In the current transition to the Anthropocene, the earth will be dominated from now on by human nature rather than nature. This new condition requires a transition to a new worldview and a corresponding new rational justification of morality, which includes the notion of sustainability. It is the main objective of this paper to suggest an encompassing moral framework by deriving a new common denominator for ‘human nature’. The resulting framework is based on the integration of earlier philosophical attempts made by the church (biblical revelation), Enlightenment (Kant) and post-modernity (Nietzsche). It is understood that these earlier attempts partly failed as they subsequently dealt with relevant, but one-sided aspects of a more overarching pattern of human nature. This pattern, to be presented here, is based on philosophical and psychological insights and confirmed by (meta-) historical and cultural findings and by the empirical results of a social survey.
From this combined approach a twofold, final and general aim for societal development emerges: sustainability and consciousness development. Herein, sustainability appears as a process of maintaining balance between the essential qualities of human nature, between the physical and the meta- physical qualities and between the individual-private and the collective-public qualities. This view on human nature and human dignity is inspired on the Aristotelian doctrine of the mean and indeed can be seen as integrating different earlier ethical frameworks. The virtue ethical model can ultimately vindicate and differentiate policy objectives and legitimate specific policies to achieve them. It qualifies our materialist and individualist culture as being one-sided and substantiates negative ethical judgements based thereof. As it encompasses all the earlier experiences and subsequent lessons of western civilization, the model could at least serve as a moral compass to find our ways in the Anthropocene.