Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics

, Volume 29, Issue 5, pp 723–735 | Cite as

Hans Jonas, Brave New World, and Utopian Business Ethics



This essay explores ways a shift in focus from material to experiential consumption might address the criticisms of industrialization made by Hans Jonas and Aldous Huxley. Hans Jonas argued that the extent to which the market economy drives humans to manufacture material goods is causing us to produce pollution at levels that will make humans go extinct. He concluded we will need to be such cuts in material production that future generations will sacrifice much happiness. Huxley on the other hand, criticized industrialization because it focuses consumers on material goods and away from more personally enriching experiences. Yet, research in the business scholarship indicates experiences make consumers happier than material items, and that consumers will spend money for this utility. This suggests that a reduction in pollution may be obtainable without sacrifice by altering the extent to which the economy markets experiential goods in contrast to material items.


Happiness History Aldous Huxley Industrialization Hans Jonas Utopia 



I would like to thank Michael Boylan, Joseph Coombs, Leigh Hafrey, Karen Moustafa Leonard, and Dimitry Ruban for giving me feedback on earlier versions of this paper. I would also like to thank Cassie Mogilner and Jennifer Aaker for permission to use their photograph of their lemonade stand experiment.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

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