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[T8.1003] eSubsidiarity: An Ethical Approach for Living in Complexity

1 Universidad Estatal Península de Santa Elena, Ecuador
2 Universidad de León, Spain
3 Munich University of Applied Sciences, Germany
1 July 2015
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Is needless to insist on the significant increase of the complexity we are living in. Whereas the social order arisen with modernity encompassed –at the level of the nation-states– a reduction of social complexity through cultural normalization, the new social and political order is nowadays to be intercultural, multilingual and even multi-national. National life is more and more entangled with international relations, and cannot be conceived anymore with our backs turned to nature. All this makes that the traditional context of posing ethical questions is rather different. The universality paradigm that pervaded many classical approaches in ethics is not so convincing anymore. Anthropology, ethnography, intercultural ethics has shown the fragility of such pretentious positions.

As in any other cultural change, it is quite clear that at the age of information we need a new way of addressing the issues of the proper behavior, the deep question of the good live in the complexity that is proper to our society. We may encounter a way of diminishing the complexity at the level of the human agency, as it was the case of cultural normalization in modernity, but we have to do it in another way. The subsidiarity principle represents a way to decrease complexity at the level of the agents while preserving the complexity at the global level. Something that is equally performed in the living organism or in the organization of decentralized political systems [1-2]. E-subsidiarity was essayed in Allende’s Chile and thereafter in the organization of multinational corporations and successful cooperative organizations, e.g. in the Basque country [3-6]. Could it become a new ethical paradigm at the information age?

The argumentation follows the problems and approach argued in [1]-[3] and [6]. The e-Subsidiarity model is based on the Stafford Beer’s Viable System Model, depicted in figure 1 and briefly discussed in [4]. The context of Basque cooperatives is summarily described and analysed in [5]. These works provide further sources to dig deeper in the subject.

Figure 1. Viable System Model (Source: Nick Green at the English language Wikipedia).

(see PDF version for the Figure).



This work has been partially done under support of Senescyt’s Postdoc programme Prometeo, linked to a research appointment in Santa Elena University (UPSE), Ecuador. University of León, Spain, has also supported the work.

References and Notes

  1. Díaz Nafría, J.M.; Alfonso, J; Panizo, L. Building up eParticipatory decision-making from the local to the global scale. Study case at the European Higher Education Area. Computers in Human Behavior 2015, 47, 26-41.
  2. Díaz Nafría, J.M. Ethics at the age of information. Systema 2015, (accepted, in press)
  3. Díaz Nafría, J.M. The Need for an Informational Systems Approach to Security. TripleC 2011, 9(1), 93-122
  4. Flood, R. L.; Carson, E. R. Dealing with Complexity. NY, USA: Plenum Press, 1993; pp. 77-96.
  5. Narvarte Arregui, P.A. The Cooperative Experience of Mondragon: a Study of the Organisational Viability in the Context of the Basque Country. CIRIEC-España, Revista de Economía Pública, Social y Cooperativa 2006, 54, 231-255.
  6. Ortiz Osorio, H.M.; Díaz Nafría, J.M. Cybersyn project as a paradigm for managing and learning in complexity. Systema 2015, (accepted, in press)


Subsidiarity, e-Subsidiarity, information age, complexity, ethics, intercultural ethics

Cite this article as

Díaz Nafría, J. eSubsidiarity: An Ethical Approach for Living in Complexity. In Proceedings of the ISIS Summit Vienna 2015, 3–7 June 2015; Vienna, Austria, T8.1003; doi:10.3390/isis-summit-vienna-2015-T8.1003

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Author biographies

José Díaz Nafría
(Doctor in Telecommunication Engineering by the Technical University of Madrid and graduated in Philosophy by the National University for Distance Education, UNED) he is currently Scholar at the State University of Santa Elena, Ecuador, University of León, Spain, at the Hochschule München, Germany. Between 1997 and 2009, he was associate professor at the University Alfonso X el Sabio. He worked as researcher at the Technical University of Vienna (in 1996), and at the Technical University of Madrid (1997-2002). He has been invited Professor by several universities in Germany and Austria. He is Vice-president for Communications of the International Society of Information Studies (ISIS), part of the board of directors of the Science of Information Institute (SoII), member of the Unified Theory of Information Research Group (UTI), of the International Center for Information Ethics (ICIE), of the editorial teams of the Journal TripleC, IRIE and Systema. His research focuses on the observation problem, models of technological development, theory of systems and complexity.

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