On the Relevance of Political Philosophy to Business Ethics

Business Ethics Quarterly 15 (3):455-473 (2005)
The central problems of political philosophy (e.g., legitimate authority, distributive justice) mirror the central problems of businessethics. The question naturally arises: should political theories be applied to problems in business ethics? If a version of egalitarianism is the correct theory of justice for states, for example, does it follow that it is the correct theory of justice for businesses? If states should be democratically governed by their citizens, should businesses be democratically managed by their employees? Most theorists who have considered these questions, including John Rawls in Political Liberalism, and Robert Phillips and Joshua Margolis in a 1999 article, have said “no.” They claim that states and businesses are different kinds of entities, and hence require different theories of justice. I challenge this claim. While businesses differ from states, the difference is one of degree, not one of kind. Business ethicshas much to learn from political philosophy
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