‘Service above self’: learning from Rotary

Brian Hubbell speaking at MDI Rotary lunchFounded on the understanding that businesses prosper when they ethically support each other and give back to their communities with ‘service above self’, Rotary models the success and ideals of local enlightened self-interest.

After being invited to speak at the MDI Rotary lunch this past Wednesday, I was struck by how the Rotary’s own “four-way test” for decision-making effectively parallels John Rawls‘ theories of public reason and overlapping consensus, both of which underpin conventional liberal philosophy.

In essence, as an ethical criterion of speech and action, the test asks:

  • Is it true?
  • Is it fair?
  • Does it build goodwill?
  • Is it beneficial to all?

To me this seems a remarkably good test for public policy decisions as well.