftlichen Realität in sozialethischer und theologischer Perspektive. Speziell verfolgt sie die Forschungsfrage, welche ethischen und spirituell-religiösen Potentiale und Ressourcen Konsumieren verträglicher (selbstverträglich, sozialverträglich, ökologieverträglich, systemverträglich) machen können. Das erste Kapitel (Situationsanalyse) geht auf Ursachen und Entwicklungslinien heutiger Gesellschaften ein. Den positiven Aspekten des materiellen Wohlstandes für viele stehen gravierende Mängel und Bedrohungen gegenüber, auf individueller Ebene (Süchte, Sinn- und Identitätsfragen), auf ökologischer Ebene (Verlust der Biodiversität, Klimawandel, Ressourcenfragen etc.), auf sozialer Ebene (Hunger, Bedrohung des Menschenrechtes auf Nahrung und der Ernährungssouveränität, Überernährung, Lebensmittelabfälle, steigender Migrationsdruck), intergenerationeller und systemischer Ebene (Gefährdungen für Demokratie, Weltfrieden und die ökonomische und finanzielle Stabilität). Immer deutlicher zeigt sich, dass unbedachte, ressourcenintensive Wegwerfgesellschaften ethisch nicht vertretbar sind. Die Steigerung von Effizienz allein reicht nun nicht aus, um Gesellschaften auf verträglichere (nachhaltigere) Pfade zu bringen, da der Reboundeffekt (Bumerangeffekt) von Konsum die gemachten Einsparungen (z.B. von Emissionen) durch Konsumausweitungen wett macht. Dieser ist auch ein Grund dafür, warum Bemühungen um nachhaltigere Konsummuster bisher nicht die gewünschten Erfolge aufweisen können. Es braucht zusätzlich zu Effizienzbemühungen vor allem kohärente strukturelle und institutionelle Reformen auf Basis des Konsistenzprinzips (Implementierung von Kostenwahrheit durch Internalisierung externalisierter Kosten, Priorität für Kreislaufsysteme anstatt end-of-pipe-Lösungen). Das dritte wesentliche Element und missing link neben Effizienz und Konsistenz stellt das Prinzip Suffizienz dar, d.h. Fragen nach maßvollen und genügsamen Lebensstilen und Gesellschaften. Die Umsetzung der Suffizienzstrategie bedarf grundlegender Einstellungs- und Verhaltensänderungen, von Lebensstilen, Produktions- und Konsummustern und gesellschaftspolitischen Rahmenordnungen. Im gewissen Sinne relativieren die Prinzipien Konsistenz und Suffizienz die Gültigkeit des herkömmlichen (quantitativen) Verständnisses von Wachstum, wobei der praktische Weg hin zu suffizienten Gesellschaften weitgehend ungelöst ist. Der sozialwissenschaftliche Teil (Kapitel 2) fokussiert auf die Enttraditionalisierung und Sinnentleerung in neokonsumistischen Gesellschaften (Manfred Prisching), welche den Aufbau einer konsumistischen Identität ermöglichen sollen. Die ständig steigende Optionenzahl führt aber zu Versäumnis- und Enttäuschungsgesellschaften. Ähnlich reflektiert die Ökonomin und Soziologin Juliet Schor kritisch den sich aufschaukelnden Arbeits-Konsum-Kreislauf und plädiert für eine freiwillige Reduktion von Erwerbsarbeit und Konsum zur Verbesserung der Lebensqualität (Downshifterbewegung). Dazu formuliert Schor individualethische Prinzipien eines neuen Konsumverhaltens. Im Kontext eines überbordenden Güterwohlstandes (passives Konsumieren) plädiert die Ökonomin Lucia Reisch für mehr Zeitwohlstand und intrinsisch motiviertes aktives Konsumieren. Da aktive und passive Konsumformen miteinander um die knappe (Konsum)Zeit konkurrieren, geht ein Überwiegen des materiellen Ausstattungsnutzens zum Schaden des immateriellen Handlungsnutzens von Konsum. Kapitel 3 fokussiert auf die neuzeitliche Entfesselung der Produktivkräfte und Entfaltung der menschlichen Bedürfnisse, welche zur heutigen Herausforderung führt, das Bedürfnisleben verträglicher zu gestalten. Oberstes normatives Ziel der Bedürfnisgerechtigkeit ist, dass notwendige Basisbedürfnisse (basic needs) nicht Opfer einer Ausweitung von kulturellen Zusatzwünschen (wants) werden. Gründliche Bedürfnisreflexionen auf individueller und (globaler) gesellschaftlicher Ebene verbunden mit der Implementierung konsistenter Rahmenordnungen sind hier erforderlich, um Bedürfnisse gerecht, balanciert, erfüllend (nicht-täuschend) befriedigen zu können, wozu auch ein konstruktiver Umgang mit Grenzen zählt. Kapitel 4 untersucht konsumethische Ansätze im Hinblick auf die Forschungsfrage. Der Ansatz von David Crocker liefert wertvolle individualethische normative Einsichten. Konsumakte sollen die wesentlichen Fähigkeiten und Funktionen des Menschen nicht beeinträchtigen, sondern zu ihrer ausgewogenen Entfaltung beitragen, wozu es einer adäquaten Auffassung von menschlichem Wohlbefinden bedarf. Der prinzipienethische Ansatz Adela Cortinas öffnet den Blick für die sozialen Auswirkungen von Konsum. Auf Kant aufbauend, formuliert Cortina universale konsumethische Normen, wobei der Mensch sich zuerst als verantwortlicher Bürger verstehen sollte. Für Michael Neuner ist eine wesentliche Konsumnorm das Kriterium der humanen Angemessenheit, wozu Prozesse der Selbsterkundung notwendig sind, d.h. Aufklärung über Präferenzen und Bedürfnisse. Diese so qualifizierten Bedürfnisse entsprechen dem Kriterium der humanen Angemessenheit, wobei ein höherer Wert (Bedürfnis) seine Überlegenheit darin zeigt, dass er sich nicht aufbraucht. Weiters legt Neuner den Fokus auf die strukturellen Bedingungen für ein verantwortliches Konsumentenverhalten, da für eine Entwicklung nachhaltiger Konsummuster die Wechselwirkungen von Individuum und Institutionen besser beachtet werden müssen. Birger Priddat weist auf die steigende Relevanz des moralischen Konsums hin, bei dem Güter moralisch aufgeladen werden und ab einer kritischen Masse von Konsumenten sich in Form von moralischem Konsum als Marktmacht etabliert. Offen sind hier Fragen nach den dabei zugrundeliegenden Moralvorstellungen und ethischen Prinzipien. In Kapitel 5 werden die Charakterdispositionen bzw. Tugenden im Hinblick auf eine Ethik des Konsums analysiert, welche zentral für die Identitätsausbildung und ethisch begründete Lebensführung sind. Tugenden vermitteln zwischen subjektiven Fähigkeiten, Bedürfnissen, Zielen und Wünschen und den objektiven gesellschaftlichen Bedingungen. Sie disponieren strebensethisch für richtige, gute und sinnvolle Entscheidungen und Handlungen und verwirklichen auf diese Weise menschliche Identität in Freiheit. Das Sollen wird mit dem Wollen im menschlichen Handeln verschränkt, damit das Gute, Richtige und Gesollte auch gewollt wird. Im Anschluss werden die Kardinaltugenden in ihrer Relevanz für den Bereich Konsum im Einzelnen thematisiert. Die aufgeworfenen Fragen und Zusammenhänge führen im abschließenden Kapitel 6 zur Frage der spirituellen und religiösen Potentiale für Gerechtigkeit, Maß und Suffizienz, womit eine theologische Anbindung erfolgt. Die geistigen, spirituellen und religiösen Potenziale in Menschen und Gesellschaften können eine wesentliche Rolle auf dem Weg zu erfüllenden und suffizienten Lebensstilen und Gesellschaften spielen. Auf praktischer Ebene erfolgt dazu exemplarisch der Vorschlag einer Wiederbelebung der freiwilligen religiösen Fastenpraxis, welche für den Umgang mit Grenzen im Bedürfnisfeld Ernährung von Bedeutung ist. Die Wiederaufnahme einer freiwilligen, religiösen Fastenpraxis (individuell, institutionell) kann ein wichtiger Schritt sein, Maß und Suffizienz im Bedürfnisfeld Ernährung zu finden oder zu leben, was auch positiv auf andere Bedürfnisfelder ausstrahlen kann. Aus christlicher Sicht kann eine freiwillige Wiederaufnahme der Fastenpraxis aus religiösen Motiven ein Beitrag dafür sein, sich aus dem Ethos des Glaubens heraus für Bedingungen eines erlösten Daseins zu öffnen, was auch zu verträglicheren Lebensstilen und Gesellschaften führt.

Schlagwörter in Deutsch

Konsum / Ethik / Nachhaltigkeit / Effizienz / Konsistenz / Suffizienz / Reboundeffekt / Religion / Spiritualität / Ernährung / Fasten / Überernährung / Hunger / Strukturen / Süchte / Identität / intergenerationelle Gerechtigkeit / Tauschgerechtigkeit / Klimawandel / Tugenden / Tugendethik.

Abstract in English

The consumption of goods and services in today's societies is of prominent concern. This fact calls for a thorough ethical and theological reflection. This dissertation focuses on just and fair consumption through the lens of ethics and spiritual and religious values. The first chapter (situation analysis) investigates the causes and developments in modern history leading towards contemporary consumer societies. The positive aspects of the economic growth paradigm and its material wealth with more and more services and options available for many people have to be acknowledged. However, the many positive aspects are overshadowed by flaws and threats at the individual level (addictions, forms of overconsumption, health issues), at the ecological level (loss of biodiversity, depletion of natural resources, climate change), at the social level (growing inequality within and among nations, threats to food security and the human right to food, migration pressure, intergenerational justice) and at the systemic level (political, economic and financial instability, threat to peace). The current form of a resource-intensive and a wasteful economy and lifestyle is ethically questioned. One result of sustainability studies (Nachhaltigkeitsforschung) is that the increase of efficiency (Effizienz) alone is not sufficient to bring societies towards a more sustainable path. Rather, in addition there is a need for sound structural reforms based on the principle of consistency (Konsistenz), which includes the phasing out of end-pipe-solutions, the implementation of the principle of accountability and true costs (Kostenwahrheit) and the internalizing of external costs (Internalisierung externalisierter Kosten). For this to happen, it is necessary to implement policy coherence (Politikkohärenz) at all levels of our societies. However, efficiency and consistency together are not enough to reach sustainability because of the rebound (boomerang) effect of consumption. The savings of energy and emissions through efficiency are outweighed by the global expansion of consumption patterns and ever new forms of goods, services, and options. This is also why efforts to promote more sustainable consumption patterns have not brought the desired results beyond mere appeals. Therefore, the question of sufficiency (Suffizienz) has to be brought up and assessed on the individual, the social and the ecological level, which is the question of both moderate and frugal lifestyles and societies. The implementation of the strategy of sufficiency requires fundamental changes in values and attitudes. In a sense, sufficiency challenges the very validity of the traditional growth paradigm (Wachstumsparadigma) and supports those efforts, which try to find more adequate ways to measure sound growth and the GDP. However such a new paradigm of sufficiency is largely unknown today to mainstream economists and to a wider public. This chapter focuses on the question of what role ethics (individual, institutional) can play concerning the development of more just (fair) and more sufficient (content) lifestyles and societies. Within this area of research the main focus will be given to reflect on the possible contribution of spiritual and religious potentials and resources to this aim. In the social science part (Chapter 2) I focus on the criticism by the Austrian sociologist Manfred Prisching on the colonialisation and taylorisation of the human person (soul) by neoconsumerism. According to his sociological view the loss of traditions and of meaning paved the way to develop a society in which experiences (fun) and money are considered to be (the) main values and make up the identity of the human person understood as consumer. The ever increasing number of options in the modern world of consumption leads to a so called failure society (Versäumnisgesellschaft) and disappointment society (Enttäuschungsgesellschaft). The more options you have, the more emptiness you can feel when spiritual values are weakened or lacking to cope with this situation, so the argument of Prisching. At least some people are not able to handle these failures and frustrations well. The US economist and sociologist Juliet Schor reflects critically on the self-reinforcing cycle of working and spending. She calls for a voluntary reduction of both work and spending in order to achieve a better quality of life (downshifting). For this purpose Schor articulates ethical principles of a new consumer behavior, such as to keep control of wants, to promote the attitude of sharing, to appreciate creative activities and a decommercialisation of rituals like Christmas or birthdays. In the context of more wealth and passive consumption, the economist Lucia Reisch argues to focus more on time-well-being (Zeitwohlstand) to enable fulfilling human activities in the form of intrinsically motivated consumption activities rather than passive forms of consumption, e.g. leaning to play a music instrument yourself than mere listening to music. Since active and passive forms of consumption compete for the precious and non-renewable commodity “time,” Reisch argues that a preponderance (excess) of goods and services will diminish the time available for a consumption activity and lessen the immaterial and intrinsic fulfilling activities. Therefore, temperance as the virtue to find and choose the right measure is a key challenge to find ways to more fulfilling consumption attitudes and a happier lifestyle. In general, questions about sufficiency, moderation and frugality have to be considered as key issues of sustainable societies and lifestyles. Chapter 3 focuses on the complex issue of human needs. The modern development of unfolding needs satisfaction in combination with the unleashing of productive forces during the industrial revolution led to the challenge we face today, to make the ever increasing needs compatible with individual, social, ecological and systemic (economic, political) challenges. The primary objective of the normative requirement of justice in this situation is that the necessary basic needs (for food, water, and housing) should not suffer because of an unwarranted expansion of needs in form of additional desires and cultural wants. When expanding mobility needs in affluent societies are fulfilled at the expense of the ability to meet basic needs in still developing societies (fuel vs food) it will lead to a very unjust situation and it will become difficult to avoid a global ‘clash of needs’. Therefore, sound reflections on needs are required on all levels of societies. At the individual level the issue is to strengthen the ability of people to become aware of all the (real) needs they are concerned about (this means also to be able to recognize and include needs on the spiritual level concerning a meaning in life ) and to balance their needs satisfaction in a just, fulfilling, non-self-deceptive, and not harmful manner. This includes the necessity to develop and practice skills to deal with limits and boundaries of life constructively. On the global level the social issue of the relevance of justice of needs (Bedürfnisgerechtigkeit) has to be addressed politically regarding the social and environmental impacts of modern consumption patterns. Chapter 4 investigates different concepts of ethical consumption. The approach of the US political philosopher David Crocker provides valuable insights into individual normative ethical issues concerning consumption. Consumption activities should not interfere with essential functions and capabilities of a person, but should contribute to a balanced unfolding of human functions and capabilities. In order to make good consumer decisions, an adequate conception of human well-being is required. Only in this way will the consumed goods and services be instrumentally beneficial to improve the overall welfare of the person rather than to impair its development or hinder real needs satisfaction. The Spanish philosopher Adela Cortina favours ethics based on universal principles as her focus lies on the social impact of consumption. Following Kant, Cortina formulates universal ethical standards for consumption. For her the consumer is first understood as a responsible citizen and second as a consumer. Through this understanding she integrates people’s understandings of themselves, on the one hand, as consumers and, on the other hand, as citizens with political responsibilities. Research shows that people have different objectives in their mind as consumers and citizens. Having freedom and autonomy entails also the freedom to care for moral attitudes, principles and behavior. For Cortina, the human person, when consuming, must keep control of himself/herself. For the German economist Michael Neuner the essential human consumption norm is marked by the criterion of human adequacy (Kriterium der humanen Angemessenheit), for which processes of self-exploration and reflection are necessary, in order to enlighten our preferences and needs through self-reflection and a kind of "normative cleansing" of wishes and wants. Only in this way desires and wishes can be justified as human needs that qualify for the criterion of human adequacy. Within this reflection, a higher valued need shows its superiority in that way that it is not consumed like a material asset but lasts or sustains in its effects. With the criterion of human adequacy, human needs and desires can be evaluated and ordered according to their value. Neuner also puts a strong focus on the structural conditions necessary for the actualisation of responsible consumer behavior in our daily life. Individual consumptions patterns are embedded in various societal and institutional settings and when looking for sustainable consumption patterns, the various interactions between individuals and institutions have to be accounted for. Responsible consumer behavior depends on both the character virtues of the person, as well as on the consumer-related infrastructure and societal and political institutions. The German philosopher and economist Birger Priddat points to the increasing relevance of the concept of moral consumption (moralischer Konsum). Within this concept, consumer goods and services are understood to be “morally charged” (moralisch aufgeladen) by companies or by consumers themselves and other actors (NGOs etc.), for example, products committed to standards of the Clean Clothes Campaign are morally charged by avoiding child labour. If a critical mass of consumers complies with ethical standards and products, the power of moral consumption will become a significant factor in the market place which can further lead to changes in the whole economic and even in the political system. Scientists also speak of political consumption, which in the future probably is going to play a highly significant role as transnational cooperations have to listen to consumers (cf. Shell and the Brent Spar incident 1995). The question from the point of view of ethical theory is what concept of morality and what ethical principles determine this concept of “consuming morally”. In Chapter 5 the character dispositions or virtues in relation to ethics of consumption are analyzed. Virtues are crucial for the formation of personal identity and the responsible implementation of human freedom. Thus virtues have a significant impact on life in general, on specific lifestyles and the good life. Virtues mediate between subjective capabilities, desires, needs, and personal goals and the objective social conditions. They help a person to make right and just decisions and to do fine actions and are crucial in the realization of human identity and freedom. What ought to be done is connected with the striving dimension of the soul (gr. orektikon) and with the human will in order that the good and right action is accomplished. The virtue of prudence will open for the perception of the complex reality of life, as only in this way fair, reasonable and sensible consumer decisions can be accomplished. The virtue of temperance or moderation integrates the different needs, desires, intentions and goals, and helps us to deal with boundaries and limits. In our times (more than in the past), humans being need to develop the competence of being able to set limits and boundaries, in order to find the right measure in everything, and even to stop and say “No” at the right moment. For this the disposition of (civic) courage is required so that the perceived real good, the right thing can be realized even against difficulties, temptations and odds. In the field of consumption the option of not consuming is of importance (consumption delay, savings, waiver, fasting), but also courageous engagements in the civil society like in NGO’s to work for a more just society with equitable and ecologically sound global structural conditions. The actual meaning of the virtue of justice in the global context is illustrated on the theoretical level by the relevance of the principle of justice in exchange and on the practical level by the issue of fair trade. According to Aristotle, efforts to improve conditions complying with the principle of justice in exchange are fundamental for social, economical and financial stability. The struggle for social justice is also linked to challenges for structural reforms (climate justice, justice in using resources, intra-and inter-generational justice, the human right to food, etc.). In the field of nutrition and food, the deep interdependences of people and peoples on the global level and with nature are demonstrated. Here the rising demand for meat consumption poses diverse and crucial challenges to the global society. Because these enormous ecological, social, individual and systemic challenges are intertwined, the struggle for more justice, moderation, and sufficiency in the field of nutrition and food is of great importance. The issues raised and their associations require us to look out for resources for justice, moderation, and sufficiency in the final chapter 6, in order that just consumption can be put into practice and sustainable and sufficient paths for individuals and for society in general can be found. In order to be able to live up to the virtue of temperance, sufficiency and abstinence (Verzicht), also spiritual and religious values are important resources. They deserve to be considered in developing more fulfilling lifestyles and sustainable societies. Thus an explicit theological perspective opens in this chapter of my research. My thesis is that the mental, spiritual and religious potential in people and in societies play a significant role to attain sufficiency lifestyles and societies. The voluntary reactivation of the religious practice of fasting can be one practical example of a helpful step for many to find moderation, the right measure and sufficiency on the individual and social level. This practice at the level of nutrition can also have an impact on other areas of needs and consumption, like mobility (Autofasten in Austria). In the context of religious fasting the spiritual and transcendent values play an essential role. Also institutional religious frameworks and commitments can benefit these practices to become alive (see the Action meat-free day, Ramadan in the Islamic tradition). From a Christian perspective my final practical suggestion in line with the findings of this work is to renew voluntarily the religious practice of fasting (no meat on Fridays, observing abstinence during Lent). A voluntary reactivation of the practice of fasting for religious reasons on the individual and also institutional level can be a contribution to open up to the ethos of lively faith and for conditions of a redeemed life, while our lifestyles and societies will become more compatible and just in individual, social, ecological and systemic terms.

Schlagwörter in Englisch

consumption / ethics / sustainability / sustainable consumption / efficiency / consistency / sufficiency / rebound / religion / spirituality / food / fasting / hunger / structures / addiction / identity / intergenerational justice / justice in exchange / climate change / virtue ethics.

Item Type: Hochschulschrift (Dissertation)
Author: Gassner, Franz
Title: Gerecht Konsumieren
Subtitle: sozialethische und theologische Perspektiven einer Ethik des Konsums
Umfangsangabe: 361 S.
Institution: University of Vienna
Faculty: Katholisch-Theologische Fakultät
Publication year: 2012
Language: ger ... Deutsch
Supervisor: Gabriel, Ingeborg
Assessor: Gabriel, Ingeborg
2. Assessor: Müller, Sigrid
Classification: 10 Geisteswissenschaften allgemein > 10.00 Geisteswissenschaften allgemein: Allgemeines
11 Theologie, Religionswissenschaft > 11.05 Religionssoziologie
70 Sozialwissenschaften allgemein > 70.02 Philosophie und Theorie der Sozialwissenschaften
43 Umweltforschung, Umweltschutz > 43.33 Umweltfreundliche Nutzung natürlicher Ressourcen
77 Psychologie > 77.91 Ökologische Psychologie
AC Number: AC09423593
Item ID: 25513
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