Social Development Towards Values


Social Development Towards Values

Report on the International Conference “Social Development Towards Values. Ethics – Technology – Society”

Wisła, Poland, September 25–27, 2015

by Paulina Kuzior, Silesian University of Technology, Gliwice-Zabrze, Poland

On September 25–27, 2015 in Wisła (Poland) held an international scientific conference “Social development towards values. Ethics – Technology – Society”. The aim of this meeting was to broaden the knowledge and interests on ethics, technology and society and initiate a permanent exchange of experiences on social development. The conference was organized by the Department of Applied Social Sciences, Faculty of Organization and Management, Silesian University of Technology, and co-organized with Technische Universität Dresden, Internationales Hochschulinstitut Zittau, Lehrstuhl für Sozialwissenschaften and the Katedra etiky a aplikovanej etiky Filozofickej Fakulty Univerzity Mateja Bela v Banskej Bystrici. The conference was attended by 100 researchers and doctoral students from Poland, Germany, Slovakia, Ukraine and the United States. The plenary lecture on Sustainability and Growth and Environmental Study in Epistemology was given by Prof. Peter Bołtuć of the Department of Philosophy, University of Illinois at Springfield, U.S.A. In his speech, Bołtuć referred mainly to the actions of the Club of Rome. He also mentioned Elon Musk and his vision based on modern epistemology environment, which shows that the development of civilization and technology gives the best chance to solve environmental problems. During parallel sessions at the conference 75 papers were presented, which focused on seven thematic blocks: 1. Sustainable development, globalization, glocalization – theoretical and practical implications. 2. The role of innovation in socio-economic development. 3. Technology Assessment. 4. Intelligent development in the axiological perspective. 5. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in theory and practice. 6. The role of humanities in the development of modern societies. 7. Law and ethics – mutual correlations, the role and importance in the development of modern societies.

The conference was interdisciplinary in terms of topics and approaches. Issues of the development of modern societies, the evolution of the world of values, the impact of modern technology was taken on from the perspectives of humanities, social sciences and engineering. A humanistic context was in many papers. The scientists have been debating on the role of humanities (primarily philosophy and ethics) in the development of modern society, recognizing that proper social development is not possible without ethical signposts that should set the standard in every area of human activity. These issues have been taken inter alia in papers of: Aleksandra Kuzior (Silesian University of Technology in Gliwice, Poland) – Faces of modern business – towards CSR, presenting examples of socially responsible companies and the actions that they undertake; Tomasz Czakon (University of Silesia, Katowice, Poland) – “Corporate Codes of Ethics as a Tool for the Construction of a Total Institution”, for which the author analyzed 49 ethical codes from various companies to check whether they are a manifestation of ethical action; Pavel Fobel (Matej Bel University in Banská Bystrica, Slovakia) – “Professional Counselling in Ethics and Social Development”. The authors, by referring to the philosophical tradition, drew attention to the timeliness of the ethics of Socrates, Plato or Aristotle. In many scenes Aristotelian virtue ethics has been shown to be an ethical guidepost in developing technicized the modern world.

1     Ethics and Sustainable Development

An important aspect of the considerations was dynamic technological development and new problems it generates. Andrzej Kiepas (University of Silesia, Katowice, Poland) in his paper “Responsibility of technoscience – new problems and challenges” drew attention to the concept of responsible research and innovation (RRI), emphasizing that the realization of this concept requires public participation in the processes of development and dissemination of innovation and the need for co-opting of various entities on the implementation of innovative technologies. In the paper of Waldemar Czajkowski (Silesian University of Technology in Gliwice, Poland) – “Comments on Ontology and Axiology Innovation” innovations are identified as a component of the dominant ideology of our times. The speaker pointed out that in case of any ideology there is a critical / philosophical reflection on it needed, which is a necessary analytical tool to describe (ontology) and an evaluation tool (axiology). In the paper of Anna Kochmańska (Silesian University of Technology, Gliwice, Poland) and Janusz Karwot (Water and Sewage Limited Liability Company in Rybnik) – “An innovative activity in the area of CSR as the key to effective implementation into an organization the ethical aspects of the sustainable development” the results of empirical research on the opinions executives of companies from the service sector were presented regarding the impact of innovation activities combined with the effective implementation in the organization of ethical principles of sustainable development. The issue of sustainability was also raised in the papers of Gerhard Banse, Stefan Konstańczak, Barbara Rożałowska, Zbigniew Orbik, Tomasz Kosiek, Daniela Fobelova.

Gerhard Banse (Berliner Zentrum Technik & Kultur, Germany) in his paper “Sustainable development – Technology – Culture. Remarks to their relationship” drew attention to a variety of relationships between culture, technology and sustainable development. He emphasized that in the current scientific reflection on sustainable development there was no attention paid to the relationship triad mentioned in the paper. However it is necessary to remember, that both culture and technology affect each other and warrant development. But for development to be sustainable it requires the involvement and intervention of forward-thinking individuals; sustainable development will not come for itself. Stefan Konstańczak (University of Zielona Góra, Zielona Góra, Poland) in his paper “The unfulfilled hopes of sustainable development” sought to assess the results of the international community in the implementation of sustainable development. He also presents visions of alternative development of our civilization if the strategy of sustainable development is not realized in practice. That is why sustainable development shall assume priority of social objectives over ecological ones. Tomasz Kosiek (Silesian University of Technology, Gliwice, Poland) in his paper “Sustainable Development – Solution or Ideology?” drew attention to the criticism, which indicated that the idea of sustainable development is transforming into a kind of ideology of development. Inclusion of various strategies (i.e. the Lisbon Strategy or Goeteborg Strategy) has become an expression of political correctness, which is not followed by concrete actions. According to Kosiek we need a qualitative leap, without which sustainable development will be just another ideology or a bureaucratic tool for disciplining society. From another perspective, the issues of sustainable development were shown in the paper of Barbara Rożałowska (Silesian University of Technology, Gliwice, Poland) “Sustainable Development in Social Space of Polish Metropolis”. Rożałowska highlighted important factors (i.a. education, safety or social cohesion), based on bottom-up initiatives undertaken by urban activists. She has made attempts to approach the social aspect of sustainable development from the perspective of sociology, in the context of the social space of the city. The prospect of sustainable development in relation to globalization and glocalisation was also shown in paper of Daniela Fobelova (Matej Bel University, Banská Bystrica, Slovakia) “Globally and Locally in the Context of Sustainable Development”. A reflection on sustainable development also including a philosophical perspective (axiological and ethical) was made in the paper of Zbigniew Orbik (Silesian University of Technology, Gliwice, Poland) “On the Philosophical Foundations of the Concept of Sustainable Development”.

2     Bringing together Markets and Values

Most speakers strongly emphasized the necessity of humanistic education, exposing its significant role in shaping responsible humans and a society that might operate in a safe space and in a socio-economic nature. Eckhard Burkatzki (TU Dresden – IHI Zittau, Germany) in his paper “Does market inclusion interfere with communitarian values? – Patterns of normative orientation of actors with different market positions” presented the results of empirical studies, which aimed at checking the correlation between different states of market integration and preaching community values. Empirical studies indicate an antagonistic tension between the market imperative to maximize profits on the one hand and an orientation towards the common good on the other. It is worth taking another thread of the consideration into account – how to educate in order to support the humanities. We can also refer to another hierarchy of empirical research on human values that shape the world of politics. Alla Lobanova (Kryvyi Rih National University, Ukraine) presented a paper entitled “A Hierarchy of Values of Political Elite in Modern Ukraine (1991–2015)”, which may constitute a contribution to the further comparative research in relation to other countries in Europe and the world.

In addition to skilled researchers the conference was attended by a large group of doctoral students from Poland and Slovakia. This was an opportunity to exchange experiences and initiate scientific cooperation between the two countries and present current research in front of numerous groups of professors who gave methodological and substantive guidance for further work on dissertations. Doctoral students in their papers pointed out, among others, such issues as: Creation of a new social class – the concept of precarity by Guy Standing (Piotr Czakon – University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland); The relationship between ethics and business in domestic (Slovak) and international strategies for social and economic practice (Monika Fobelová – Matej Bel University in Banská Bystrica, Slovakia); Socially responsible innovation (Remigiusz Kozubek – Silesian University of Technology in Gliwice, Poland); The role of ethics in the legal profession (Paulina Kuzior – Silesian University of Technology in Gliwice, Poland); The development of nanotechnology and ethical issues (Bibiána Marková – Matej Bel University in Banská Bystrica, Slovakia); Moral principles as an essential social services (Viera Rentková – Matej Bel University in Banská Bystrica, Slovakia); The philosophical basis of technology valuation (Patrycja Stylec – Silesian University of Technology in Gliwice, Poland).

The conference “Social development towards values. Ethics – Technology – Society” has become a forum for exchanging experiences of the international scientific community.

Scientific papers of the conference can be found on the website of the Scientific Notebooks of Silesian University of Technology (No. 84 and No. 85 – and in the “Book of abstracts” edited by Paulina Kuzior. The next conference will take place in September 2016.