The decomposition of the corporate body: What Kant cannot contribute to business ethics [Book Review]
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Journal of Business Ethics 74 (3):253 - 266 (2007)
Kant is gaining popularity in business ethics because the categorical imperative rules out actions such as deceptive advertising and exploitative working conditions, both of which treat people merely as means to an end. However, those who apply Kant in this way often hold businesses themselves morally accountable, and this conception of collective responsibility contradicts the kind of moral agency that underlies Kant's ethics. A business has neither inclinations nor the capacity to reason, so it lacks the conditions necessary for constraint by the moral law. Instead, corporate policies ought to be understood as analogous to legal constraints. They may encourage or discourage certain actions, but they cannot determine a person's maxim - which for Kant is the focus of moral judgment. Because there is no collective intention apart from any intentions of the individual agents who act as members of the corporation, an organization itself has no moral obligations. This poses a dilemma: either apply the categorical imperative to the actions of particular businesspeople and surrender the notion of collective responsibility, or apply a different moral theory to the actions of businesses themselves. Given the diffusion of responsibility in a bureaucracy, the explanatory usefulness of collective responsibility may force business ethicists to abandon Kant's moral philosophy
|Keywords||Bowie, Norman categorical imperative collective responsibility corporate responsibility corporate internal decision procedure (CID) decision procedures deontological ethics Kant maxims moral agency responsibility|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
David E. Ohreen & Roger A. Petry (2012). Imperfect Duties and Corporate Philanthropy: A Kantian Approach. Journal of Business Ethics 106 (3):367-381.
Stephen Swailes (2013). The Ethics of Talent Management. Business Ethics 22 (1):32-46.
Claus Dierksmeier (2013). Kant on Virtue. Journal of Business Ethics 113 (4):597-609.
Similar books and articles
Robert Johnson (2009). Good Will and the Moral Worth of Acting From Duty. In Thomas E. Hill (ed.), The Blackwell Guide to Kant's Ethics. Wiley-Blackwell.
Richard Dean (2006). The Value of Humanity in Kant's Moral Theory. Oxford University Press.
Lee Anne Peck (2007). Sapere Aude! The Importance of a Moral Education in Kant's Doctrine of Virtue. Journal of Mass Media Ethics 22 (2 & 3):208 – 214.
Oliver Sensen (2011). Kant's Conception of Inner Value. European Journal of Philosophy 19 (2):262-280.
Stephen Wilmot (2001). Corporate Moral Responsibility: What Can We Infer From Our Understanding of Organisations? [REVIEW] Journal of Business Ethics 30 (2):161 - 169.
John Hasnas (2012). Reflections on Corporate Moral Responsibility and the Problem Solving Technique of Alexander the Great. Journal of Business Ethics 107 (2):183-195.
Rita C. Manning (1984). Corporate Responsibility and Corporate Personhood. Journal of Business Ethics 3 (1):77 - 84.
Andrews Reath (2010). Contemporary Kantian Ethics. In John Skorupski (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Ethics. Routledge.
Matthew C. Altman (2012). Kant and Applied Ethics: The Uses and Limits of Kant's Practical Philosophy. Wiley-Blackwell.
C. Soares (2003). Corporate Versus Individual Moral Responsibility. Journal of Business Ethics 46 (2):143 - 150.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads35 ( #50,281 of 1,102,744 )
Recent downloads (6 months)7 ( #36,549 of 1,102,744 )
How can I increase my downloads?