Antonio Casado da Rocha


Professor Antonio Casado da Rocha is a Research Fellow at the IAS-Center for Life, Mind, and Society, in the Department of Philosophy of Values and Social Anthropology, at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU). Here is a link to Antonio’s website.

Regarding the aims of this workshop, Professor Cadado da Rocha asks: “I am wondering how you could apply your understanding of interaction dynamics to the way the micro (individual, dyadic) meso (groups, organizational) or macro (societies, international) level of political/cultural identities affect each other?” Also, “how do you see ethical factors influencing those dynamics?

Presentation title: Crisis Transformation Through Living Codes Of Ethics

Abstract: The current economic crisis raises issues for any scientific discipline: we don’t know enough to prevent or overcome them. But all financial crisis are at root crisis of trust, and trust is linked with the dynamics of social cognition. Having trust in someone means having expectations about his or her behavior; for those expectations to be reasonable, one has to understand the motivations of the other, his or her values. So lack of trust is not only a problem for the economy; it is critical also in politics and healthcare, and it involves ethical issues.

Crises decrease tolerance towards acts that are deemed unethical (Innerarity 2013). All over Europe, political systems are also in crisis: citizens have more means to criticize and question the government, which cannot rely as much as before on ideology to justify its activity. As a result, politics has become more personal than ideological, and moral traits such as charisma or virtue have increased their relevance in public discourse. How decisions are made has become more important, and consensus and agreement are increasingly valued by citizens. Not everything can be solved by the law or other forms of state action, but there are issues that have to be governed or tackled collectively. As an hypothesis, it could be said that more liquid and fast our societies are, the more receptive they become to ethics-based interventions as distinct from, but not opposed, purely legal ones.


Methodologically, our work is related to the recent surge of empirically based work in applied ethics, a field that continues to flourish notwithstanding ongoing battles between moral philosophers and social scientists. Drawing from bioethics and business ethics literature, we aim to identify a cluster of socio-ethical factors that contributed to the present economic crisis in specific locations. For that purpose, the paper introduces a new tool (the VaPBi inventory or questionnaire) that can be used in empirical ethics research elsewhere. Politics and healthcare are communicative spaces marked by struggle and conflict, but also by innovation and value creation. In a context of crisis, in which there are acts that will not be tolerated, ethics codes and committees are tools for organizations to comply with standards of acceptable behavior. They attempt to foster attitudes and dispositions to act in a given way; their function is to raise sensitivity towards certain issues and help building a shared moral identity. While ethics codes tend to focus on the positive, stressing values and principles, empirical ethics helps us to openly discuss the negative aspects or clinical practice, such as uncertainty, fallibility, conflict, moral distress, frustration, and burnout (Førde 2012). But ethics codes are dead if they are not enacted in everyday life. That is why other authors are working on “living codes of ethics”, defined as the “cognitive, affective, and behavioral manifestation of an ethical organizational identity” (Verbos et al. 2007).


This paper presents preliminary work-in-progress for a research project in which we aim to promote autonomy in communities through integration of technology, narratives, and the subjective experience of illness. It aims to explore and discuss in a collaborative way the cognitive and communicative aspects of everyday situations, away from the extreme cases of extreme disability or ideal communicative communities, such as conflicts of value in healthcare, or conflicts of interest in politics. After describing the VaPBi inventory, it discusses some examples of how we can use it to track or describe the living code of an organization. Three ongoing research samples will be briefly described: preparatory work prior to an intervention in a hospital, analysis of ethics code after its enactment, and analysis of fieldwork qualitative data in a city hit by the economic crisis. The discussion will cover themes such as time management, social networks, the role of language and culture, or social resilience, amongst others.

Professor Antonio Casado da Rocha can be contacted by this email address: