Of Dice and Men

what matters more: gender parity or carbon footprint?

Posted on May 18, 2017

Of Dice and Men

God is not supposed to play dice, men (and women) are. But are we also allowed to play for transcendental stakes? Suppose we have different opinions on the inscrutability of evidence. Somebody says we can never access somebody’s mind and check how evidence was acquired, we claim that yes, we can. We throw dice and win. Does our dice partner with different view have to accept our opinion? Or suppose that somebody claims that God does not exist. Will rolling dice command sufficient authority to make him or her confirm the view that She (or He) exists? The same question can be put at stake when we argue about carbon footprint, evolutionary theories, black holes, hierarchies of values. Does a continuous negotiation and renegotiation of all values resemble a court of law or a Las Vegas casino? Can a result of a game of dice establish a truer truth, a higher moral ground, a more beautiful experience?

Ten years ago I was invited to lecture on globalization and its discontents for a group of young women groomed to become Human Resource Managers in a multinational company, which recruited employees all over the world. My efforts were greeted with a moral approval of those who knew about them – feminist countdown before breaking glass ceilings and glass labyrinths had already started. It has brought us female prime ministers, university presidents and chief executive officers. Ten years later an ecological activist questioned environmental policies of this corporation and lobbied for academic boycott. Collecting evidence of academic wrong-doing, he quoted links and bonds connecting academic communities to business companies. He had accused my university of rubbing shoulders with the enemies of a sustainable future. Have I compromised my cognitive autonomy, have I threatened my research liberties when mentoring young upwardly mobile women inside the corporate bureaucracy?  And what should I do if I want to advance not only the cause of women in professional organizations but also a cause of our planet in the hands of angry riders of Anthropocene?

Dice won’t help. But neither will political correctness. We have to make real choices and suffer real consequences. What matters more: gender parity or carbon footprint?

Rotterdam, May 16, 2017