Political social responsibility, as a supplement to corporate social responsibility and scientific social responsibility, is exactly what is needed in light of Brexit and the recent US-election.


The corporate world has for years been aware of what is nowadays referred to as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). A CSR-strategy for a company essentially means that the business model incorporates guidelines for how everything from production to HR is handled in a socially responsible way. It means showing concern for where the raw material used in production comes from, that child labor is out and that an underpaid workforce is likewise out of the question. Concern is also directed at how production may be reconfigured securing less resource consumption, more sustainability and more concern for climate as well as environment, etc.  Indeed an honorable ambition from the corporate world although the goal has not yet been reached. A report released by the UN’s Global Compact, Impact – Transforming Business, Changing the World, the world’s largest initiative on CSR, concludes that even though progress has been made in recent years, the corporate world is not at the finish line when it comes to social and environmental responsibility. Nevertheless, many companies do indeed have the ambition that CSR is more than just a footnote on page 55 in the annual report.

A new area in social responsibility has recently arisen. It’s called Scientific Social Responsibility (SSR). The concept refers to the idea that scientific inquiry and research should address, and receive financial support, observing the grand challenges that the world faces. Science should be part of solving the pressing problems of the globe. In January 2016, World Economic Forum, announced the 10 grand challenges of the world including food security, inclusive growth, employment, climate change, global finance, the internet, gender equality, global trade, long term investment and healthcare. Thus whether a physicist, chemist, biologist, mathematician, economist, doctor, computer scientist, historian, philosopher or linguist applies for research grants, the legitimacy of the project should not only be assessed with respect to its intellectual merits and scientific quality, but also judged on whether the insights and results may take part in solving the climate problem, growing inequality, food security, misinformation on the web, the infostorms, opinion bubbles and polarization online threatening global governance, world reason and rationality. If these challenges are not met, the world will indeed become a more unstable place to be politically, socially, economically and culturally. Both the generations of the day and the generations to come deserve better. After all, every generation should have as the overarching ambition that the world they turn over to the next generation is better than the one they took over from their parents. That’s called progress. Even counting setbacks, wars, revolutions, odd presidential elections and exits, progress has characterized humanity for as long as we have been humans some 250,000 years.

Keeping in mind the recent US-election, Brexit, and the beast best called “post-factual democracy,” it is perhaps time for a new type of social responsibility–denote it Political Social Responsibility (PSR). It doesn’t just mean that politicians should take their voters seriously but also should be held accountable for the promises they make to their electorates. It means speaking the truth as far as we know it, factoring in what the corporate world as well as the world of science have to say about global finance and trade, climate, internet, gender, agriculture, etc. when they properly commit to CSR and SSR respectively. As a politician it’s not acceptable under PSR to suggest leaving the EU without warning of the consequences and then abandon ship when Brexit turns real. As a politically socially responsible politician it’s not acceptable to lie or at least treat the truth carelessly when it comes to your email-server, relation to the establishment and appearances with corporate life and world banking not living up to CSR commitments. As a PSR-politician racist, sexist, and unrealistic excesses are out of the question and voter maximization on anger and indignation without ideological backing and real political initiatives and solutions should be ruled if they are only are manifested in 140 characters on Twitter. Without political social responsibility deliberative democracy will have a tough time surviving–the end of rationality is the beginning of populism which doesn’t require CSR, CCR or any other type of responsibility. We will end up in a new world no one wants, but we may just have gotten it.

November 14, 2016

Featured image courtesy of nosha on Flickr. 

About The Author

Vincent F Hendricks is Professor of Formal Philosophy at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, Elite Researcher of the Danish State and Director of the Center for Information and Bubble Studies funded by the Carlsberg Foundation. He is the author of many books, among them Infostorms (Springer Nature 2016), Mainstream and Formal Epistemology (Cambridge University Press, 2007) The Convergence of Scientific Knowledge (Springer, 2001). He is also the author and editor of numerous papers and books on bubbles studies, formal epistemology, methodology and logic. Hendricks was Editor-in-Chief of Synthese and Synthese Library 2005-2015.