Mediation: crisis, postmodern culture and decision making

How to cite this journal: Author, Date of the post, WMO Conflict Insight, Title of the post, ISSN:

Ethical Analysis in a Postmodern Setting: The dilemma and situation; nature/reality and the people

This paper reports on mediation as a ‘preemptive discipline’ by showing forth relevant theories and research, also that from other disciplines namely psychology and business studies in relation to current happenings as derived from international media. In this, the paper is contemporary descriptive using a conflict that is very present in modern discussion: The sustainability of nature is contrasted with business and political decision-making that threatens life on the planet. The paper is factual while in the combination of its elements its writing is creative

exploration; giving the reader an opportunity to reflect on current issues and pertaining psychological factors. The intention is to strengthen the reader and open up a vista that showcases the increased relevance of mediation as a ‘problem-solving process’ that can be applied by parties preemptively. It is highlighted how ethics are connected to survival and the ability to reflect on the consequences of decisions, and also how that refection can be difficult in light of modern culture as defined by ‘postmodernism’ and especially regarding serious issues because of normal human protection mechanisms as a denial that can lead to or be furthered by anxieties that can readily present themselves. The paper concludes that ‘otherwise normal’ psychological defense mechanisms get in the way of solving matters when they pertain to issues classifiable as ‘radical evil’ and that mediation as a preemptive problem-solving process can help reinstall hope, will surface information, and help lead to solutions in the face of such issues. Further research on mediation as a preemptive process is encouraged as well as an application by decision-makers.


In looking at the contrast of business and political decisions that can be dangerous for people and the planet (conflict) we do not dive into specific situations or decisions – we rather bring up a context for increased understanding. We then relate this context to ethics in current times, psychological factors, and the applicability of mediation as one of the preemptive tools we have to avoid unsound decisions and destruction.

This article is written from the standpoint of mediation practice, bringing increased awareness regarding avenues of thought and practice and thus in itself is an act that can strengthen the reader – and hence is preemptive mediation in action.

Mankind and nature

Nature is! People apply various models of thought regarding interaction with nature and ownership[1]. Mankind exploits the planet in a previously unknown way ignoring that it is embedded in nature[2].

The flowing circular logic of nature has not been honored. The production and manufacture of mankind destroys natural life cycles and creates things that cannot be broken down in nature and poison humanity. This has been especially pointed out by Dr. Leyla Acaroglu[3] and others promoting the concept of “The Circular Economy”[4].

Companies in addition to having at times been instruments of such destruction regularly behave in ways that necessitate responses involving those of “Stolen Assets Recovery” as nations have “customarily” been defrauded of their assets, natural resources, or utility rights through bribery, theft, and other corruption – “theft of public assets is a development problem of the greatest magnitude”[5]. That problem also includes manifold aspects of political destabilization and war[6].

These matters also touch domestic situations in ‘developed nations’

The issues involved leave none immune they are fully relevant to developed nations and their citizens. Even the nations viewed as role models regarding governance; which are countries that are high on all development indexes; structural and other parameters.

Why are we concerned?

Modern information technology has greatly improved the ability of populations to expose corruption and helps public scrutiny in numerous ways. It is not doable to hide ownership structures, money flow, or personal relations in ways that were possible before the dawn of the digital age.[7] The famous ‘Panama papers’ showcase this.

Perhaps this fact is one of the many reasons why governments are aiming to control information that is online. There can also possibly be legitimate reasons to do so and even there are current thoughts of cyber warfare and cybersecurity which the general public may not be thinking much on[8]. Yet, there are many who are highly critical of government control of the Internet as it reminds of how states have aimed to control traditional media and the history of censorship in the world with relevant issues of danger. Where for instance the “state muted some political voices while amplifying others”[9]. Plenty of discussions is still found on these issues online, for instance at the Washington Post, as in the article: “The U.N. passed a Russia-backed cybercrime resolution. That’s not good news for Internet freedom”. In that article, it is pointed out that the ‘cybercrime’ in question is not so much directed at things like theft or extortion as one might expect but rather possible political dissent.

„The resolution creates a drafting group to create terms of reference for a global “cybercrime” treaty. But the cybercrimes of primary concern here aren’t hacking attacks, privacy violations or identity thefts. Instead, this treaty is intended to create international law that would make it easier for countries to cooperate to repress political dissent.“ [10]

There is a paradox in that the Internet opens up endless avenues for information, wherein theory and actuality technology makes it more difficult to control information flow, while simultaneously governments and corporations are heavily involved in setting up methods of surveillance and even censorship. Many of which work quite robustly. [11] The current case in point is that major corporations have decided to warn the public and authorities against the use of their ‘facial recognition software’.[12]

A Venezuelan editor is quoted in the Atlantic as saying regarding the current dangers of ‘state’ or other ‘big player’ censorship:

“This is not your classic censorship, where they put a soldier in the door of the newspaper and assault the journalists,” Calzadilla told us. “Instead, they buy up the newspaper, they sue the reporters and drag them into court, they eavesdrop on your phone and email communications, and then broadcast them on state television. This is censorship for the 21st century.”[13]

The digital age as a torch?

Possibly it is this modern ability that comes from the digital age that has forced us who live in parts of the world once considered corruption-free to seriously reconsider. It appears crystal clear that some agents both involved in government and business in developed nations have both acted in ways that can be considered ‘theft of public assets” or ‘utilizing of public offices’ to gain undue access or transferal of ownership regarding resources both within their own countries as well as those that have been considered ‘less developed’ – even when they have been supposed to ‘be helping them’. Rebecca Gordon writes an article published in Le Monde diplomatique that shocks the reader, which should already have awareness, into realizing that some of these most serious things have been occurring in the U.S.A. [14]

Other cases appear in relation to Icelandic fishing quotas that have made certain individuals very wealthy after the quotas could be commoditized; bringing all sorts of questions regarding fair process in politics in relation to business and law in Iceland as well as how the systems of the country can be funded if income and profit of resources are heavily streaming towards few people[15]; even flowing to offshore accounts in stupendous amounts[16].  To further shame on shame an Icelandic company has recently been involved in a very serious scandal involving Namibia and its fishing industry and fishing quota systems[17]. The industry and system having been put in place through Icelandic development help. Do other successes justify such things?


After the bank system collapse that happened in Iceland in 2008 foreign investigative journalists entered the country, one of them was Michael Hudson who in April 2009 wrote an article titled “Will Iceland be Handed Over to a New Gang of Kleptocrats?”[18]. Little would he have known that the only counter candidate to the sitting Icelandic President in 2020 would be running up for elections almost with the sole aim of being able to hinder (as a security valve that could refer parliament decisions to national elections) what he considers ‘dangerous privatization and sales’ of government assets including among other possibilities assets in land, energy, and banking all which seem to be underway. The presidential candidate has stated that he fears the EU has turned towards a type of asset forfeiture of natural resources for big business rather than taking care of citizens of nations. He fears that Icelandic politicians are opting for selling the ‘milk cows’ of the nation[19].

Is it well that corporations or people sell what does not belong to them?

Is it acceptable practice to apply various legal or illegal pressures on governments to create partial legislation or other dependencies that may promote possibly “unfair legal ownership”?

“Since colonial times, the law has provided a means to legitimize the appropriation of land and resources [] commercial investments can create economic opportunities for national elites in government or business [] legalization that [] vests resources with the state enables those who control state institutions to advance their own development”[20].

Certain avenues of thought or teaching may be created as justification for such robberies by those powerful enough to apply them.  The Winner of the 2010 Gerald L. Young Book Award – “The Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on the Earth” written by John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark, and Richard York, criticizes ideologies and teachings (as neo-classical economics) for too often being such tools. [21]

Is it alright to point out problems or dangers?

There can be an inherent problem in pointing out “bad” behavior or “misdeeds” as such discriminating action although necessary can easily polarize people. Jennifer Kunst, Ph.D. shows well how unproductive such polarization is in a short informative article in Psychology Today in 2011[22]. One of the difficulties of academia is that theories have to be legitimized and in that legitimization, there is always pointing to the past[23] as in the case of the above-mentioned work that has Marxist connections and then in its very nature can appear anti-freedom, anti-market, anti-west due to former polarization, situations, and comprehensible fears. Ideas often fall into groupings that can have implied meaning as embedded opposition to other ways of thinking and by context people associated with that thought. Potentially at times, purposed solutions are added fuel for polarization and conflict rather than helpful as intended.  It is easy getting people stuck in the trenches when touching upon the contextual meaning or actual power dynamics.

“As Foster et al. point out, one of the most troubling issues in neoclassical economics, and similarly  in  modern  accounting  standards,  is  the  undervaluation  of  the  natural  environment  and  the  corresponding  ability  to  underexpense  its  degradation.  This  is  the  externalization  problem; i.e.,  the  ecological  costs  of  private  activity  are  accrued  to  the  public,  or  at  best,  to  the  state  for  cleanup.”[24]

Enmity is counterproductive

“Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that we have to erect the ramparts of peace… Resolving conflicts nonviolently is one of the most urgent tasks of our modern era.”[25]

The U.N. has pointed out that there are eight areas of focus that can be pillars in ‘a culture of peace‘. Note the 7th point in light of education and the Internet. We can gather that a ‘culture of peace’ would constructively utilize conflict towards peaceful living[26].

  1. Understanding, tolerance and solidarity

  2. Culture of peace through education

  3. Sustainable economic and social development

  4. Respect for all human rights

  5. Equality between women and men

  6. Democratic participation

  7. Participatory communication and the free flow of information and knowledge

  8. International peace and security (including disarmament)[27]

As enmity is counterproductive we seek understanding based on the first premise of ‘a culture for peace’.


We can look at some of the psychological factors involved in the clashes between sound decisions and culture and misuse of nature and resources. There are real psychological and derived health dangers. We can ponder how mediation as a process can matter regarding all these possible conflicts between actors in what regards decisions that affect humanity and the planet.

The U.S. Institute for Peace points out how conflict is a normal part of life and neutral in itself. What matters is the skills we have to bear in the conflicts.

„Conflict is neither intrinsically negative nor positive. In fact, how it plays out is determined entirely by how it is handled—by the attitudes and skills of those involved. Negative assumptions may cause us to try to avoid conflict, or they may lead us to become instantly combative, unwilling or unable to see any possibility of a constructive outcome….. Conflict is not only inevitable, it is essential…[and]…can be managed without violence“[28].

How can it be – that it is often too hard for people to allow awareness of difficulties; and even more so to think about or solve them?

Apart from power competition, rivalry, the threat of exclusion or violence, and actual violence, there are also psychological reasons connected to these issues.

The American Psychologist and Ph.D. in Human Development Studies Lawrence LeShan wrote the book “An Ethic for the Age of Space: A Touchstone for Conduct Among the Stars”. There he addresses the concept of ‘radical evil’ arriving from Immanuel Kant’s essay “Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone” found in Kant’s theory of ethics.  That ‘radical evil’ can be thought of in terms of something considered so terrible that it overwhelms our ability to think about it in our ‘normative frame of reference’.

‘Radical evil’ contradicts all of our inborn psychological safety mechanisms, our psychological and emotional survival systems, and our sense of a functioning self.[29]These systems have been described in books and theories on ‘sense of self’ as Herman Kagan’s “The Psychological Immune system: A New Look at Protection and Survival”[30] or Barbanell’s “Removing the Mask of Kindness: Diagnosis and Treatment of the Caretaker Personality Disorder”.[31]They all point to how awareness and logical processes work in relation to people’s sense of self, security, and emotions.

It requires a lot of us to face reality

It requires training and personal maturity to be able to face prevailing realities as matters that can be classified as ‘radical evil’ are common. For all of us ‘radical evil’ is a great challenge to face in our awareness or perception.

Issues that can be considered ‘radically evil’ are monumentally threatening. Considering ‘radical evil’ can literally break people’s psychological functioning[32].

Topics of known ‘radical evil’ can be for instance: Possible nuclear annihilation or other catastrophic environmental disasters whether instantaneous or gradually encroaching, issues of corruption and crime where there is a high threat of violence, or social exclusion, and other similar difficult topics. Also, such ‘radical evil’ can speak of monstrous acts of inhuman cruelties as for instance shown in writings about mob behavior (crowd psychology)[33] and applied bureaucratic war crime behavior as in the case written about by Hannah Arendt on Eichmann in Jerusalem[34].

According to LeShan the realities or stories of ‘radical evil’ in human minds fit no category, ‘no reality’ exempt “perhaps in one of complete chaos or one run by the devil. But these are not universes that human beings can live in and survive as human”[35].

LeShan further points out that “we must live in an ordered universe or we have no basis for rules for our perceptions, feelings, belief and actions. Radical evil destroys the order of the cosmos and threatens us with living in chaos.” He further writes “how do we human beings behave in the presence of radical evil? Our minds find it very hard to deal with and skitter away from perceiving, accepting or remembering it”.

Catastrophic Anxiety

LeShan describes that such problems as those that can be classified as ‘radical evil’ can cause what in psychiatry may be labeled ‘Catastrophic Anxiety’. ‘Catastrophic Anxiety´ directly attacks people’s ‘sense of self’ and their world is immediately threatened – indirectly but actually their ‘very life’ is.[36]

Issues that awaken such responses make us possibly derailed and explain why we repeatedly avoid the ‘hard issues’ and often apply ‘all our power of denial’ to avoid the impact of the perception as the threat to our personality and sense of reality and to our ability to function in the world is real and must be dealt with[37].

Denial is effective

LeShan points to that one of the seeming ‘best’ ways to deal with such issues is to deny the reality of a problem, and to do nothing about it as that strengthens the feeling that there is no real problem!

Consider how serious this is, how self-defeating these psychological protection mechanisms can be when misapplied. What can they imply if they are part of normal behavior for human beings and groups of people?

People can be in denial together. How long has it taken people groups at times to admit to serious threats and move from territories when needing to leave all possessions behind? These very same psychological protection mechanisms as denial can be perfectly healthy in everyday life as seen in the work of Herman Kagan, and can be useful in processes as a stage for instance when dealing with loss and grief.

Do we participate in ‘radical evil’?

LeShan further explains that people can be in complete denial when engaging in ‘radical evil’ particularly when they through the organization can be ‘concerned about doing a good job’, especially if from a distance.

Examples of such actions can be nuclear testing. We easily see nowadays how nuclear testing has been unwise as with the case of France when they ‘found paradise’ and decided to do nuclear testing.[38] The French for long after aimed at a cover-up regarding environmental destruction and ongoing deaths of people.[39] Regrettably such ‘radically evil’ cases of unwise behavior are many and involve most nations.

Lawrence LeShan Ph.D. is pointing out that corporate and other mechanisms that lead to the destruction of the human species are in fact ‘radical evil’ even if the actors have cognizant dissonance about them as when reaping miscalculated profits or doing nuclear testing.

Facing such issues can bring mob action (think crowd psychology) against those who wish to speak of them through “the public’s passionate rejection of any warning which brings out people’s repressed fears and compels them to face if even for an instant, the hideous and threatening reality around them”[40].

Do we avoid the threat of death through sophistry and ‘normalization’?

LeShan shows that we can ward off facing realities regarding mayhem, destruction, and death even to the point of ‘normalizing them’; making them seem absolutely insignificant and ordinary. This fits with the theories of Ernest Becker Ph.D. made famous in the book ‘The Denial of Death’[41]. In that work, Becker points to our need for controlling existential anxieties so that we can function and thus that we humans conspire to keep ‘death unconscious’. Followingly the paradox that we often fight ‘evil’ in ways that bring more evil into the world (as can be argued regarding nuclear testing) becomes a reality to deal with!

We are starved for truth and need courage

According to acting teacher Josh Pais we the people of the present civilization are starved for truth and authenticity which we find subconsciously spellbinding as opposed to the “ordinary” sophistry and avoidance. He states “we must be very clear that people today are hungry for truth. We, humans, are constantly assessing all information to see if it is truthful.“[42]

Pais’s thought is in line with the thinking of modern marketing gurus as James Gilmore and Joseph Pine II[43] which have found that the mechanics of sophistry are not a workable one-fits-all solution, that there is no panacea for lack of authenticity. They emphasized as early as 2007 that authenticity is the way to go; ‘that at least one has to appear genuine[44].

So does fake make it?

The argument is that authenticity can still be tricky just like human memory for instance. One way of seeing things is that ‘anything is human creation anyway and because of that “fake”[45]. This is postmodern reasoning – that is allowing for a plurality of views on what is moral, right, and true[46]. Lawrence LeShan Ph.D. would argue that such plurality is problematic and at times part of the human denial mechanisms as when the human species is endangered it is not a question of personal views but absolute realities[47].

The work of Gilmore and Pine II tracks the development of consumeristic society through its developmental stages towards what they perceive now to be the ‘Experience Economy’[48]. The experience economy implies that business has to provide sense stimuli in line with traditional entertainment industries as the theater to engage people’s need for something that lifts them out of the mundane. Could the ‘experience economy’ perhaps be part of an array of cultural behavior to help to avoid ‘catastrophic anxieties’ or thoughts on death or working on tasks that necessitate facing ‘radical evil’ to find solutions?

The experience economy can almost be seen as catering to people’s thirst for alternative realities or at least transformative experiences that may be contrasted with other living experiences[49]. Is shopping at times part of denial?

Towards solutions: Science of good decisions?

Morals and ethics in the relationship of business and people to nature

Ethical analysis – what is it? How can it be performed? Is it possible at all when people have different outlooks, priorities, and value reasoning? If so can survival be a common-sense factor?

Can we apply a definition similar to this one?

Ethical analysis: ‘A systematic approach to decision making aiming for outcomes that apply to the wellbeing of as many as possible and positive survival outcomes.’

Normally ethical analysis is defined as a systematic approach to moral decisions. There is however a problem in postmodern society regarding the word “moral” and “morals” as they seem to be viewed in such a way as that any result can be admitted based on that the reasoning is thought to be agreeable at any given time.[50]

Multiple ethical viewpoints and systems exist alongside impersonal ideologies as that “the market”. Simultaneously people and science are to be “objective” indicating that people can lose trust in their own experience and knowledge. This reasoning has been described in the work of José Ortega y Gasset regarding the dangers of people losing a sense of self, wisdom, and agency because of factors as stricter role specializations developing in society. The danger of the “specialist not knowing the inner philosophy (logic – conceptual history) of the science he cultivates, he is much more radically ignorant of the historical conditions requisite for its continuation”[51]. The specialists could in such a way lose sight of the whole and work in destructive ways even without at times realizing it. Gasset’s point bears resemblance to the present critique of modern man being divorced from an understanding of nature. Meaning that a narrow knowledge or interest can become inherently destructive if turning to myopia or lack of concern for others and surroundings.

What then?

Is every man left for him or herself in defining their construct of reality and parameters of existence? Can we not trust specialists for readymade views, feelings, and outlooks?

Do we not know whether to look to church or state, our own backyard, or to try the newest ‘new age course’ in the law of attraction to bolster our moral compass or decision-making ability?

How much experience, reflection and time do it take to develop one’s views so that they work well for oneself in relation to existence and survival outcomes?

Does modern life risk ambivalence, apathy, or nihilism because of the vast availability of information?

Are ideas and ideologies no longer connected to the practicalities of living as a human being?

How can we face the issues and think of decisions?

We and the others

There is the discussion of subjectivity and objectivity[52] that pertains both to modern physics, consciousness research, theories of the brain, and value systems and morals.

Quantum mechanics point to that all seems to be subjective or at minimum, the science for any type of true objectivity is very inconclusive.[53]

Consciousness studies also importantly reverse the problem of subjective and objective perception, thinking, and reasoning: They show forth how it has been important that humans have developed to have the capacity for ‘objective’ reasoning or even ‘objectification’ – this may come in line with the ability to utilize tools for various purposes:

“the brain’s most adaptive property: its capacity to produce states of objectivity. It is proposed that this capacity relies on multiple sensorimotor networks for internally representing objects and their properties in terms of expectancies, as well as on motivational and motor mechanisms involved in exploration, play, and care for vulnerable living and non-living objects”.[54]

Thus considering something as ‘objective’ or reality as somehow objective may be an approximation for practicality in applying oneself.

Obviously, this notion too is an oversimplification. While it connects to that humans are specially endowed to reason about the future being able to sense ‘cause and effect’.

Ethics and future-orientated cognition, a human ability

Future-orientated cognition has often been thought of as a uniquely human ability – that is the ability to be creative and act in the present with regard to the future.

That future-orientated cognition is a uniquely human ability is contested while it is considered rather obvious that humans are especially well endowed in the area.[55]This ability enables us to reflect on the possible consequences of our actions and be involved in ethical or other result-oriented thought.

Would we prefer a chocolate cake with a lot of salt or cream? Do we feel the ability of future-orientated cognition working in us when we think about that? Another question – would it be better to serve our guests such a cake with a thick crust of salt as fish is sometimes presented in or with cream?

We can keep playing with this ability to see how it works for us – it even generates physical reactions that are immediate to our future imagined scenario.

The brain

Actually most often in rest the ‘brain’ – ‘time travels’; imagining lightning fast. We can jump from one thing to another back and forth. Disciplined thought takes focus. [56]

The brain is shaped by the stories we tell, the meanings we hold, and our relations captured in stories or explained through them. Brain activity is also embedded in the stories we tell and are told and responsive regarding what is going on in our environment.[57] How we habitually talk about ourselves, are shaped in conversation, and think of ourselves influences our action potentials: also the moral ones[58].

We are influenced by what we are in relation with, the reactions and meaning generation and stories of others and even simple things as what is going on in the immediate environment; as everyday stressors and stimuli.

Think of if we are walking past a book store and thinking about something else but ‘accidentally’ read the keel of one of the books and start thinking ‘War and Peace’, or we notice a store window and see something we like is on sale. Or we meet an old friend when not expected. These examples are some that show embeddedness in our environment even nature itself. Research, even brain/neuroscience research, has shown that living context as rural or urban (nature – context), as well as other contextual factors, have an effect on how people apply morals[59].

If we are too stricken by the possibility of ‘Catastrophic Anxiety’ when ‘radical evil’ comes up the conversation is not going far, even the thought might be neutralized with denial.

Do we have a science of morals and ethics so that we can be objective in decision making and be spared having to feel about things in a subjective (personal) way?

Subjective or objective morality?

Morals are considered the personal basis of ethical reasoning[60]. It has been argued that morality can never be objective as it is based on persons and their reasoning, or because it can not be universal as a system –  one size fits all.[61]It has also been argued that morality is objective as ‘most people’ would infer similarly about some basic ethical issues. Eric Dietrich Ph.D. argues that morality is objective as ‘harm’ is grounded in facts. Where there is intentional harm there is immorality.[62]

Wasted arguments and idle mental logistics?

Is it still not misplacement of ideas and ideologies to think that we can be subjective about survival? Does a bullet kill or not?

Is subjective the same as personal? And then objective same as interpersonal or even impersonal?

Catherine Wilson Ph.D. in Philosophy discusses how to approach morals based on science in an article named “The Scientific Perspective on Moral Objectivity”. There she shows very clearly how “the potential objectivity of moral beliefs can be understood within a naturalistic framework by considering moral truth as the outcome of a diachronic process of inquiry”[63]. That is similarly how we understand scientific truth – as supposedly the best and most verifiable we have got so far as a result of our common human inquiry.

In this way, Catherine Wilson Ph.D. is showing us the folly of halting ethical reasoning or inquiry by dualistic arguments for or against subjectivism or objectivity. Focusing instead on what can be an enforceable and practical solution; not pointing to simplistic self-selection which would be a part of the reasoning for more absolute subjectivity. Her work is based on affirming the role of science in bringing forth solutions that are workable and closer to a real realm of objectivity. She writes:

“The naturalistic approach to metaethics is sometimes identified with a supervenience theory relating moral properties to underlying descriptive properties, thereby securing the possibility of objective knowledge in morality as in chemistry. I reject this approach along with the purely anthropological approach which leads to an objectionable form of relativism. There is no single method for arriving at moral objectivity any more than there is a single method that has taken us from alchemy to modern chemistry. Rather, there is an ensemble of (cognitive) instruments, techniques, experiments and observations that contribute to eliminating moral error, delivering what we are entitled to call greater objectivity”.[64]

Where can we find the power to look at issues and make decisions that take reality into account?

Our sense of self in relation to initiative, responsibility, and ethics – narrative matters

An article in the Guardian indicates that some people opt for feeling insignificant instead of feeling pressured by the realities of their environment![65]

Abundant information[66] and all sorts of “requirements” for success or performance can help create deep existential anxieties. The solution to this as a psychological reaction for some is found in personal insignificance, to diminish the meaning and risks; some type of an inaccurately defined nihilism.[67]

Are they who subscribe to such views perhaps the best consumers having become docile? Do they seek entertainment over self-selected suffering that might bring them future benefits? Have they lost out on the tribal idea that human ‘effort is as working-worship’ i.e. that effort brings community and personal benefit[68]. Such questioning might be too harsh, as those who systematically espouse their own lack of worth may be stuck in denial or unhealthy psychological dynamics. They may be victims of existential fears or ‘Catastrophic Anxieties’, denying or normalizing their concerns to avoid their realities.

Is it so that only particularly happy and well-balanced people can face very alarming issues without a serious threat to their ‘sense of self’ and their actual felt and realizable safety, psychological and actual, in this world?

How we construct meaning especially through narrative regarding serious issues such as those that are ‘radical evil’ as regarding the worst environmental hazards requires wisdom and mutual empowering action. Our talk will shape our psychological reactions and action possibilities[69].

Views, explanations, and opinions vs. realities

Modern views expressing meaninglessness and postmodern ambivalence counter decades of psychological and other research realities:

These realities are found in many places including in the famous ‘Harvard study on adult development’[70], the work of Ph.D. Lawrence LeShan and that of Ph.D. Victor Frankl[71].

The common factor in this tremendous work connected around the theme of human development (nowadays seen in ‘happiness research’ and ‘positive psychology’) is a very strong emphasis on that for individuals to develop in the best ways (survival and success outcome) they specifically need to find meaning and purpose as well as healthy connections worthy of that meaning.  What makes you tick? [72]

Optimal adult development – and ability to make decisions regarding ‘radical evil’

How do we manage to energize ourselves so that we can face life in its reality, even with issues of ‘radical evil’?

One factor has come forth through the research of one of the giants in the current discussion Ph.D. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has shown how people are energized by moments of being in the zone which he calls being in flow: where there is a balance of applying learned skills and challenge at hand.[73] This can most easily for many be understood in terms of sport or artistry that is meaningful to people.

Focusing in a way that was absorptive power or the state of flow helped Alice Herz-Sommer a musician who was a holocaust survivor get through the painful experiences of losing family members and friends as well as having been in a concentration camp for two years.[74]

The documentary “Everything is Present: The Wonder & Grace of Alice Sommer Herz” directed by Christopher Nupen depicts her love of music and personality in light of her story.[75]Alice Herz-Sommer shows forth how ‘flow’ helps with psychological strength and also physical health, Alice lived to become 110 years old.

Nourishing ourselves through flow can help us to be cognizant of difficulties and even of ‘radical evil’. Psychological health and strength are needed, even happiness, to think on and act regarding the most difficult issues which are those that can threaten the ‘self’ and create ‘Catastrophic Anxiety’[76].

Lack of psychological well-being, denial, and a more limited view of the interconnection

In light of this research evidence and the work of Øvind Kvalnes Associate Professor at BI The Norwegian Business School, specializing in ‘moral reasoning’, it may be possible that our opinions drawing on the insignificance of things, situations, or self, as when we do not want to apply ethical or moral reasoning but as a matter of taste, are based on denial mechanisms[77]. Alternatively, such views may be simplistic, insincere, even propaganda for commercial or other purposes[78].

We can also question opinions that are overly individualistic, classify too strictly, or lack understanding of interconnections. Such opinions or theories built on them may diminish personal agency and responsibility as theories of “the market” can do when removing thought of personal agency or of “the firm” when removing a sense of personal responsibility. Hence they in part may possibly also be an attempt of ‘the self’ to make issues less significant and a lesser threat to remove ‘anxieties’ or ‘responsibilities’. We have to apply both our personal and collective discretion to know if it is so or not.

Information and factors in decision making

Is everything left open-ended as it is too hard for us to face issues at hand?

There are decidedly many positive effects of the modern abundance of information that has arrived through our expansion and interactions that can be said to derive in part from ‘postmodern’ factors.

Digital technologies help with all sorts of innovation, accelerate science and increase the possibilities in reflecting as on “other cultures”. For an informative list and reflection of such positives visit the Pew Research Center’s web.[79] In spite of the positives the person who undertakes to reflect from the abundant possibilities risks anxieties and uncertainties[80].

Paul Hemp wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review named “Death by Information Overload” published in 2009 where he points in a light way to some very serious issues that can both affect personal psychological and physical health as well as the health and effectiveness of organizations. At the end of the article, he sort of brushes the issues off to make people feel better[81]. Digital technology has been evermore intertwined with people’s lives.

When we know of more ‘radical evil’ that is ongoing because of easier access to information and also because the information can show us the ‘humanity’ or frailty of ‘authority or people in positions of power (we would like to hope they can solve all issues) we risk encountering ‘Catastrophic Anxiety’.

What can we do?

Apply metamodernism to counter the overstretch of the postmodern world?
We can apply what we have learned from ‘happiness research’ and ‘positive psychology to help us be stronger so that we are more ‘resilient’[82]. Furthermore, we will see that mediation can also be a proactive discipline that can help actors shape ‘narrative’ and solutions from more early stages.

We can as individuals and groups think on our parameters and wishes regarding decision making so that we are more likely to make better decisions when under pressure.

Working for our psychological health and enjoyment in life and our creative expression becomes ever more important so that we can be responsible and active citizens or participants in business, politics, and other endeavors.

This is the ‘metamodern view’ that seeks to: reconstruct “things that have been deconstructed with a view toward reestablishing hope and optimism in the midst of a period (the postmodern period) marked by irony, cynicism, and despair.”[83]

Let us look at some of the connected issues which are good for us to be aware of when making meaning of the conflict that can happen between taking care of nature and other people and our immediate pressures in decision making.

Ethics? Ethics and decision-making?

Ethics and acceleration of computer technology?

Ethics and morality work by force of habit as when issues serious enough for ethical consideration occur the stimuli can be sufficient to create automatic responses.[84] Definitions of morals and ethics for modern society have been put forth in the work of Diago José García Capilla Associate Professor in Moral and Political Philosophy as seen in his article “From Postmodern Ethics to the New Ethics of the ME Generation: The Transition from Mass Media to the Internet”.[85]

Capilla summarizes what has influenced today’s scenery: “Postmodernism, a culture of vague boundaries, boosted values such as individualism and superficial character, with the Mass Media as a crucial factor in spreading them.”[86]

These postmodern variables with easier access to computer technology have helped with the aggregation of data and acceleration of impersonal decision-making in business (superficial character).

Decisions of superficial character

The best case in point regards the effects of technology on the ‘size of decisions’ in terms of ‘entanglement of effects’ where it is difficult or even impossible to know what market implications or other implications might be[87].

Companies with a high level of ‘immaterial assets’ and profitability as technology companies and some others have due to high earnings in relation to physical and other assets started to act like investment banks or empires within countries, economic areas, or in the world economy. That those companies behave in very expanded ways tells us that our economies are in some aspects in very non-linear relationships with applied work, utilization of natural resources, and so on. This brings a logarithmic increase in the magnitude of risk potentiality that is unforeseeable and dependent on contextual variables.[88]The risk also hangs on confusion with information, meaning, and wisdom made possible in modern times; as data aggregation can hinder access, understanding, and personal overview regarding the individual variables and their connection with ‘reality[89]. In addition coding errors and errors in the use of statistics and mathematics abound[90]. The errors are multiplied because of the expanded use of technology, easier access to it by humans of varying capabilities, the multiplying factors of technology interacting with itself, and other modern factors.[91]

This is serious as we still run our nations and economies on the basis of decisions made from data aggregation.

If mathematics is not properly understood in relation to reality it can lead to ‘detached instrumental and calculative reasoning’[92]; such reasoning misses the mark when we aim for positive survival outcomes just as debasing self misses the mark when we aim for survival for ourselves. The detachment available through data aggregation might at times be connected with the need to reduce the possibility of ‘Catastrophic Anxiety’ or help with denial of the realities that might be inherent in the numbers if they were sourced to the realities they represent.

Modern times and decision making

The increased computing ease available with computer technology from the 1970s onwards has increased nonsense thinking based on aggregates; for instance, when financial actors can miss the understanding of the financial instruments they are using or influencing.[93]Not to speak of the relationship of their decisions to the natural habitat, or actual lives of other people[94]. This has spawned a movement of financial professionals who want to make financial decisions to serve society: “Destroying a rainforest for economic gain is like is like burning a Renaissance painting to cook a meal (E.O. Wilson).”[95]Jason West Ph.D. goes so far as to maintain that quantitative finance needs specialized ethics to counter problems that have become all too frequent in the field[96]. This is the field that is heavily influencing all business and political decisions as well as obviously financial markets.

History and decision making

The remains of history – competition and destruction – geopolitical competition for resources

In former times destruction was thought of as an aid to investment as a process where destruction would lead to investments needed to amp up the economy, or looting would bring home wealth without care of the destruction brought to others. Ideas were built on the clan, the seeming abundant areas for migration and by extension the birth of the nation-state that could seemingly enrich itself at the cost of others by warfare and destruction that would later bring access to labor, resources, and flows of necessary reinvestments to rebuild countries after the ruins of war. The first concern was often for power and the second for wellbeing and building blocks through a period that included extensive warfare and colonization.[97]

Decision making and strategy

The ideas of war migrated into business development through disciplines as a strategy when former military men took over the control of companies after WWII[98]. Earlier than WWII the first corporations could be seen as extensions of power structures and at times reviled state powerful enough to finally get into such trouble as to be dealt with by state authorities that wanted to maintain their power. The British East India Company would be a prime example of such an operation raiding the world based on mercantile thought and principles.[99]We are still dealing with the fact that one company when it destroys assets of other companies or natural resources owned by others does not readily take these losses into account in its own accounts: allowing calculation errors regarding destruction from the viewpoint of the many that even show up as profits in statements.[100]A steady stream of theories has emerged to deal with such issues: From Agency Theories in relation to Theory of the Firm,[101]Stakeholder Theory[102], Corporate Governance[103], The Economics of Governance[104], and obviously local and international law to name a few schools of thought addressing them.

Surprisingly, or not, ethics or business ethics as a concept has often been meeting with a type of sarcasm made to indicate that ethics are far removed from the business and thought on ethics is lofty and fails to be ‘practical’.[105]An example is found in an article named “The Corporate Ethics Crusade” published in Foreign Affairs in 2001, starting with the sentence “ARE MULTINATIONAL ENTERPRISES getting religion?”[106] Perhaps, or even likely, such brushing to the side of the issue of the ethical dimensions or consequences of business decisions and actions is part of the defense mechanisms we have seen in relation to ‘radical evil’ and ‘Catastrophic Anxiety”.

Responsible everyday decisions?

When Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) first emerged more strongly in the public and academic discussion it seemed like a theoretical or even legal initiative to be taken over. Examples of the takeover are mainly twofold: Corporate consultants could cash in on making complex reporting mechanisms like the Global Reporting Initiative.[107]Or CSR was utilized as a concept embedded in ‘Corporate Communications’, ‘Branding’ and related activities within fields related to ‘marketing’[108]. Both of these avenues could then remove the ethical dimension from the central ordinary management practices of the firm; similarly to when departments in firms become silos (isolated in some aspects from others) hindering holistic thinking and overall performance. [109] Also, this tendency of divorcing causal agents from effects has spun the current trade-in pollution quotas. [110]Is this behavior part of denial mechanisms?

Decision making and money

Can we fix the issues by spending more money?

Investment in education innovation and other solutions mechanisms helps while it understandably does not directly effect current damaging behavior.

It has been seen that investments can not readily “fix” issues as nuclear pollution even though there is some hope of new solutions coming along[111].  Health effects and effects on nature still are in the realm of ‘radical evil’ that can promote ‘Catastrophic Anxiety”. The same anxieties can be evoked in relation to myriad other topics as all the most serious issues connected to business, humans, and the planet. The logic of gaining at another’s cost has been broken because of modern interconnectedness influenced by such hazards[112], while accounting and many other management disciplines are just awakenings to the fact.[113]

“Instead of tinkering around the edges of the market with new products and services, business must now transform it.”[114]

What we need are methods and ways of living that help alleviate the possible reaction to ‘radical evil’ as a topic that has to be dealt with so that ‘Catastrophic anxiety’ is not the response but rather what can generate solutions. These anxieties that can be ‘normal self-preservation’ are reactions in healthy individuals and not classic anxiety disorders, although they can lead to such anxieties[115]  or existential angst[116].

Existential angst is more relevant in the current times than often before. It relates to issues as ‘the war on terrorism, the proliferation of online media showing varied dangers, ‘climate change, and other issues that are constantly in media and discussion.[117]

“Now we are more practiced than ever in spotting potential ends. We have made sport of it. We find wrenching, apocalyptic change lurking inside everything — enough to invoke just the kind of despair European intellectuals used to write plays about.“[118]

The solutions that can help people remain functional and not fall into ‘Catastrophic Anxiety” are mostly found in interpersonal communication, relationships, and maturing of the personality – as seen by the theories of ‘positive psychology’ and previously mentioned ‘happiness research’.

Money = Success

Individual actors in business and politics – the danger of burnout – or ‘Catastrophic anxiety’

Success at work was valued so highly in the industrial world after the devastation of WWII that it even at times became an avenue of a ‘socially accepted addiction’[119].

We realize that the discipline of psychology has evolved greatly from WWII pointing us to destructive and healthy behavior[120].

In 1983 one of the first efforts to create a fellowship around work addiction recovery began in New York with Workaholics Anonymous.[121]Escaping difficult realities, emotions, and ‘Catastrophic Anxieties’ through work was long overlooked as addiction while modern psychology has directly shown forth how ‘burnout’ has affected especially the helping professions as firemen and the police very seriously.[122]

In a cultural climate where work is a survival necessity and ‘keeping at it is seen as a virtue those having a harder time of regulating boundaries and emotional drain face serious risks. When people who are in ‘burnout’ make decisions under pressure they have a much lower chance to make good decisions[123]. These same very facts can well apply within the corporate world and regarding business decisions. We do not have to watch the film The Wolf of Wall Street to comprehend that.

Gerald Loren Fishkin Ph.D. has written and talked extensively on burnout and how shame developed from early childhood can make peoples’ lives difficult when they constantly aim for external recognition at the cost of feeling themselves.[124]It has become famous how some citizens have died from overwork; stress and lack of sleep are non-surprisingly lethal as well as before death impairing judgment and leading to bad decisions.[125]

Dying for a paycheck

Stanford business professor Jeffrey Pfeffer has written the book ‘Daying for a paycheck’. In it he shows how modern business and management practices are toxic destroying physical and emotional health. He maintains the necessity of building ‘human sustainability at work.

“Think of the manager in a senior finance role whose immense workload, once handled by several employees, required frequent all-nighters—leading to alcohol and drug addiction.”[126]

Money = business and ethics

Does this have anything to do with ethics?

Do we have any type of obligation to care for others? Is it a matter of survival realities for humanity that someone cares about the emotional health of business managers?

In an Irish Times article, the question was asked what Aristotle would make of the Irish banking crisis. It was answered so:

“He would see the crisis in the banks as an example of what can happen when people ignore the requirement to manage their desires for both their own good and the good of society, which are interdependent. We are naturally social creatures from the existence of family, friends and society.“[127]

The world has witnessed grave economic and natural disasters because of unethical business practices.[128]As “there is a growing realization that existing institutional designs for corporate business structures are proving to be expansive for the larger community, there is growing pressure for a change”.[129]

Ethical analysis – natural resources and business decisions – what are the ways out?

It can be problematic to narrowly define ethical issues and relegate them to philosophical puzzles rather than to think in terms of management, governance, and individual decision-making. Decisions are also shaped by habitual ways of reasoning and thinking and ethical dimensions need to be part of that habit[130]. Otherwise, ethics just become one more avenue of exploration for the specialists divorced from reality and other people (see Gasset).

What practical options can there be regarding these issues we are looking at? What about mediation? Can mediation be one of the disciplines that helps transform businesses and societies so that human life can be sustained longer on the planet? Especially now that businesses and governments need to reinvent themselves to take note of environmental hazards – as discussed regarding ‘The Circular Economy’[131].


A Canadian study on mediation in the late 1990s showed mediation to be “a dynamic, complex and evolving work form”, where differences in the nature of mediation were readily found with different mediators.[132]

There is a plurality in the definitions of mediation showing an expanding field in action; there are different ideologies, methods, and views on quality, effective process, and standardization vs. the need for the mediator to apply personal skills[133].

Unlike courts or arbitrators, mediators do not impose solutions on parties, they aim to facilitate a process respecting the autonomy and self-determination of the involved parties to reach solutions acceptable to all involved[134].

The process of mediation itself has even been cast in the metaphor of ‘the black box’ i.e. that as the processes of mediation can be highly sensitive and confidential they are difficult to observe even for those being trained to enter the field as professional mediators: “mediation occurs in a black-box where there is no public viewing”.[135]

A view of mediation as a black-box may diminish how mediation is central to many human activities and how there is a variety of existent processes for problem-solving relations between humans both interpersonal and in group dynamics.  Solution processes that can be facilitated range from private consultation of individuals towards all sorts of group dynamics for instance there are interpersonal methods as the Non-Violent Communication of Marshall Rosenberg Ph.D.[136] and group methods as talking circles described for instance by Lewis Mehl-Madrona Ph.D.[137]All processes can be readily applicable for the mediator.

Why could such a misunderstanding exist regarding mediation being mystical or a ‘black box process?

It could be because the view of many is that a ‘dispute’ should be at the last stages before mediation is applied; when the need for confidentiality, neutrality, and very sensitive care might be most understandable to avoid things boiling over[138].

Professor Lawrence Susskind at the Harvard Law School’s program on negation clarifies that too many think of mediation as a last result for issues when it should be clear that mediation is a proactive problem-solving process and could be the first step in a collaborative effort to ward off a problem or work out a creative solution.[139] Such a view allows for a ‘preemptive process’ as well as more open access to what is ongoing and because of that easier learning opportunities for those entering the field.

Role relationships

Mediation has often been thought of based on that mediators should be impartial or neutral. Perhaps that is as the mediator is facilitating increased awareness of the participants regarding the issues at hand, and ways to look for solutions while not imposing predetermined outcomes.[140] This is one aspect that clarifies what is the main difference between diplomacy and mediation as diplomats are to further the interests of those they represent, which may go alongside other interests or not, while mediators are to help parties reach solutions that at best further the interests of all involved.[141]

Nevertheless, the mediator’s ability to be ‘neutral’ is often referred to as a myth:

“Neutrality is arguably no longer an uncontested founding principle for the practice of mediation since both academic studies and practice reflections have found it to be absent in practice… it points to the development of an alternative conception of neutrality, one that abandons neutrality in an absolute sense, but reframes its meaning in relation to that of party self-determination.“[142]

There is a richness in how mediators think about their work, there are also many approaches portrayed in the academic literature as ‘bargaining’, ‘therapeutic’, ‘settlement frame’, ‘transformative’ and more.[143]Perhaps the strictest classifications in mediation are twofold in what regards mediation in the affairs of civilians and civil life or mediation that is geared towards hindering armed conflict[144].

In this paper, we will now put the idea forth that Mediation can be uniquely positioned to help people talk about issues and solutions connected to what are issues of ‘radical evil’ that might provoke ‘Catastrophic anxieties’. Then the process of mediation can be based on the principles of preemptive work, bringing parties together to honestly face reality and look for solutions in a facilitated process. The process can begin with awareness with mediators themselves regarding the psychological and other factors we have been going through in this paper. If so mediation can help utilize resources better from a more holistic standpoint and perhaps help avoid some catastrophes by bringing relevant parties into a solution process that helps surface and face possible ‘radical evil’ with care regarding possible ‘Catastrophic Anxiety’.

Mediation to help with ethical decision making – sometimes by slowing down for a while we can go faster later.

‘Slow is smooth – smooth is fast’ is a reputed special operation saying. Meaning that if we go too fast to have quality in our processes we increase the likelihood of failure. Some steps like preemptive mediation might seem unnecessary while they will bring increased clarity, better decisions and thus will be especially practical.[145]

Ethical decision making what are the steps[146]

The following checklist comes from the International Center for Ethics in Business at the University of Kansas.

“1.Gather the facts 2. Define the ethical issues 3. Identify the affected parties (stakeholders) 4. Identify the consequences 5. Identify the obligations (principles, rights, justice) 6. Consider your character and integrity 7. Think creatively about potential actions 8. Check your gut 9. Decide on the proper ethical action and be prepared to deal with opposing arguments.”

We need as indicated by the 3rd point to consider stakeholders; those that are involved or are to be involved in our mediation between our decision-makers and the consequences for the planet and people. The decision-makers may be reminded about issues regarding their character and integrity and be lead with others into a creative conversation that can bring solutions undetermined by the mediator.

Talks take place all the time regarding people and nature whilst they have to be central in modern times with their serious threats that necessitate special innovation in connection to the ‘circular economy’ and sustainable development.[147]

Mediation is a discipline is designed to help awareness and solutions and to reduce tensions.[148]It can help those who realize the benefit and have authority to make decisions, it brings support in facilitating solutions where the possibility of high tension exists or is already present. Mediation is a discipline has an understanding that ‘conflicts’ are normal and can be dealt with non-violently; it already has an eye towards the storm. One of the main goals of mediation is to help issues surface so that they can be seen and dealt with; “information is surfaced to service the parties rather than serving the mediator”[149]. This mediation can be viewed as a highly relevant process of problem-solving [150] regarding the issues at hand for humanity in modern times. There is a current call for increased research into mediation so that its applicability can be more easily utilized in an enlarged way, as it is considered useful and needed for problem-solving serious issues[151].

Can proactive mediation help? Remarks and reflection

The field of mediation has been criticized as having an over-emphasis on techniques rather than broader education answering the questions on when and why to apply mediation.[152] With this paper, the hope is to instigate more thought on the potentialities of mediation in tackling issues more preemptively. Helping those involved in decision making as for instance regarding utilization of natural resources for business purposes facing the ‘radical evil’ of serious environmental hazards or other issues pertaining to the ‘radical evil’ category that may have been ‘normalized’ to avoid the psychological factors that pertain to ‘Catastrophic Anxieties’ and perhaps death. If such factors are ‘normalized’ or relegated somehow, the danger is ‘denial’ that debases the individual, business, and society along with innovation and other solution possibilities regarding the said issues. ‘What Makes a Good Mediator?’ The blog of the Harvard Law School program on negotiation asks and answers “To gain parties’ trust and confidence, rapport must be genuine: “You can’t fake it,” one respondent said“[153]. And now we know – we cannot fake it. We will have to face the real issues and tackle them together. The skilled mediator can help surface issues of ethics in relation to decisions as well as factors pertaining to psychological realities and well-being, bringing hope and constructive engagement to the relevant parties.


A variety of thought and research has been quoted to open the eyes of the reader to how we humans may aim to ‘normalize’ difficult issues even to the point of ‘ridiculing’ talking of ethics in relation to business to avoid being cognizant of existential threats. A number of current issues have been drawn forth to enhance the description. Especially the paper builds on Immanuel Kant’s concept of ‘radical evil’ as expanded upon by Lawrence LeShan Ph.D. Postmodern thinking has been shown to be overemphasizing subjectivity (no objective reality) to the point of mistaken nihilism. Becoming then a ‘cultural outlook’ that may expand upon anxieties especially in relation to the proliferation of information technology that helps us be more cognizant of possible threats and human frailties – as corruption, censorship, and others. Postmodernism also in part might be symptomatic of such ‘psychological defense’ mechanisms as discussed in this paper which is operated by ‘making things and self seem insignificant as a part of denial. A similar issue presents itself in data aggregation extensively used in ‘decision making’ which may readily be problematic in leading to “detached instrumental and calculative reasoning” and especially dangerous if compounded by increased likelihood for errors that follows easier access to computer technology, programming errors and unsound use of financial models, accounting and mathematics.

These factors are the crux of the conflict between nature and man – the issues are heavy and difficult to think on and solve evoking: “the public’s passionate rejection of any warning which brings out people’s repressed fears and compels them to face if even for an instant, the hideous and threatening reality around them”[154].

A ‘metamodern view’ of these factors seeks to: reconstruct “things that have been deconstructed with a view toward reestablishing hope and optimism in the midst of a period (the postmodern period) marked by irony, cynicism, and despair.”[155]  The building blocks for such hope can arrive in part from psychology that points to meaning, embeddedness in relation to others and nature through stories (brain functioning i.e. how we talk and listen  – also professionally[156]). Prime examples are ‘happiness psychology’ and ‘positive psychology’ which can help us with methods and ideas for resilience and what it takes to face ‘difficult realities’.

Centrally it is highlighted that Mediation is a process that can reestablish hope and solutions taking note of the findings of the discipline of psychology and derived methods:

Mediation is a process defined by respect for the participants’ autonomy and not imposing predetermined outcomes. It is suggested by the report and reflection of this paper that mediation can be applied as a preemptive process that helps parties deal with difficult issues – even those classifiable as ‘radical evil’ – by process rather than denial (which can lead to ‘Catastrophic Anxiety’) and lack of positive action. Also then it is suggested that mediation can help if denial or anxiety are present by its surfacing of information through the mediation as a problem-solving process.

It is recommended that those who make decisions, especially those that have large-scale effects, know that they can bring in mediation as a process when dealing with various stakeholders or wish for process support with difficult issues. Especially if they become self-aware regarding anxiety or denial, a tendency to rely overly much on aggregate data or are engaged in issues that routinely bring ‘psychological self-protection mechanisms’ into the picture. Mediation should be considered and applied as a preemptive problem-solving process.


When a process is started early with mediation there may be less likelihood for denial to build up, than if mediation is sought as a resort for a difficult situation. Might it be easier to maintain communication channels to a variety of stakeholders when applying preemptive mediation as a described course of action than looking to it as a last resort?

Making professionalism overly ‘detached instrumental and calculative’ marked by philosophies and cultural outlook built ‘marked by irony, cynicism, and despair’ does not appeal to reason as being the most sensible stand to take. It makes absolute sense that for people to deal with difficulty they need to have a sense of hope and preferably psychological safety.  It also makes sense that it is not sufficient to look to aggregates in terms of data for decision-making. Rather it makes sense to take a hint from ‘research on adult development[157] which showcases that our relations to others, our context, is what matters for thriving. We might want to look towards reemphasizing human connection through knowledge of processes and interaction. Is it time for a ‘metamodern view’ wherein we build hope and meaning and apply ourselves to facing difficult realities together?

A further application is needed of mediation as a preemptive problem-solving process that can help navigate the interests of businesses, governments, other stakeholders, and our embedded environment. Research of applied preemptive mediation is encouraged.

[1] Akintunde, “Theories and Concepts for Human Behavior in Environmental Preservation”, Journal of Environmental Science and Public Health, August 30, 2017. Accessed June 24, 2020.

Bennardo editor, “Cultural Models of Nature: Primary Food Producers and Climate Change”, Routledge, Published March 19, 2019. ISBN 9781351127905

[2] Le Page, “Destruction of nature is as big a threat to humanity as climate change”, New Scientist, May 6, 2019. Accessed June 24, 2020.

[3] See

[4] See the Ellen Macarthur Foundation

[5] Greenberg, Samuel et al. “Stolen Assets Recovery: A Good Practice Guide For Non-Conviction Based Asset Forfeiture”, The World Bank Washington, D.C., 2019. ISBN: 978-0-8213-7890-8

[6] Le Billon, “The Political ecology of war: Natural resources and armed conflict”, Political Geography, June 2001. Accessed June 24, 2020.

[7] Adam and Fazekas, “Are emerging technologies helping with the fight against corruption in developing countries?”, Pathways for Prosperity Commission Background Paper Series; no. 21. Oxford, United Kingdom. Accessed June 26, 2020.

[8] Gregory, “Government Control of the Internet”, SLAW, January 16, 2013. Accessed June 30, 2020.

[9] McDowell, “This is why the government should never control the internet”, The Washington Post, July 14, 2014. Accessed June 30, 2020.

[10] Sherman & Raymond, “The U.N. passed a Russia-backed cybercrime resolution. That’s not good news for internet freedom”, The Washington Post, December 4, 2019. Accessed June 30, 2020.

[11] Naím and Bennet, “The Anti-Information Age”, The Atlantic, February 16, 2015. Accessed June 26, 2020.

[12] Ovide, “A Case for Banning Facial Recognition”, The New York Times, June 9, 2020. Accessed June 29, 2020.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Gordon, “Home, sweet kleptocracy”, Le Monde diplomatique, November 24, 2015. Accessed June 26, 2020.

[15] Oliver and Goodwin, “How They Blew It: The CEO’s and Entrepreneurs Behind Some of the World’s Most Catastrophic Business Failures”, KoganPage, 2010. ISBN: 9780749460655.

Kokorsch and Benediktsson, “Prosper or Perish? The development of Icelandic fishing villages after the privatization of fishing rights”, Maritime Studies, May 22, 2018. Accessed June 24, 2020.

[16] Obermaier and Obermayer, “A storm is coming”, Suddeautche Zeitung, April 2016. Accessed June 25, 2020.

[17] Windhoek, “Iceland’s Samherji exiting Namibia following bribery scandal”, Reuters, January 18, 2020. Accessed June 26, 2020.

[18] Hudson, “Will Iceland be Handed Over to a New Gang of Kleptocrats?”, Counterpunch, April 29, 2009. Accessed June 26, 2020.

[19] Jonsson, “Guðmundur Franklin vill afhjúpa nafnlause elítu”, Stundin, June 20, 2020. Accessed June 26, 2020.

[20] Cotula, “Law and political economy of the global resource squeeze: can action rise to the challenge?”, International Institute for Environment and Development, March 4, 2019. Accessed June 25, 2020.

[21] Published by Monthly Review Press, November 1, 2010. ISBN-10: 1583672184

[22] Kunst, “To Be Polarized Is To Be Paralyzed”, Psychology Today, November 16, 2011. Accessed June 24, 2020.

[23] Van Mannen, “Style As Theory”, Organization Science, February 1995. Accessed June 24, 2020.

[24] Lawrence, K.S.  Review of “The Ecological Rift: Capitalism‘s War on the Earth; by John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark, and Richard York. Journal of World-Systems Research17(2), 553-556 Accessed June 25, 2020.

[25] Zur, “The love of hating: The psychology of Enmity”, History of European Ideas, vol 13, no 2. Date unknown. Accessed June 29, 2020.

[26] Colgan et al, Rethinking Conflict: Its Role in Building Peace”, United States Institute of Peace, October 18, 2017. Accessed June 30, 2020.

[27] Fabick (editor), “Enemy Images – A Resource Manual on Reducing Enmity”, Psychologists for Social Responsibility, date unknown after 2010. Accessed June 30, 2020.

[28] See note 26.

[29] LeShan, “An Ethic for An Age of Space: A Touchstone for Conduct Among the Stars”. Reed Wheel/Weiser, April 1996. ISBN-10: 0877288542

[30] Kagan, “The Psychological Immune System: A New Look at Protection and Survival”, Authorhouse, January 20, 2006. ISBN-10: 1420890050

[31] Barbanell, “Removing the Mask of Kindness: Diagnosis and Treatment of the Caretaker Personality Disorder”, Jason Aronson, October 16, 2006. ISBN-10: 0765704102

[32] See note 29.

[33] Reicher, “Stephan Reicher on Crowd Psychology”, Social Science Space, February 26, 2016. Accessed June 30, 2020.

[34] Arendt, “Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil”, Penguin Classics, September 22, 2006 (this edition), ISBN-10: 9780143039884

[35] See note 29.

[36] Ibid.

[37] See note 29.

[38] JIA Editorial Board, “Trouble in Paradise: Oscar Temaru on Nuclear Testing and Independence Aspirations”, Journal of International Affairs, October 10, 2018. Accessed June 26, 2020.

[39] Ibid.

[40] Quoting LeShan where he quotes Arthur Koestler, “The Trail of the Dinosaur”, Macmillan, 1956. P. 148

[41] Becker, “The Denial of Death”, Free Press, November 1, 1973. ISBN-10:  0029021502

[42] See Josh Pais‘s web: and interviews with Josh Pais on youtube.

[43] Schachter, “Let’s get real about authenticity”, The Globe and Mail, January 9, 2008. Accessed June 25, 2020.—about-authenticity/article666150/

[44] Ibid.

[45] Gilmore and Pine II, “Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want”, Harvard Business Review Press, September 24, 2007. ISBN-10: 1591391458

[46] See note 23 and 65.

[47] See note 29.

[48] Pine II and Gilmore, “The Experience Economy: Work is Theater & Every Business a Stage”, Harvard Business Review School Press, April 1999. ISBN-10: 0875848192

[49] Ibid.

[50] García-Capilla, “From Postmodern Ethics to the New Ethics of the Me Generation: The Transition from Mass Media to the Internet, Comunicacion Y Sociedad Vol. XXV, Num. 1, 2012. Accessed June 25, 2020.

[51] Jose Ortega Y Gasset, “The Revolt of the Masses”, W.W. Norton Company Inc. 1932. ASIN: B001E3DN4C Accessed June 25, 2020.

[52] Van Doorn, “So You Think Humans Can’t Know Objective Reality”,, August 6, 2018. Accessed June 25, 2020.

[53] Fedrizzi and Proietti, “Quantum physics, our study suggests objective reality doesn’t exist”, The Conversation, November 14, 2019. Accessed June 27, 2020.

[54] Dijker, “Consciousness a neural capacity for objectivity, especially pronounced in humans”, Frontiers in Psychology, March 17, 2014. Accessed June 27, 2020.

[55] Osvath and Martin-Ordas, “The future of future-oriented cognition in non-humans: theory and the empirical case of the great apes“, Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, November 5, 2014. Accessed June 27, 2020.

[56] Johnson, “The Human Brain is a Time Traveller”, The New York Times, November 15, 2018. Accessed June 27, 2020.

[57] Mehl-Madrona, “Remapping your Mind: The Neuroscience of Self Transformation through Story”, Bear & Company, July 26, 2015. ISBN-10: 159143209X

[58] Ibid.

[59] Caravita et al, “Socio-economic factors related to moral reasoning in childhood and adolescence: the missing link between brain and behavior“, frontiers in Human Nauroscience, September 24, 2012. Accessed July 3, 2020.

[60] The Ethics Centre, “Ethics, morality, law – what’s the difference?, The Ethics Centre, September 26, 2016. Accessed June 27, 2020.

[61] Coyne, “Why there is no objective morality”,, July 24, 2013. Accessed July 27, 2020.

[62] Dietrich, “Morality is Objective”, Psychology Today, December 23, 2017. Accessed June 27, 2020.

[63] Wilson, “The Scientific Perspective on Moral Objectivity”,, March 3, 2017. Accessed June 27, 2020.

[64] Ibid

[65] Syfret, “Sunny nihilism: ‘Since discovering I’m worthless my life has felt precious’”. The Guardian. December 17, 2019. Accessed June 25, 2020.

[66] Bawden & Robinson, “The dark side of information: overload, anxiety and other paradoxes and pathologies“, Journal of Information Science, Vol 35. No. 2, November 21, 2008. Accessed July 2, 2020.

[67] See note 62.

Chapman, “You’ve got nihilism wrong”,, date unknown. Accessed June 25, 2020.

[68] Rael, “Being & vibration”, Millichap books, August 17, 2015. ISBN-10: 1937462307

[69] See 57.

[70] Mineo, “Harvard study, almost 80 years old, has proved embracing community helps us live longer, and be happer”, The Harvard Gazette, April 11, 2017. Accessed June 25, 2020.

[71] Frankl, “The Will to Meaning: Foundations and Applications of Logotherapy”, Plume, June 24, 2014, ISBN-10: 9780142181263

[72] Ackerman, “What is Positive Psychology & Why is It Important?”,, April 16, 2020. Accessed June 27, 2020.

[73] Oppland, “8 Ways to Create Flow According to Mihaly Csikszentmihaly”,, April 28, 2020. Accessed June 27, 2020.

[74] Quinn, “Alice Herz-Sommer: pianist and oldest known Holocaust survivor dies aged 110”, The Guardian, February 23, 2014. Accessed June 27, 2020.

[75] See:

[76] See notes 29, 57, 70, 71, 72 and 73.

[77] Kvalnes, “Moral Reasoning at Work”, Palgrave Macmillan, October 23, 2015. ISBN-10: 1137532599

[78] Jowett and O‘Donnell, “Propaganda & Persuasion”, Sage publications, 7th edition, September 27, 2018. ISBN-10: 1506371345

[79] Anderson and Rainie, “The positives of digital life”,, July 3, 2018. Accessed June 25, 2020.

[80] See note 66.

[81] Hemp, “Death by Information Overload”, The Harvard Business Review, September 2009. Accessed June 25, 2020.

[82] See the Harvard study often referred to as the ‘Harvard Happiness Study’ (Study on Adult Development): and a good overview of Positive Psychology on

[83] Abramson, “What is Metamodernism?”, Huffpost, January 9, 2017. Accessed June 27, 2020.

[84] García-Capilla, “From Postmodern Ethics to the New Ethics of the Me Generation: The Transition from Mass Media to the Internet, Comunicacion Y Sociedad Vol. XXV, Num. 1, 2012. Accessed June 25, 2020.

[85] Ibid.

[86] See note 84.

[87] Foroohar, “How big tech is dragging us towards the next big financial crash”, The Guardian, November 8, 2019. Accessed June 27, 2020.

[88] Ibid.

[89] Sivarajah et al, “Critical analysis of Big Data challenges and Analytical Methods”, Journal of Business Research, Vol. 70, January, 2017. Accessed July 3, 2020.

Ioannidis, “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False”, PlOS Medicine, August 30, 2005. Accessed July 3, 2020.

Courtney et al, “Deciding How to Decide”, Harvard Business Review, November 2013. Accessed July 3, 2020.

[90] Bailey, “How bad is the problem of data misuse in finance research papers?”, Mathematical Investor, January 1, 2019. Accessed June 27, 2020.

[91] Ibid.

[92] Ernest, “The Ethics of Mathematics: Is Mathematics Harmful?”, The Philosophy of Mathematics Education Today, December 25, 2018. ISBN-10: 3030085325

[93] Wilmott, “The Use, Misuse and Abuse of Mathematics in Finance”, Philosophical Transactions: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, Vol. 358, January, 2000. Accessed June 27, 2020.

[94]Finance Watch, “Making Finance Serve Nature”, Finance Watch, May 2019. Accessed June 27, 2020.

[95] Ibid.

[96] West, “Money Mathematics: Examining Ethics Education in Quantitative Finance”, Journal of Business Ethics Education 9 special issue, 2012. Accessed June 27, 2020.

[97] Heilperin, “Economic Nationalism: From Mercantilism to World War II”,, November 18, 2019. Accessed June 28, 2020.

[98] Chandler Jr., “Scale and Scope: The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism”, The Belknap Press, March 15, 1994. ISBN-10: 0674789954

[99] Dalrymple, “The East India Company: The original corporate raiders”, The Guardian, March 4, 2015. Accessed June 28, 2020.

[100] See note 21.

[101] Fama, “Agency Problems and the Theory of the Firm”, Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 88, April, 1980. Accessed June 28, 2020.

Love, “Opportunism, Hold-Up, and the (Contractual) Theory of the Firm”, Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics”, Vol 166, no. 3, September, 2010. Accessed June 27, 2020.

[102] Donaldson and Preston, “The Stakeholder Theory of the Corporation: Concepts, Evidence and Implications”, The Academy of Management Review, Vol. 20, No. 1, January, 1995. Accessed June 28, 2020.

[103] Muchlinski, “The Changing Face of Transnational Business Governance: Private Corporate Law Liability and Accountability of Transnational Groups in a Post-Financial Crisis World”, Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies, Vol. 18, no. 2, 2011. Accessed June 28, 2020.

[104] Williamson, “The Economics of Governance”, The American Economic View, Vol 95, no. 2, January 7, 2005. Accessed June 28, 2020.

[105] Stark, “What’s the Matter with Business Ethics?”, Harvard Business Review, June, 1993. Accessed June 28, 2020.

[106] Kapstein, “The Corporate Ethics Crusade”, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 80, no. 5. September, 2001. Accessed June 28, 2020.

[107] Young, Moon et al, “The UK Corporate Social Responsibility Industry: A Phenomenlogical Approach”, International Center for Corporate Social Responsibility ISSN 1479-5124, Nottingham University. Accessed June 28, 2020.

Further for a type of reporting standard see

[108] Berg and Gunnthorsson, “The Purpose of CSR Reporting: From targeted stakeholder communication to holistic corporate branding”, CBS (Handelshöjskolen I Köbenhavn) Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy, September, 2005.

[109] Dell, “Breaking Organization Silos: Removing Barriers to Exceptional Performance”, JournalAWWA, June, 2005. Accessed June 28, 2020.

[110] Westskog, “Why Quota Trade Should be Restricted: The arguments behind the Eu’s position on emissions Trading”, Working Paper ISSN:0804-452x, University of Oslo, 2001. Accessed June 28, 2020.

[111] Banks, “New technique to tackle nuclear waste”, Physics World, February 20, 2009. Accessed June 28, 2020.

[112] See note 29.

[113] Hoffman, “The Next Phase of Business Sustainability”, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Spring 2018. Accessed June 30, 2020.

[114] Ibid.

[115] For descriptions of anxiety disorders see Barlow & Ellard, “Anxiety and related disorders”, Noba textbook series, DEF publishers, 2020. Accessed June 29, 2020.

For a contrasting explanation of ‘Catastrophic Anxiety” see the work referred to in note 23.

[116] Ciampi, “Existential Angst”, Psychology Today, May 22, 2020. Accessed June 29, 2020.

[117] Abebe, “The Golden Age of Existential Dread”, The New York Times Magazine, October 3, 2017. Accessed June 29, 2020.

[118] Ibid.

[119] Davidson, “Four Socially Acceptable Addictions”,, May 14, 2015. Accessed June 29, 2020.

[120] Baker & Sperry, “History of Psychology”, In R. Biswas-Diener & E. Diener (Eds),  The University of Akron, Noba textbook series, DEF publishers, 2020. Accessed June 29, 2020

[121] WA World Services Organization (author), “Workaholics Anonymous Book of Recovery”, 2009. ISBN-10: 0977194302

[122] Fishkin, Firefighter and Paramedic Burnout: The Survival Guide – The Role You Play”, Parkhurst Brothers Publishers Inc. February 1, 2016. ISBN-10: 1624910793

[123] Fishkin, “American Dream, American Burnout: How to cope when it all gets too much”, February 1, 2016. ISBN-10: 1624910777

[124] Ibid.

[125] Cummins, “Yes, you really can work yourself to death”, Popular Science, October 19, 2018. Accessed June 28, 2020.

[126] Pfeffer, “Dying for a Paycheck”, Harperbusiness, March 20, 2018. ISBN-10: 0062800922. See:

[127] Humphreys, “Have you a moral duty to care for others?”, The Irish Times, June 13, 2014. Accessed June 28, 2020.

[128] Salehi, Saeidinia et al, “Business Ethics”, International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, Vol. 2, no1. ISSN: 2250-3153, January, 2012. Accessed June 28, 2020.

[129] Goel and Ramanathan, “Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility – Is there a dividing line?”, Procedia Economics and Finance, volume 11, 2014. Accessed June 28, 2020.

[130] See note 50

[131] See notes 3 and 4.

[132] Picard, “The Many Meanings of Mediation: A Sociological Study of Mediation in Canada”, Carleton University, Ottawa Canada, August 2000. Accessed June 28, 2020.

[133] See ibid, 134, 135, 139, 140, 142.

[134] Knickle et al, “Beyond Winning: mediation, conflict resolution, and non-rational sources of conflict in the ICU”, Critical Care, London, 16(3), June 19, 2012. Accessed June 28, 2020.

[135] Henry, “Mediation as a Dark Art: A Mediator’s Message to Parties Seeking to Settle the Difficult Case”, Business Law Today, March 2014. Accessed June 28, 2020.

[136] Juncadella, “What is the impact of the Nonviolent communication model on the development of empathy? Overview of research and outcomes”, University of Sheffield, October 2013. Accessed June 28, 2020.

[137] Mehl-Madrona, “Introducing Healing Circles and Talking Circles into Primary Care”, The Permamente Journal, Vol. 18 (2), 2014. Accessed June 28, 2020.

[138] See note 135.

[139] Susskind, “Arbitration vs. Mediation: The Definition of Mediation as a Problem Solving Process”, Harvard Law School – Program on Negotiation,, June 15, 2020. Accessed June 28, 2020.

[140] Field, “Neutrality and Power: Myths and Reality”, ADR Bulletin Vol3, no1, May, 2000. Accessed June 29, 2020.

[141] Initiative Mediaton Support Deutschland (author), Federal Foreign Office Germany & Initiative Mediation, February 2017. Accessed June 29, 2020.

[142] Douglas, “NAUTRALITY IN MEDIATION: A STUDY OF MEDIATOR PERCEPTIONS”, Queensland University of Technology Law and Justice Journal, 2008. Accessed June 30, 2020.

[143] See note 132.

[144] See note 141

[145] Indvik, “Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast: What SEAL and DELTA Force Operators can teach us about management”, Linkedin, November 25, 2015. Accessed June 30, 2020.

See also note 89.

[146] May, “Steps of the Ethical Decision-Making Process”, International Center for Ethics in Business, University of Kansas Office of Research, Ethics Education in Science and Engineering, date unknown. Accessed June 28, 2020.

[147] See note 3 and 4 and 113.

[148] Noce et al, “Clarifying the Theoretical Underpinnings of Mediation: Implications for Practice and Policy”, Scholarly Commons at Hofstra Law, 3 Pepp. Disp. Resol. L.J. 39, 2002. Accessed June 30, 2020.

[149] Boserup, “Advanced techniques and dilemmas in mediation – the issue of autonomy and social control in particular”,, date unknown. Accessed June 30, 2020.

[150] Susskind, “Arbitration vs Mediation: The Definition of Mediation as A Problem Solving Process”, Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation, June 15, 2020. Accessed June 30, 2020.

[151] Wall & Dunne, “Mediation Research: A Current Review”, Negotiation Journal, Wiley Online Library, April 10, 2012. Accessed June 30, 2020.

[152] See note 148.

[153] PON staff (author), “What Makes a Good Mediator?”, Harvard Law School, Program on Negotiation, June 23, 2020. Accessed June 30, 2020.

[154] Quoting LeShan where he quotes Arthur Koestler, “The Trail of the Dinosaur”, Macmillan, 1956. P. 148

[155] Abramson, “What is Metamodernism?”, Huffpost, January 9, 2017. Accessed June 27, 2020.

[156] See the work of Lewis Mehl-Madrona M.D. Ph.D. as referred to in note 57.

[157] See note 70.

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