In this essay, I consider the implications for traditional philosophical ethics posed by discoveries in brain research or neurocognition as well as psychological discoveries concerning human biases and cognitive limitations presented in behavioral economics. I conclude that although there still is much for philosophical ethics to do, the empirical research shows that human freedom and responsibility for ethical decisions is somewhat diminished and that choice architecture and nudges through public policy become important for getting people to do the right thing.
In “Sweatshops and Respect for Persons” we argued on Kantian grounds that managers of multinational enterprises (MNEs) have the following duties: to adhere to local labor laws, to refrain from coercion, to meet minimum health and safety standards, and to pay workers a living wage. In their commentary on our paper Sollars and Englander challenge some of our conclusions. We argue here that several of their criticisms are based on an inaccurate reading of our paper, and that none of the (...) remaining criticisms successfully challenge our main arguments. By highlighting the shortcomings of their arguments we hope to advance discussion of the ethical treatment of workers in global supply chains. (shrink)
My station and its duties : the function of being a manager -- Stockholder management or stakeholder management -- The ethical treatment of employees -- The ethical treatment of customers -- Supply chain management and other issues -- Corporate social responsibility -- Moral imagination, stakeholder theory and systems thinking : one approach to management decision-making -- Leadership.
The literature contains many recommendations, both explicit and implicit, that suggest how an ethics program ought to be designed.While we recognize the contributions of these works, we also note that these recommendations are typically based on either social scientific theory or data and as a result they tend to discount the moral aspects of ethics programs. To contrast and complement these approaches, we refer to a theory of the right to identify the characteristics of an effective ethics program. We draw (...) from Kant’s ethical theory to identify three guiding principles of a moral ethics program and then apply those principles to the specific components of ethics programs as discussed in the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Doing so provides insights as to how an ethics program ought to be designed from a moral point of view and sparks discussion of the moral aspects of ethics programs. (shrink)
This article applies the Kantian doctrine of respect for persons to the problem of sweatshops. We argue that multinational enterprises are properly regarded as responsible for the practices of their subcontractors and suppliers. We then argue that multinational enterprises have the following duties in their offshore manufacturing facilities: to ensure that local labor laws are followed; to refrain from coercion; to meet minimum safety standards; and to provide a living wage for employees. Finally, we consider and reply to the objection (...) that improving health and safety conditions and providing a living wage will cause greater harm than good. (shrink)
This article applies the Kantian doctrine of respect for persons to the problem of sweatshops. We argue that multinational enterprises are properly regarded as responsible for the practices of their subcontractors and suppliers. We then argue that multinationalenterprises have the following duties in their off-shore manufacturing facilities: to ensure that local labor laws are followed; to refrain from coercion; to meet minimum safety standards; and to provide a living wage for employees. Finally, we consider and reply to the objection that (...) improving health and safety conditions and providing a living wage will cause greater harm than good. (shrink)
When an organization is pressured to respond to moral expressions in capital, consumer and labor markets, it faces a dilemma of how to respond. Should Shell have given in to Greenpeace in deciding how to dispose of the Brent Spar Oil Rig? Should Cracker Barrel give in to pressures to fire homosexual employees? Firms should consider the nature of the moral expressions pressuring them in deciding how to respond. Moral expressions can be divided into three descriptive categories: Benign, Disputed and (...) Problematic. Each carries different implications for corporate action and in some cases will justify corporate resistance to moral expressions by stakeholders. In order to appropriately respond to moral pressures, firms should first engage in a process of discovery aimed at identifying moral pressures relevant to the firmös missions and objectives and then engage in a process of justification concerning their responses. Such a conclusion is consistent with important trends of contemporary thought in ethics and political philosophy and is strongly supported by Kantian analysis. (shrink)
Although BEQ is celebrating its tenth anniversary, business ethics is considerably older than that. Business ethics has been a staple of Catholic thinking on business for most of this century at least. For most philosophers, however, business ethics is about twenty-five years old. Philosophers became active in the field in the mid-1970s. I have chosen as my topic for this essay the role that the discipline of philosophy could play in the future.
In this article I use Kantian moral philosophy to develop a concept of meaningful work. Specifically, a Kantian would argue that work is meaningful if (1) it is freely entered into, (2) it allows the worker to exercise her autonomy and independence, (3) it enables the worker to develop her rational capacities, (4) it provides a wage sufficient for physical welfare, (5) it supports the moral development of employees and (6) it is not paternalistic. I then provide examples of contemporary (...) management practices that provide meaningful work in this sense. (shrink)
In recent years, two topics have made prominent debuts in the management literature—“virtual” corporations and trust within and among organizations. These two themes are related in that trust is important to the success of the virtual corporation. This article argues that confidence in the development of virtual corporations may be premature because of what we call the Virtual Corporation Paradox. This paradox can be succinctly stated: the short-term, transient deal-making on which the efficiency of the virtual corporation rests greatly impedes (...) the development of the mutually trusting and cooperative relationships on which its success depends. We examine both economic and sociological explanations for the emergence of trust in similar situations and find both deficient. We conclude that the success of virtual corporations will ultimately depend on an ethics-based form of corporate “character” that allows firms to develop trusting relationships without the usual safeguards or social norms. (shrink)
The professions have focused considerable attention on developing codes of conduct. Despite their efforts there is considerable controversy regarding the propriety of professional codes of ethics. Many provisions of professional codes seem to exacerbate disputes between the profession and the public rather than providing a framework that satisfies the public''s desire for moral behavior.After examining three professional codes, we divide the provisions of professional codes into those provisions which urge professionals to avoid moral hazard, maintain professional courtesy and serve the (...) public interest. We note that whereas provisions urging the avoidance of moral hazard are uncontroversial, the public is suspicious of provisions protecting professional courtesy. Public interest provisions are controversial when the public and the profession disagree as to what is in the public interest. Based on these observations, we conclude with recommendations regarding the content of professional codes. (shrink)
Agency theory involves what is known as the principal-agent problem, a topic widely discussed in economics, management, and business ethics today. It is a characteristic of nearly all modern business firms that the principals (the owners and shareholders) are not the same people as the agents (the managers who run the firms for the principals). This creates situations in which the goals of the principals may not be the same as the agents--the principals will want growth in profits and stock (...) price, while agents may want growth in salaries and positions in the hierarchy. The fourth volume in the Ruffin Series in Business, this book explores the ethical consequences of agency theory through contributions by ethicists, economists, and management theorists. (shrink)
Most economists are committed to some version of egoism. After distinguishing among the various sorts of egoistic claims, l cite the empirical literature against psychological egoism and show that attempts to account for this data make these economists' previous empirical claims tautological. Moreover, the assumption of egoism has undesirable consequences, especially for students; if people believe that others behave egoistically, they are more likely to behave egoistically themselves. As an alternative to egoism I recommend the commitment model of Robert Frank. (...) The equivalent of egoism at the organizational level is that business firms seek (should seek) to maximize profits. I present arguments to show that a conscious attempt by managers to maximize profits is likely to fail. A committed altruism is more likely to raise profits. I suggest that a firm should take as its primary purpose providing meaningful work for employees. (shrink)
The paper challenges a minimalist strategy in business ethics that maintains if it's legal, it's moral. In hard cases, judges decide legal issues by appealing to moral ideals. Investigation shows that the bedrock concept is fairness. Often judges define fairness in terms of non-coerciveness or equality of bargaining power. The prudent manager must look beyond the legal department to the ethical notion of fairness. Moreover, if the courts were to consistently appeal to non-coerciveness and equality of bargaining power, some practices (...) now considered morally acceptable would be neither moral nor legal. (shrink)
The thesis of the paper is that there are no important differences between problems in business ethics and problems in engineering ethics. The problems are both of the same logical type. What keeps this contention from being obvious is that many view engineers as professionals and business persons as nonprofessionals. If you accept the traditional definition of professional neither engineering nor business qualify. If you adopt the attitudinal definition of a profession which I propose, both practitioners could be professionals. This (...) thesis is then tested by applying it to six specific issues in business and/or engineering ethics. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that the poker analogy is unsuitable as a model for collective bargaining negotiations. Using the poker game analogy is imprudent, its use undermines trust and ignores the cooperative features of business, and its use fails to take into account the values of dignity and fairness which should characterize labor-management negotiations. I propose and defend a model of ideal family decision-making as a superior model to the poker game.