The HIV/AIDS crisis and corporate moral responsibility in the light of the Levinasian notions of proximity and the third
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Business Ethics 16 (3):278–285 (2007)
This paper focuses on the set of problems regarding the HIV/AIDS crisis in the specific domain of corporate moral responsibility within a context of the Levinasian notion of proximity (infinite responsibility) and the Third. Against a totalitarian, homogeneous society, Levinas opens the way to a social pluralism, which has its sources in the disquiet provoked by the strangeness of the Other's face. Corporate responsibility, understood from this point of view, would not reduce institutional relations to an anonymous world of neutrality. Corporate responsibility is unconditional in the sense that to be responsible is not a question of choice, but one of deep liberty, the liberty of taking the burden of the infinite responsibility for the Other customers, employees, the public at large and those who suffer in the world. This paper argues that it would then also mean that society (individuals, NGOs and governments) in accordance with the spirit of the Levinasian philosophy of infinite responsibility could exert pressure on corporations, such as pharmaceutical companies. Owing to their power, they could change their present responsibility policies to a more affirmative and engaged responsibility with regard to those who are ill and who suffer death or debilitation from HIV/AIDS and other prevalent diseases in the poorest parts of the world today.
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