Systems practice

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 365–380

The culpabliss error: A calculus of ethics for a systemic world

  • Stafford Beer
Memorandum Marking His Seventieth Birthday

DOI: 10.1007/BF02557886

Cite this article as:
Beer, S. Systems Practice (1997) 10: 365. doi:10.1007/BF02557886


This paper examines the inadequacy of managerial models to manage our world, especially in ethical matters. It starts by illustrating the reductionistic nature of these models. They gradually take the place of the real world in our minds and become a surrogate world. While this surrogate world seems to perform perfectly well, the real world is far out of control. Next the paper states that understanding and, therefore, models are timeless. The article explains how ancient misconceptions about change find their correspondence in modern misconceptions about ethical decisions. This is the culpabliss error. The author finally argues that the ethical relationships between a decision or action and its consequences must be dealt with in a cybernetic way.

Key Words

ethics cybernetics models reductionism justice management 

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stafford Beer
    • 1
  1. 1.TorontoCanada

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