Limited paternalism and the pontius pilate plight

Journal of Business Ethics 8 (12):955 - 962 (1989)
Ebejer and Morden (Paternalism in the Marketplace: Should a Salesman Be His Buyer's Keeper?, Journal of Business Ethics 7, 1988) propose limited paternalism as a sufficient regulative condition for a professional ethic of sales. Although the principle is immediately appealing, its application can lead to a counter-productive ethical quandary I call the Pontius Pilate Plight. This quandary is the assumption that ethical agents' hands are clean in certain situations even if they have done something they condemn as immoral. Since limited paternalism can give rise to this queer conclusion in the salesperson/buyer relationship, the principle is suspect. It may be a necessary condition for ethical sales, but is not sufficient. This discussion concludes by suggesting two additional criteria which, when complemented by the limited paternalism principle, are jointly sufficient.
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