This is the text of the lecture given by Mark Burton, recipient of the 2013 British Psychological Society award for promoting equality of opportunity, at the BPS Annual Conference, Harrogate, Yorkshire, 10th April, 2013. The title is Responding to contemporary crises: an ethical action framework. Maybe it doesn’t quite offer such a framework, but the lecture does try to explore some of the factors that make this necessary. It focuses in two contemporary crises, recent scandals in health and social welfare and the ecological crisis of climate change. It introduces the concept of ideology-action-structure complexes and links the hegemonic ones to the overall ideology-action-structure complex of coloniality, introduced from 1492. It contrasts professional ethical codes with the liberation ethics of Enrique Dussel and draws on Maritza Montero’s characterisation of the new liberatory and decolonising social science paradigm, adding an emphasis on the role of the public intellectual. A more extended treatment of some of the themes can be found in the working paper: The mess we’re in.