Ideals and Principles of Common Wellbeing under Social and Humanistic Paradigm


We attempt to specify ideals and principles of common wellbeing: saving economy, political attendance, full employment, education, equitable distribution. As a part of the study we have formulated the concept of so-called "other" society under the social-humanistic paradigm. As it was mentioned earlier, social systems can be described as open-end ones, which implies their constant interaction with environment expressed via matter, energy, and information exchange. Because of that, the functional and developmental regulations are characterized by the presence of constant alteration as well, which stipulates the high complexity of structuring valid prognoses. Subject vs. object feedback determines special peculiarities of social prognosis, namely, the ones that are capable of either self-fulfillment of self-destruction of prognostic model. In other words, the predicted future influences the actual future. In the conditions of the increasing instability and dynamics of social processes especially urgent is the problem of adequacy of innovative model. The specific feature of modern innovative processes is the fact that any information about the features of their occurrence is extremely fast becoming obsolete that, in turn, leads to the increase the gap between reality and model.

Keywords: Distributionsocietywellbeing


The problem of "other" society is traditional. It is a classical subject of social thought of the progressivist direction and the central plot of a social utopia. Nowadays designing the "other" society is caused by the same factors as in the past: reality criticism, striving to overcome its contradictions, searching crisis recovery and existence of constructive idea of new social, and now a global order. Time has introduced the concept of social dynamics into the modern designing of society renovation where the new social order is established as well as the general progressivist attitudes of this school. The theories of "other" society have apprehended the concept of the intrasystem high-quality changes and the restructurings covering all areas of life – economy, culture positions. Such opinion is shared by K. Boulding (1965), D. Bell (1973), and H.Kahn (1982).

Theorists of the "other" society interpret the new order formation as evolutionary, each new society originates as otherness of the previous public formation. This transformation is considered as a turning point (Toffler, 1987), a shift after which the new civilization appears. The shift is seen in one of those public processes or the phenomena which are really transformed (for example, when new communication devices emerge). They change some spheres of society life. Then the ideas of this transformation are spread to all society and gives it the name.


The research is carried out by using the method of the comparative analysis supported by dialectic and competency-based approaches.

Ideals and principles of common wellbeing

Developing a new society takes the whole era in the neoliberalism evolution, having inherited a classical liberal tradition, i.e. the idea of commonwealth as a goal of society and policy. During this period all visions of welfare of society and its citizens, of human rights and the constitutional state, of collective and various personal security (a territorial sovereignty, personal integrity, warranties of economic and other activity, property, etc.) were concentrated in it. Ideas about supreme public political goal, that is prosperity in all its meanings, firstly financial as well as living together, and partly in social communication were constantly the key ideas of the public welfare concept of general welfare. Post-crisis transformations lie in a specification of ideals of general welfare, it allows to overcome the crisis, and build the new modern theory of general welfare.

The ability of society to implement the idea of wellbeing always served as a criterion of social evolution. Building new society caused by any development factor, is not limited to subordinating public process of this factor implementation. It eventually serves to life of happiness and prosperity performing for most of theorists though its interpretations can vary from emphases on material well-being up to its limitation for the blossoming of culture, humanistic values, etc.

Theorists of renewals put a challenge about the preferable good, as in the concept of general welfare there are contradictions: one of the particular goods can be preferable or incompatible with others at every moment. This problem was sharply aggravated by a modern situation, especially ecological. So, technological-manufacturing growth interferes with the environmental living conditions, safety concerns limit opportunities of development, etc. The choice situation is depicted in renovation theories. Each of them anyway offers the option of problem solution.

Implementation of the state of general welfare was for social and political philosophy something greater, than material welfare of citizens and society. It was the implementation of ideals of the social good, that is equality, as wellbeing had to be general, social justice, completeness of social and other rights, and, therefore, poverty liquidation, a full employment.

When the disappointment occurred after the economic recession having begun in the mid-seventies, it was reflected in the theories of public updating. Thus, there was an idea of not prospering, but just "acceptable" society, less expansive, that is more humane, tolerant and respecting a person, nature, social surrounding, so-called "tolerant society of moderate growth". The concept of humanistic society of spiritual renewal is formed. Not "rich" society, but humanistic becomes a reference point of new design. There is M. Bookchin's "post-scany" society (Bookchin, 1974), and also post-civilized, post-economic, pure human, post-human, Faust's, post-Faust's, Prometheus's, post-Prometheus's, favorable and pure religious (neo-deistic) societies. The infinite scale of "societies" is urged to emphasize the pluralistic width of ideas of the future and abundance of development opportunities, has revealed extreme uncertainty of renewal projects. But crisis of the concept of prosperity does not mean a refusal of idea of general welfare at all. In its two-thousand-year history there were many falls and rises, and now the idea of the prospering society is not removed as the development goal. It was transformed to more conservative form of the socio-political project.The universal declaration of human rights is the first document in the history of mankind, in which it was declared the intention of the state to respect and insure rights and liberty of a person.

Today the equality in poverty in society which traditionally was not inclined to social distinctions creates a solid social basis for the authoritarian regime strengthened by nationalist populism. As a result, social and political polarization of the Russian society goes deep, income inequality grows gaining polarizing character and dividing society into the poor and the rich. Inflationary tendencies even more deepen a social inequality, increasing already considerable part of the poor and needy, worsening their distress.

Process of the accelerated social stratification covers the Russian society unevenly, more and more sharply the top layers are separated from the mass layers concentrating on a poverty pole. The overlapping processes of population impoverishment and the growing social stratification lead to the fact that some become poorer, and others become richer, creating hypertrophied forms of a social inequality. It should be noted that the provided figures is a reflection within a legal segment of economy. Such ratio is fraught with socio-political shocks, but not the social world. The results of the sociological research confirm that in mass consciousness the idea is created: the wealth is gained nowadays by many individuals and groups unfairly.

In modern Russian society the middle class as it is understood in the western societies, is in a germinal state. If the process of reforming Russia directs to the favorable course, then owing to changes in economic structure the middle class will absorb more and more former social groups and classes and will become an important social force. Today it is hard to say whether they will become the guarantor of civil society development (as in the West), as today "new Russians" are focused not on manufacturing, but on redistributing the benefits. This circumstance can be decisive for the future of the country.

Harmony of public life in civil society is defined by implementation of idea of the good. J. Habermas (1971) enters new criterion in ethics of benevolence, empathy, intuition or attentiveness, it is the so-called legitimate moral approach supplying ideas about justice in discourse ethics. He is sought for the principle uniting the good and justice. J. Habermas does not accept narrow meaning of justice which reducing to the honest and equal treatment to people. Here justice drops to the status of a certain principle (the equal rights), and then is supplemented with the second principle - benevolence, and both of them are thought derivative of higher principle - equal respect for integrity and dignity of any personality. According to J. Habermas, such approach cannot succeed, as the meaning of the personality is blur in it."The equal respect for any personality in general as to the subject capable to act independently, means the equal treatment; however the equal respect for any personality as to the identity having become that during the life history means absolutely other, than the equal treatment: instead protecting a person, here is referred to the support him/her as a self-actualizing creature " (Habermas, 1971).

The respect for integrity of the personality does not mean jealousies for others' well-being. The principle of benevolence derived from the principle of equal respect refers only to individuals, but neither to the general wellbeing nor to sense of community. In the strict sense of justice, questions of the good should be arisen as something secondary. In this way justice excludes a susceptibility to each individual's features, to reasons concerning wellbeing of community and to cares of "specific another". Justice is transferred to the plan of negative liberty and legal rights of people, that is all (Kvesko, 2015).

According to J. Habermas (1971), these interpretations lose the value of communicative and the intersubjective messages of discourse ethics. Discussion is the reflexive form of communicative interaction comprising something bigger than the equal treatment with parties concerned. An analytical starting point in discourse ethics is not the concept of sovereign, integrated identity, deprived of communications, but more intersubjective communicative infrastructure of routine public life. Individuals act inside the relations of mutual recognition in which they intersubjectively find and approve the identity and the freedom.

In the dialogue each participant states views and needs and assumes ideal characters in practical public discussion. In the situation the understanding of others' needs is reached through the moral judgments, but not just through empathy. Exactly here presence of the general is tested and potentially approved to distinction. J. Habermas studies these problems, using concepts of identity and solidarity, showing that the theory of justice does not need the additional ethical theory as "substantial" measurement is "formally" presented here..

Habermas (1971) claims that the concept supplementing justice is not benevolence, empathy, intuition or attention to people around, but solidarity. The justice and solidarity are not two separate moral principles, but two parts of the same. A person acquires identity by means of communicative processes of socialization in the context of a linguistic community and in intersubjective joint life world. She receives individual identity only as the member of a collective and at the same time as if it acquires group identity: Further individualization is made as the life world becomes more differentiated and the individual gets involved in more and more chambray network of numerous and multifeatured interdependences. And extreme vulnerability of individual and collective identities originates from that the individual forms the internal kernel only inasmuch as s/he at the same time outwardly expresses her/himself in communicatively made interpersonal relations. Moral systems are built as shelter for vulnerable identities".

As discourses represent a reflexive form of the action focused on understanding, their claim is to give moral compensation to vulnerable and therefore, in the depth of themselves, to weak individuals. It can be implemented by those mediated interaction languages to which those socialized individuals are obliged to the vulnerability. J. Habermas considers that pragmatical properties of a discourse allow to carry out the forming of specific will where everyone's interests are taken into account without destroying social communications connecting each individual with the others. Individuals cannot keep their identity in isolation. The integrity of an individual cannot be provided without integrity of the intersubjective joint life world as it makes possible general interpersonal relations and the relations of mutual recognition. According to J.L. Cohen (1983), J. Habermas (1971) names it as "dual aspect of a moral phenomenon". Moral protection means for individual identity cannot protect the integrity of individuals, if they do not protect vital relations network of mutual recognition in which individuals can stabilize their fragile identities only mutually (reciprocally) and at the same time with the identity of the group.

Actually J. Habermas considers that ethics has two tasks: to provide immunity to the socialized individuals, demanding much of the equal address to them and respect for everyone's strong points and to protect the intersubjective relations of mutual recognition, demanding much of solidarity of individuals as members of society they have been socialized in. Thus solidarity is rooted in experience of mutual responsibility for each other as associates share the general interest in integrity of the life context. According tothe theory of communicative action the care of wellbeing of others and the general wellbeing are closely connected through the concept of identity. Identity of groups and certain individuals is reproduced by saving the balance in mutual recognition. Solidarity has to be the concept supplementing justice. The procedural principles of the justice understood as a respect for personalities and the equal treatment to partners in dialogue needs solidarity as in "other" as these are two parts of the same.

J. Habermas (1971) does not distinguish morality and the principle of justice, discourse ethics serves both that, and another. In this context justice means equal liberty of all certain and self-defined individuals, and legitimate norms are those that are accepted by all concerned participants of the process of discussion. Thus solidarity means care of the members of society, gathered in one life world, of the integrity of their general identity, as well as the identity of individuals and even groups. Legitimate norms cannot protect one, without protecting another. They cannot protect the equal rights and individual's liberty without protecting wellbeing of his/her fellow citizens and all community s/he belongs to.

Thereby discourse ethics assumes both an autonomy and integrity of individuals, and their initial absorption in an intersubjective way of life. The content of reflections concerning the justice of norms originates from the fact that life forms have joint character and contact with each other. This is a source of the hidden communication between justice and general welfare. Ideas about the ability to generalize interests or to reach compromises assume considering "structural" aspects of "good life" which can have the general character according to communicative socialization and which are inherent all ways of life, and this is a requirement to respect and preserve the integrity of individual and collective identity.

Structural measurement of the good, immanent to discourse ethics, gives a criterion which the principle of a universalization should rely on in the act: formulating and considering the needs for identity of all involved norms of individuals and groups. In addition to establishing the criteria of honesty and respect for the abstract rights of abstract people the discourse mentally reproduce those intersubjective communicative achievements (mutual recognition) which strengthen and recreate key components of individual and group identities.

Structural concept of the good which is entered here operationally, therefore may have such definition: the ban is placed on an institutionalization of any norm causing damage to the integrity of the individuals and groups identities wishing to take part in discussion and adhering to the principles of a symmetric reciprocity. As the ideas of needs and care for identity are introduced into discussion, dialogue is governed by the principles of respect for the abstract and set by a situation personality properties, and for a minimum of the solidarity necessary for maintaining individual and group identity.

This interpretation of the good deprives the causes of accusation in formalism, without destroying the deontological status of discourse ethics at the same time. Respect for an opportunity of everyone to formulate own model of good life and solidarity of those who follow various lifestyles, but for all that belong to the same or to the partially coinciding living worlds and share the key moments of political collective identity -– such respect and such solidarity are not prone to a certain model of the good, however are appropriate in the context of "facts of life". They do not mean the existence of the hidden particular idea of the good that would undermine the deontological nature of discourse ethics.


Practice provides respect both to individualization, and to an intersubjective community of lifestyles. Each individual should have an opportunity to participate in solidary process of dialogue which assumes and potentially strengthens solidarity. As the position of another is considered in it, it is open to needs of another for finding its own identity. Quality of shared living should be measured as a degree of solidarity and wellbeing which it provides, as well as the interests (need for identity) of every individual come into account within the general interest.

The discussion about structural aspects of the good immanent in discourse ethics nevertheless is based on the distinction between correct and good, universal (universalized) and special, questions of justice and problems, connected with self-actualization of individuals. Individual interpretation of own needs can be put for discussion; there is an opportunity to open such their aspects which can become a content of general norm. However it is stayed the aspects of ideas about good, life forms which cannot be generalized.

If we draw a boundary line between "correct" and "good", the last will pose the estimated questions escaping the logic of discussion as they assume such distinctions concerning which it is impossible to obtain consensus for judging by discourse. These components of individual and group identity form the area inaccessible to discourse ethics. Here the examples of behavior, value and the components of individuals and groups identities deserving recognition as the sphere of the personal preference, differing from that where provisions of law should be applied.

Discourse ethics do not specify in the affirmatively what should be considered as a good life, but via negation explains what is defective life. However forms of life, identity can conflict with pleas for justice. And when requirements of self-actualization face pleas for justice, the reaction occurs – to declare what it should be moved aside the identity components and requirements which create a contradictory situation. The concept of justice is challenged itself.

Discourses represent more strict form of communication, than daily communicative practice. They are reflexive, complied with the principles of the argumentative speech and are beyond special group customs, without destroying social unity at the same time. The principle of solidarity loses the ethnocentric feature when it becomes a part of the universal theory of justice and is creating in the context of idea of will formation by means of discourse. Arguments dominate the special vital worlds. The discourse generalizes, abstracts and expands original assumptions of contextually connected communicative act, entering into it the competent subjects which are beyond the provincial limits of their own personal way of life (Kvesko, 2015).

It is a discourse ethics that represents the basis for giving legitimacy to distinctions and requirements of solidarity: as differentiation of interests and valuable orientations grow in modern society, the morally justified norms, controlling the range of individual action in the interests of the whole, become more and more generalized and abstract.

The respect for collective identity of another has to take the tolerance form. We cannot compare this respect with solidarity of those who have general components of collective identity and the general norms. Collective identity is capable to claim group and at the same time to cultivate solidarity of the group identity building civil society.


According to the inner personal identity, people have mind and will, they are free to behave. In this regard, two aspects of freedom are allocated: inner and external freedom. Hence, we consider justice as legal justice, i.e. abide requirements of a legal equality principle in the respective spheres and relations of social life, but not special, illegal justice. Justice is everywhere in essence, it can always be only legal.

This principle keeps universal value for all historical types and systems of the law in force, despite all of their differences and variety of concrete-historical forms of displaying and functioning the formal equality principles in various social systems, therefore, justice is as an overall and equal freedom) The last ones are actually legal only to some degree as they have principle of formal equality and formal liberty.

The social structure becomes stable, balanced and able to be self-organized not otherwise than on the basis of norm (or system of norms) which it objectively develops for itself during all course of the development.


Research goes within the solution of questions of social policy.


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17 January 2017

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Kornienko,  . A., Kvesko, S. B., Kornienko, A. A., Kabanova, N. N., & Nikitina, Y. A. (2017). Ideals and Principles of Common Wellbeing under Social and Humanistic Paradigm. In F. Casati, G. А. Barysheva, & W. Krieger (Eds.), Lifelong Wellbeing in the World - WELLSO 2016, vol 19. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 362-369). Future Academy.