Modeling Organizational Ethics as Nonlinear Dynamic Systems (a modest proposal)

E John Vodonick


This paper explores the methods by which human values are expressed in the decision making process that is called ethics. In this paper I argue that modeling human ethical structures, particularly in these times of rapid social and environmental change is helpful if not necessary to understand why some decision making processes do not result in an outcome that coincides with fundamental values.

            This paper begins with an exploration of the methodology of modeling and the use of models as sense making tools. The structure and theory of modeling is presented from the viewpoints of Woofram, Bateson and Miller and Page. The selection of the model of nonlinear complex adaptive systems as a model for organizational ethics systems is justified by drawing on the use of that model in other human systems.

            Next, the ethical landscape is presented to illustrate the breadth of human value structure and ethical systems. The serious nature of the disconnect between fundamental human values and the ethical systems that drive the decision making processes in human organizations is discussed and a model of nonlinear complex adaptive systems built from the  structure of those ethical processes with regard to the elements of phase space,  attractors, emergent properties and self-organization. Finally some possible applications for this model in the organizational environment are discussed.


Attractor; Dynamical system; Ethics; Integrity; Morality; Philosophy of life; Value; Virtue

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