measuring virtue

The capacity of government, parliament, central banks or private banks for measuring virtue has been a central topic of public debate, under changing names, for several hundred years.

[+] (Allegedly) virtuous regimes

Attempts to measure

In addition to" class="wiki wiki_page">monetary policy where it is most obvious, virtue debates affect also fiscal policy and the award of punitive damages in civil law and torts. Tort reform and monetary reform may constant reference to measures and means of measuring virtue.

Key debates and definitions on this issue tend to focus on intangibles:
  1. measuring progress
    1. Genuine Progress Indicator
      1. Genuine Progress Indicator Atlantic
  2. triple bottom line
    1. ICLEI Triple Bottom Line
  3. measuring happiness
  4. measuring well-being
    1. value of life ratio
      1. value of Earth
    2. Canadian Index of Well-Being
  5. natural capital adequacy
    1. ecological footprint
      1. ICLEI ecoBudget
    2. measuring biodiversity

Most of these debates require assessing some intangible capital asset value. They reflect attempts to address failures with virtue measures based on financial capital alone, such as Consumer Price Index increases, debt to GDP ratio, GDP itself, and Net Domestic Product.

All of these debates accept the most basic premise that an ethical decision can be quantified as a cardinal number.


position: Measuring public virtue should be conducted wholly in public.

[+] argument for: if governments need money, they can tax it

[+] argument for: politics is by definition ethics in public

[+] argument for: political party competition is virtue competition

[+] argument against: virtue and value assessing expertise is not evenly distributed

[+] argument against: public choices of leaders are not necessarily competent ethical choices of values

[+] argument for: Public virtue can now be assessed by non-legislative means

[+] argument for: Public virtue can now be assessed by non-legislative means

position: Public virtue requires at least some private deliberation based on a wide range of expertise the public lacks

[+] argument for: expertise of ethicists, economists, sociologists, ecologists is routinedly used in decisions

[+] argument for: voters have little time or interest in details of public debate

[+] argument for: mass media can play the role of informing the public of gross lacks or betrayals of its values

[+] argument against: elitism

[+] position: Public virtue can't be measured, as measurement itself cannot process or reflect virtue accurately

[+] position: Public virtue can be measured only by ecologists

[+] position: Everything is business