Ethical Complexity

  • Harry Kunneman
Part of the Issues in Business Ethics book series (IBET, volume 26)


A distinction is often made between ontological and epistemological complexity. Useful as this distinction may be, it should be supplemented by the notion of ethical complexity. Although some initial explorations into the ethics of complexity have been made, by, for example, Cilliers, these remain primarily on a descriptive level. It is argued here that this is too lean, and should be fleshed out with narrative models which make the ethical dimension explicit. A theory of this kind of narrativity is developed from the perspective of critical hermeneutics. Arguments from Ricoeur, particularly the distinction between idem and ipse, are used to expand the notions of autopoiesis and re-entry. The notion of diapoiesis is introduced in order to highlight the relationships which constitute us as humans. This process involves a “horizontal transcendence” of which ethics forms an irreducible part. Some implications of this narrative approach for organisational ethics are spelled out.


Good Life Personal Identity Practical Wisdom Narrative Form Ethical Complexity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I would like to thank the Stellenbosch Centre for Advanced Studies, of Stellenbosch University, South Africa, for their support of my work on this chapter in the spring of 2009. Special thanks to the other STIAS fellows, to the directors of the Centre for Studies in Complexity, Paul Cilliers and Jan-Hendrik Hofmeyr, and to the members of their weekly colloquium, for many stimulating conversations.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University for HumanisticsUtrechtNetherlands

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