Norman Bowie and Richard Rorty on multinationals: Does business ethics need 'metaphysical comfort?' [Book Review]
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Business Ethics 9 (3):191 - 200 (1990)
Norman Bowie wrote an article on the moral obligations of multinational corporations in 1987. This paper is a response to Bowie, but more importantly, it is designed to articulate the force and substance of the pragmatist philosophy developed by Richard Rorty. In his article, Bowie suggested that moral universalism (which he endorses) is the only credible method of doing business ethics across cultures and that cultural relativism and ethnocentrism are not. Bowie, in a manner surprisingly common among contemporary philosophers, lumps Rorty into a bad guy category without careful analysis of his philosophy and ascribes to him views which clearly do not fit. I attempt to provide both a more careful articulation of Rorty's views, and to use his pragmatism to illustrate an approach to business ethics which is more fruitful than Bowie's. This brand of philosophy follows the Enlightenment spirit of toleration and attempts to set aside questions of Truth, whether religious or philosophical, and have ethics centered around what James called that which is good in the way of belief. Rather than looking for metaphysical foundations or some type of external justification, ethicists perform their craft from within the cultural traditions, narratives and practices of their society.
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References found in this work BETA
R. Rorty (1981). Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. Princeton University Press.
Richard Rorty (1989). Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity. Cambridge University Press.
Richard Rorty (1982). Consequences of Pragmatism. University of Minnesota Press.
John Rawls (1985). Justice as Fairness: Political Not Metaphysical. Philosophy and Public Affairs 14 (3):223-251.
Thomas Donaldson (1982). Corporations and Morality. Journal of Business Ethics 1 (3):251-253.
Citations of this work BETA
Jennifer L. Nevins, William O. Bearden & Bruce Money (2007). Ethical Values and Long-Term Orientation. Journal of Business Ethics 71 (3):261 - 274.
Kerry L. Pedigo & Verena Marshall (2009). Bribery: Australian Managers' Experiences and Responses When Operating in International Markets. [REVIEW] Journal of Business Ethics 87 (1):59 - 74.
Geert Demuijnck (2015). Universal Values and Virtues in Management Versus Cross-Cultural Moral Relativism: An Educational Strategy to Clear the Ground for Business Ethics. Journal of Business Ethics 128 (4):817-835.
Don Mayer & Anita Cava (1993). Ethics and the Gender Equality Dilemma for U.S. Multinationals. Journal of Business Ethics 12 (9):701 - 708.
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Norman E. Bowie (2010). Organizational Integrity and Moral Climates. In George G. Brenkert & Tom L. Beauchamp (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Business Ethics. Oxford University Press
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