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Your post reads a bit contradictory. The only way we can all be responsible for negative externalities is if we each individually choose to be responsible, or if lawmakers force us all to be responsible. I honestly don't know what your view on this subject is, because you seem to be deriding any possible solution to the problem of negative externalities.

Well, one example would be if you are CEO of a car manufacturer. Your engineers design two catalytic converters, one that meets all government regulations/requirements, and another that does substantially better, but reduces horsepower and drivability significantly.

If you are environmentally conscious and decide to standardize all your cars on the cleaner catalytic converter, and consumers react poorly and sales suffer, you aren't serving your shareholders. It's not a problem your company can or should solve, you are part of a shared organizations and your ownership doesn't trump your shareholders.

Instead you should take your share of the profits and your massive paycheck and work to get cleaner and more intelligent exhaust standards put into law, so that all new cleaner catalytic converters are as clean as you think they should be. Or find alternative and better ways to reduce emissions.

But you can't steal profits from your shareholders to fit your own agenda.

But in practice, what we get is VW.

It is "contra-survival" to poison the air. You cannot breath profits.

The world is bubble-shaped, and we are all trapped together sandwiched between hard vacuum and molten rock.

Poisoning in the short-term to make money to make laws to stop poisoning in the long-term is a poor strategy, and I think we as sentient human beings can do better.

"Never let ideological purity interfere with effective action."

VW's approach clearly wasn't business optimal, given it almost bankrupted them.

I'm suggesting that overemphasis on the "profit motive" affected the strategic judgement of the VW corporation as a whole.

Whether your metric for this disaster is cash or clean air I think the proximate cause was profit-seeking to the exclusion of other values.

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