Human beings naturally care a great deal for themselves--and couldn't survive otherwise. As Aquinas observed, the drive for self-preservation is the first law of nature. Yet in the imperative of self-love, philosophers have also perceived a tacit threat. Plato reminds us that 'the excessive love of self is in reality the source to each man of all offences.' And so the inevitability of self- concern must be balanced with its manifest potential for harm. But how is such a reconciliation possible? (...) This collection brings tohether the efforts of twenty- three great thinkers addressing such themes as the nature of self-interest, its connection to benevolence and morality, and its implications for political theory. The philosophical results are rich and varied. Self-Interest is intended for philosophers, students, and anyone inclined to reflect upon a subject of such enduring importance and perplexity as the love of self. (shrink)
This article explores the association between medical professionalism, revenue enhancement, and self-interest. Utilizing the sociological literature, I begin by characterizing professionalism generally and medical professionalism particularly. I then consider “pay for performance” mechanisms as an example of one way physicians might be incentivized to improve their professionalism and, at the same time, enhance their revenue. I suggest that the concern discussed in much of the medical professionalism literature that physicians might act on the basis of self-interest is over-generalized, (...) and that instead we ought to argue about ways to distinguish permissible and impermissible self-interested actions. Also, I argue that financial incentives for medical professionals ought to be permissible but considered as “by-products” of doing what physicians are expected to do as professionals in any case. Nevertheless, I conclude that, even if a positive association between increasing professionalism and revenue enhancement can be established, in the long term it may not be an unambiguous good for physicians as professionals in that this association may tend to reduce their professional discretion. (shrink)
B'Imagine that you could choose a book that everyone in the world would read. My choice would be this book.' Roger Crisp, Ethics -/- Many people have an uneasy feeling that they may be missing out on something basic that would give their lives a significance it currently lacks. But how should we live? What is there to stop us behaving selfishly? In a highly readable account which makes reference to a wide variety of sources and everyday issues, Peter Singer (...) suggests that the conventional pursuit of self-interest is individually and collectively self-defeating. Taking into consideration the beliefs of Jesus, Kant, Rousseau, and Adam Smith amongst others, he looks at a number of different cultures, including America, Japan, and the Aborigines to assess whether or not selfishness is in our genes and how we may find greater satisfaction in an ethical lifestyle. (shrink)
This paper is devoted to explicating Dai Zhen’s defense of self-interested desires, over and against a tradition that sets strict limits to their range and function in moral agency. I begin by setting the terms of the debate between Dai and his opponents, noting that the dispute turns largely on the moral status of directly self-interested desires, or desires for one’s own good as such. I then consider three of Dai’s arguments against views that miscategorize or undervalue directly self-interested desires. (...) I begin with the most widely recognized line of defense, which holds that the suppression of such desires makes those in positions of authority less sensitive to the mistreatment of those with whose interests they are entrusted. I call this the “Pity for the Powerless” argument. I then explore an argument that Dai offers in the form of a multi-faceted metaphor, which likens the suppression of desires to attempts to block or dam natural waterways. I call this is the “Damming the Desires” argument. I conclude with a brief summary of a third and fundamental defense implied by structural features of ethics as Dai understand them. As I read Dai, he thinks ethical appraisal is concerned first and foremost with the dispositions and resultant behavior that allow us to participate in relationships that are mutually beneficial, as opposed to those required merely for the performance of obligations to others or other-directed concern more generally. I call this the “Argument from Mutual Fulfillment.” On the view spelled out here, directly self-interested desires are not just morally tolerable, nor is the possession of them merely a necessary condition for the possession of moral virtue; instead, moral virtue is constituted in part by self-interested desires. This is the strong position that Dai endorses when he characterizes the Confucian path as the “way of mutual fulfillment.”. (shrink)
This essay gives a new interpretation of some of the central ethical doctrines of Bishop Butler's Sermons -- in particular, of his claim that a review of the empirical facts of human nature shows that we have "an obligation to the practice of virtue", and of the precise claims that he makes about the relations between morality and self-interest.
In the moral philosophy of the last two centuries, altruism of one kind or another has typically been regarded as identical with moral concern. When self-regarding duties have been recognized, motivation by duty has been sharply distinguished from motivation by self-interest. I think this view is wrong: self-interest can be the motive of a moral act. My chief concern is to argue that self-interested action -- i.e., action motivated by rational self-interest -- can be moral, but the (...) data I use to argue for this also provide compelling empirical evidence that all human motives do not reduce to self-interest, that altruism is possible. (shrink)
Self-interest is widely regarded as an important, if not as the only, source of reasons for action, and hence it is widely held that one can rationally give special weight to one’s self-interest in deciding how to act. In what follows, I will argue against this view. I will do so by following the lead of Derek Parfit, and considering cases in which personal identity appears to break down. My argument will differ from Parfit’s, however, in that it (...) will have a stronger conclusion, it will involve fewer assumptions, and it will be compatible with a wider range of theories of personal identity. (shrink)
Moralists tend to have a low opinion of self-interest. It is seen as force that has to be controlled or transcended. This essay tries to get beyond the bifurcation of human motivations into self-interest (which is seen as vicious or non-moral) and concern for others (which is virtuous). It argues that there are some surprising affinities between self-interest and morality. Notably the principal force that checks self-interest is self-interest itself. Consequently, self-interest often coincides with (...) and reinforces the commands of morality and promotes civility and consideration for others. Therefore it provides us with resources for constructing a more humane and civil society. (shrink)
Chapter 49 of the Han Feizi, entitled 'Wudu' ('The Five Vermin'), includes one of the earliest discussions in Chinese history of the concepts of gong and si: Han Fei (d. 233 B.C.) takes si to mean 'acting in one's own interest'. Gong is simply what opposes si. 'Acting in one's own interest' is not inherently reprehensible in Han Fei's view; but a ruler must remember why ministers propose their policies: they are concerned only with enriching themselves, and look upon the (...) ruler as nothing more than a resource to be exploited in their quest for material aggrandizement. The interests of the ministers and the ruler are diametrically opposed. Ministers <span class='Hi'>hope</span> for a comfortable career; a ruler must weed out the posers in his search for those rare and invaluable adjuvants who are genuinely capable of administering the state. In short, if si is the self-interest of the minister, gong is the self-interest of the ruler. (shrink)
: In this article it is assumed that human goodness is to be judged with respect to how well one does at practical reasoning. It is acknowledged that (1) there is a difference between moral practical reasoning (MPR) and prudential practical reasoning (PPR) and (2) what these would recommend sometimes conflict. A distinction is then made between absolute PPR and relative PPR and it is argued that doing well at absolute PPR is always consistent with MPR. It is also argued (...) that since it is more reasonable to assess prudential practical rationality in terms of the absolute standard than the relative standard, there is no conflict between the demands of MPR (morality) and PPR (self-interest). (shrink)
In 1990, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a consent order to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). The order decreed the AICPA to lessen its longstanding ethics code which had until then banned the receipts of commissions, referral fees and contingent fees. The FTC alleged that the AICPA banned receipt of the fees as an attempt to restrain trade (FTC, 1990).In the present study, we sought to determine if CPAs'' preference for bans on commissions, referral fees and (...) contingent fees is related to their moral reasoning whereby CPAs perceive the bans to serve as a means of resolving ethical issues. While determining this matter cannot prove whether the bans did or did not actually result in restrained trade, it can offer insight into the perceived ethical importance to CPAs of the overturned rules. Based on a random sample of AICPA members and using Rest''s Defining Issues Test (DIT) to measure moral reasoning, we did not find a CPA''s moral reasoning to be related to his/her preference for ethics rules which ban commissions, referral fees or contingent fees. However, our results did indicate that most CPAs prefer banning commissions, referral fees and contingent fees, with those CPAs holding a higher financial stake in public accounting, namely partners, favoring banning referral fees and contingent fees significantly less than CPAs with a lesser stake. Further, we noted a significant negative relationship between financial stake and moral reasoning. These results seem to suggest that self-interest among CPAs may influence their moral reasoning.Further study is needed to examine the relationship between self-interest of CPAs and their moral reasoning. If self-interest clouds moral judgments made by CPAs, capital markets are in danger. Rendering an independent audit opinion must exclude self-interest. (shrink)
Butler's famous arguments in Sermon XI, designed to refute psychological egoism and to mitigate conflict between self-interest and benevolence, turn out to depend crucially on his own distinctive conception of self-interest. Butler does not notice (or anyway, doesn't notice at the crucial points) the availability of several alternative conceptions of self-interest. Some such alternatives are available within the framework of Butler's moral psychology; others can be developed outside that framework. There are a number of interesting reasons to (...) prefer one or other such account of the ordinary concept of self-interest; but, ultimately, no such reasons prove decisive, and we should reject the idea that there is a uniquely correct account of self-interest. Since Butler's arguments require the unique adequacy of his own distinctive conception of self-interest, they must be rejected. (shrink)
The Puritan ethic is conventionally interpreted as a set of individualistic values that encourage a degree of self-interest inimical to the good of organizations and society. A closer reading of original Puritan moralists reveals a different ethic. Puritan moralists simultaneously legitimated economic individualism while urging individuals to work for the common good. They contrasted self-interest and the common good, which they understood to be the sinful and moral ends, respectively, of economic individualism. This polarity can be found in (...) all the details of their moral system, including the Puritan understanding of vocation, economic virtues, property rights, contracts, wealth and poverty, market prices and interest, and the proper economic role of government. The efforts of contemporary ethics to confront the problem of self-interest in business organizations and society would be enriched by a rediscovery of the Puritan understanding of self as a fundamental problem for any individualistic value system. (shrink)
Some in public relations have suggested that practitioners adopt a philosophy of enlightened self-interest as an ethical baseline. The author contends that such a theory must be rejected because even the enlightened variety does not adequately weigh the needs of significant others - a central consideration in any effort to define ethical behavior. The author maintains that genuine sacrifice - at times required of those desiring to do the right thing - clearly can conflict with any theory espousing (...) class='Hi'>self-interest as a baseline. Further, there is a social dimension to ethics. By virtue of occupational title, the author holds that public relations practitioners have a particular responsibility to advance the social order. Ethical behavior - especially as it relates to public relations - must go well beyond a narrow concern that no injustice is done to individual persons. (shrink)
Part II. Section 5. Interests, Self-Interest and Autonomy: Two questions drive this chapter: 1) What kinds of things can be objects of autonomous choices? and 2) How are these related to an individual's authentic self? If self-interest is construed as securing a set of basic goods for oneself, personal autonomy and self-interest can collide. Still, Meyers holds that autonomy based on exercising autonomy competency is compatible with the dominance principle, which counsels opting for a course of action (...) that satisfies at least one more authentic desire than other available possibilities. (shrink)
The self-interest paradigm predicts that unethical behavior occurs when such behavior benefits the actor. A recent model of lying behavior, however, predicts that lying behavior results from an individual''s inability to meet conflicting role demands. The need to reconcile the self-interest and role conflict theories prompted the present study, which orthogonally manipulated the benefit from lying and the conflicting role demands. A model integrating the two theories predicts the results, which showed that both elements — (...) self benefit and role conflict — influenced lying, separately and interactively. Additionally, the relative strength of the roles in conflict affected their level of influence. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed. (shrink)
The sociological models of functionalism and conflict are introduced and utilized to analyze professionalism in the accounting profession as it is manifest in the American Institute of Certified Public Accountant's Code of Conduct. Rule 203 of the Code and provisions of the Code related to the public interest are examined using semiotic analysis to determine if they are most consistent with the functionalist or conflict models. While the analysis does not address intent of the Code, it is determined that the (...) Code contains semantic defects which result in different interpretations of the Code to different readers. The defects found are most consistent with the conflict model of professionalism. This has implications for the public and for individuals within the profession, making the Code less useful to both groups. The defects are seen as a potential battleground for the self-interest vs the public interest orientation of the accounting profession. (shrink)
Philosophical discussions of the conflict between morality and self-interest typically proceed on the assumption that we have a relatively unproblematic understanding of self-interest. That assumption can be challenged by asking how to relate acts of self-interest and acts of integrity. I argue that when we are talking about motivations, it is better to keep the motivation of self-interest distinct from the motivation of integrity. But the term “self-interest” can also be used to refer to an (...) end, and acts of integrity may sometimes serve the end of self-interest. Against an identity-independent conception of interests (which gives to acts of integrity a possible instrumental value in achieving some interests), I argue in favor of an identity-dependent conception of interests that makes interests relative to the evaluative perspective of someone with a particular identity that acts of integrity help to preserve. (shrink)
ABSTRACT Self-Interest and Public Interest in Western Politics showed that the public, politicians, and bureaucrats are often public spirited. But this does not invalidate public-choice theory. Public-choice theory is an ideal type, not a claim that self-interest explains all political behavior. Instead, public-choice theory is useful in creating rules and institutions that guard against the worst case, which would be universal self-interestedness in politics. In contrast, the public-interest hypothesis is neither a comprehensive explanation of political behavior nor a (...) sound basis for institutional design. (shrink)
We re-examine the construct of Moral Hypocrisy from the perspective of normative self-interest. Arguing that some degree of self-interest is culturally acceptable and indeed expected, we postulate that a pattern of behavior is more indicative of moral hypocrisy than a single action. Contrary to previous findings, our results indicate that a significant majority of subjects (N = 136) exhibited fair behavior, and that ideals of caring and fairness, when measured in context of the scenario, were predictive of those (...) behaviors. Moreover, measures of Individualism/Collectivism appear more predictive of self-interested behavior than out-of-context responses to moral ideals. Implications for research and practice are discussed. (shrink)
“Economic man” assumes not only self-interest, but also rationality of choices. The finding that ultimatum game offers can be explained by ambiguity aversion as well as pessimism, plus other findings, suggests the usefulness of taking bounded rationality more into account. Neurodevelopmental and heritability research supports the authors' emphasis on the importance of social learning and socialization.
On taking the common distinction between the legal and the ethical as a point of departure, and in an effort to understand Marshall's approach to self-interest, and thereby to his conception of an ethics of commerce, I read three of his essays in the light of some non-technical writings of Frank Hahn and three other Cambridge intellectuals. My larger project connects self-interest and self-deception to a possible ethics of theorizing in economics, and thereby to the ethics of the (...) relationship between the theorist and the theorized, the analyst and the analyzed. (shrink)
ABSTRACT Four decades ago, Gerald Kramer showed that economic conditions affect electoral outcomes. Some researchers took this to mean that voters were self-interested, voting their ?pocketbooks,? while others, such as Leif Lewin, took it to mean that voters were sociotropic, motivated by the public interest?and therefore altruistic. It is important, however, to avoid conflating sociotropic voters with altruistic ones. Voters might be voting in favor of politicians or parties that they think will further the public interest as an indirect (...) route to furthering their own interests, as members of the public. More research, perhaps conducted using novel methodologies, is needed in order to settle the extent to which voters are motivated by self-interest or by the public interest. (shrink)
The adoption of experimental methods from economics, in particular script-enactment, performance-related payment, and the absence of deception, will turn experimental social psychology into a trivial science subject. Such procedures force participants to conform to a normative expectation that they must behave rationally and in accordance with their self-interest. The self-fulfilling prophecy inherent in these procedures makes it more difficult to conduct innovative social-psychological research.
ABSTRACT In its attempt to prove that voters, politicians, and bureaucrats are motivated by the public interest, Self-Interest and Public Interest in Western Politics overlooks a great deal of public-choice research, to which much has been added during the two decades since it was published. The importance of self-interest at both the micro and macro levels of politics becomes clear once one looks not simply at the ?inputs? of a democracy but at its ?outputs? as well. The prevalence (...) of interest groups, the dysfunction of the United States tax code, the lobbying by unions for their members? self-interest, the earmarks in the Patriot Act, the numerous cases of corruption in Western democracies, and the dissatisfaction of citizens with their governments? failings all point to the importance of self-interest in politics. (shrink)
In order to explain the idea that sacrifice involves voluntary diminution of the agent’s well-being, “well-being” must be explained. The thesis that an agent’s well-being just consists in the occurrence of events wanted is rejected. Overvold replaces it by the view that the motivating desires involve the existence of the agent, alive, at the time of their satisfaction. This view seems counterintuitive. The whole desire-satisfaction theory is to be rejected partly because we dont’t think an event worthwile if it is (...) not liked when it occurs, and partly because the theory cannot give a sensible account of what is good for an individual when his desires change. A more satisfactory view is that the goodness of an event for a person is fixed by his total gratifications as a result of its occurrence, provided they would occur if the person were fully informed about facts knowledge of which would change them if it existed. But self-sacrifice seems to involve not only voluntary diminution of well-being in this sense, but belief that the action is taken for the benefit of someone else. Overvold’s view leaves open the possibility that acting morally is never contrary to self-interest, if one of the agent’s major interests is that he act morally. This is an ingenious suggestion, but seems a bit counterintuitive. (shrink)
We examine the writings of Adam Smith and Milton Friedman regarding their interpretation and use of the concept of self-interest.We argue that neither Smith nor Friedman considers self-interest to be synonymous with selfishness and thus devoid of ethicalconsiderations. Rather, for both writers self-interest embodies an other-regarding aspect that requires individuals to moderate theiractions when others are adversely affected. The overriding virtue for Smith in governing individual actions is justice; for Friedman it isnon-coercion.
Central to the United Nations Framework setting out the human rights responsibilities of corporations proposed by John Ruggie is the principle that corporations have a responsibility to respect human rights in their operations whether or not doing so is required by law and whether or not human rights laws are actively enforced. Ruggie proposes that corporations should respect this principle in their strategic management and day-to-day operations for reasons of corporate (enlightened) self-interest. This paper identifies this as a serious (...) weakness and argues that identifying the responsibility to respect human rights as an explicitly ethical obligation to be respected for that reason would provide a much stronger justificatory foundation for respecting the principle seen from a corporateperspective, given that corporations are accountable to their shareholders for their deployment of the firm’s financial resources. (shrink)
If agents motivated only by self-interested reasons practice different degrees of ethical environmental behavior at least partly because they hold different notions of what is in their self-interest, then the nature of our self-interest conceptions is a central issue in environmental ethics. Unless set by biology, as seems unlikely from the evidence, the breadth of the individual self-interest conception we each develop must depend on the specific experiences we are each contingently exposed to in our lives. If (...) nurturing a stronger environmental ethic within our society is a goal, if that ethic depends at least in part on how we individually conceive of our self-interest, and if the development of each of our self-interest conceptions responds contingently to input from others, then these reflections lead to normative considerations that reach beyond the standard ethical questions regarding how to act to others that concern, antecedently, whether to act at all. (shrink)
In biosemiotics, life and living phenomena are described by means of originally anthropomorphic semiotic concepts. This can be justified if we can show that living systems as self-maintaining far from equilibrium systems create and update some kind of representation about the conditions of their self-maintenance. The point of view is the one of semiotic realism where signs and representations are considered as real and objective natural phenomena without any reference to the specifically human interpreter. It is argued that the most (...) basic concept of representation must be forward looking and that both C. Peirce’s and J. v. Uexküll’s concepts of sign assume an unnecessarily complex semiotic agent. The simplest representative systems do not have phenomenal objects or Umwelten at all. Instead, the minimal concept of representation and the source of normativity that is needed in its interpretation can be based on M. Bickhard’s interactivism. The initial normativity or natural self-interest is based on the ‘utility-concept’ of function: anything that contributes to the maintenance of a far from equilibrium system is functional to that system — every self-maintaining far from equilibrium system has a minimal natural self-interest to serve that function, it is its existential precondition. Minimal interactive representation emerges when such systems become able to switch appropriately between two or more means ofmaintaining themselves. At the level of such representations, a potentiality to detect an error may develop although no objects of representation for the system are provided. Phenomenal objects emerge in systems that are more complex. If a system creates a set of ongoingly updated ’situation images’ and can detect temporal invariances in the updating process, these invariances constitute objects for the system itself. Within them, a representative system gets an Umwelt and becomes capable of experiencing triadic signs. The relation between representation and its object is either iconic or indexical at this level. Correspondingly as in Peirce’s semeiotic, symbolic signs appear as more developed — for the symbolic signs, a more complex system is needed. (shrink)
In advocating that we extend our experiment in political democracy in America to include economic democracy as well, the Bishops' Letter assumes the basic social nature of man. This leaves an enormous gap between the values and attitudes they recommend and the private and individualistic view of man that undergirds our traditional economic thinking.This essay attempts to bridge that gap in terms of a theory of practice, individual in emphasis, but bringing out the enabling conditions of any and all practice (...) without which practice would not be possible. It is suggested that these presuppositions of practice function normatively in all practice, economic as well as other types, and ought to be of interest to the practice of any adequately self-interested individual. They constitute a large part of what we used to call the public interest. (shrink)
Reason, egoism, and utilitarianism, by H. Sidgwick.--Is egoism reasonable? By G. E. Moore.--Ultimate principles and ethical egoism, by B. Medlin.--In defense of egoism, by J. Kalin.--Virtuous affections and self-love, by F. Hutcheson.--Our obligation to virtue, by D. Hume.--Duty and interest, by H. A. Prichard.--The natural condition of mankind and the laws of nature, by T. Hobbes.--Why should we be moral? By K. Baier.--Morality and advantage, by D. P. Gauthier.--Bibliographical essay (p. 181-184).
This paper examines the self-interested reasons that businesses can have for ethical behaviour. It distinguishes between economic and non-economic reasons and, among the latter, notes those connected with the self-esteem of managers. It offers a detailed typology of prudential reasons for ethical behaviour, laying particular stress on those to do with avoiding punishment by society for wrongdoing and, more particularly still, stresses the role of campaigning pressure groups within that particular category of reasons. It goes on to suggest that because (...) of their occupation of the moral high ground, campaigning groups are well placed to damage the self-esteem of managers and that this is why those groups seem able to exert an influence that goes beyond their somewhat limited capacity to inflict economic damage upon businesses. The paper concludes with the suggestion that we may be witnessing a virtuous spiral whereby rising public expectations of morality in business lead to ever increasing moral commitments by business that then cause those expectations to rise still further. (shrink)
The problem of altruism is to determine intellectually compelling grounds for allowing others' interests and desires to weigh with us as well as our own. Two considerations impact on that problem. One concerns the clustering of particular interests and desires. The doctrine of the distinctness of persons gives prime importance to their origin in a particular individual. But clustering across individuals, rather than within individuals, may be more reasonable in the light of meta-attitudes towards our interests and desires and the (...) interconnection of individuals' interests. The other concerns individuals' identification with the interests and desires of a collectivity to which they belong, for its own sake. This identification, while in some ways resembling altruism and self-interested motivation, is sui generis. It leads us to rethink the polarity of self and others by remainding us that the polarity does not adequately reflect an important aspect of human social relations. (shrink)
This essay seeks to start a dialogue between two traditions that historically have interpreted the economy in opposing ways: the individualism of classic economic liberalism (CEL), represented by Adam Smith and Milton Friedman, and the communitarianism of Catholic social teaching (CST), interpreted primarily through the teachings of popes and secondarily the U.S. Catholic bishops. The present authors, an economist and a moral theologian who identify with one or the other of the two traditions, strive to clarify objectively their similarities and (...) differences with the opposing perspective. Section one focuses on each position''s perspective of love of self and love of others. We find both CEL and CST saying that self-love, rightly understood, constitutes a moral good and that the love of others serves as an important principle in the political economy. We find less agreement in section two regarding justice and rights, but even here, we discover a few surprises. Both traditions uphold justice (giving to each party what is due) as essential to the political economy, and recognize some similarity in that type of justice called commutative. We note, however, substantial differences regarding a second type of justice that we call "public justice." First, they differ over the extent to which government should be involved. Here the meaning of rights, especially that of individual freedom, arises. Secondly, the traditions diverge over whether benevolence as a motivator ought to serve as a partner for public justice. Thirdly, CEL in general opposes CST''s emphasis on social justice that calls upon institutions to be proactive in helping citizens and groups to become active participants in the economy. We conclude our essay by summarizing our discoveries and by suggesting areas for further dialogue. (shrink)
A spate of recent attacks on the rationality assumption in economic theory is noticed. Some of these attacks are fresh and, in many ways, original, but the central ideas underlying them are not new. They appear to have been provoked by the direction in which much of mainstream economics has been moving in recent years. On the other hand, it is suggested here, certain developments in contemporary economics, associated particularly with the revival of interest in the Austrian paradigm, offer afresh (...) understanding of the way in which the rationality assumption, its role in economics properly understood, is able to meet these old?new attacks. (shrink)
On the Importance of the Institution and Social Self in a Sociology of Conflicts of Interest Content Type Journal Article Category Case Studies Pages 1-2 DOI 10.1007/s11673-012-9355-1 Authors Christopher Mayes, Rock Ethics Institute, The Pennsylvania State University, 201 Willard Building, University Park, PA 16802-1601, USA Journal Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Online ISSN 1872-4353 Print ISSN 1176-7529.
To make regulation more responsive to the public interest, Ian Ayers and John Braithwaite recommend improved administrative techniques, such as enforcement pyramids, to improve industry compliance; and they advocate vesting public interest groups with regulatory powers, so as to reduce regulatory capture by industry. Their arguments, while suggestive, do not take seriously enough the subtle and multifarious influences of interest groups. Consequently, the authors? recommendations are not likely to improve regulation's responsiveness to the general welfare.
The world is suffering from a dearth of health care workers, and sub-Saharan Africa, an area of great need, is experiencing the worst shortage. Developed countries are making the problem worse by luring health care workers away from the countries that need them most, while developing countries do not have the resources to stem the flow or even replace those lost. Postmodern philosopher Emmanuel Levinas offers a unique ethical framework that is helpful in assessing both the irresponsibility inherent in the (...) current global health care situation and the responsibility and obligation held by the stakeholders involved in this global crisis. Drawing on Levinas’ exploration of individual freedom and self-pursuit, infinite responsibility for the Other, and the potential emergence of a just community, we demonstrate its effectiveness in explaining the health care worker crisis, and we argue in favor of a variety of policy and development assistance measures that are grounded in an orientation of non-indifference toward Others. (shrink)
In this paper I want to present the guiding lines of a research programme into the economics of scientific knowledge, a programme whose ultimate goal is to develop what I would like to call a contractarian epistemology. The structure of the paper is as follows: in the first section I will comment on two conflicting approaches to the topic of rationality in science: the view of the rationality of scientific knowledge as deriving from the employment of sound methodological norms, and (...) the view of scientists as rational agents pursuing the optimisation of their own personal and professional interests. In section 2 I will try to make both approaches mutually consistent by showing that a competition among rational "recognition-seekers" is only possible if they agree in accepting some system of methodological norms. Section 3 will be devoted to analyse the main kinds and properties of these norms. Finally, in section 4 I will discuss a question which is far from being easy and innocent: why are scientific norms obeyed by researchers, once they have been established in a scientific discipline? (shrink)
Director compensation can potentially represent an ethical minefield. When faced with supporting strategic decisions that can lead to an increase in director pay, directors may consider their own interests and not solely those of the shareholders to whom they are legally bound to represent. In such cases, directors essentially become agents, rather than those installed to protect principals (shareholders) from agents. Using acquisitions as a study context, we employ a matched-pair design and find a statistically significant difference in outside director (...) compensation between acquiring and control firms. Outside directors of acquiring firms earn more than twice as much as their counterparts in the matched-sample. (shrink)
Parfit’s well known book, Reasons and Persons, argues, among other things, that ‘what matters’ in regard to ‘survival’ is not personal identity but something he calls ‘relation R.’ On this basis, plus other considerations, he rejects the ‘Self-interest’ theory as to what should be our aim in life. Here I show, or try to show, that his over-all argument is seriously defective. In particular, he fails to prove that personal identity is not what matters for survival.
the voluntary actions of such beings cannot be covered by causal laws. Decision theorists, accepting the premise of this argument, appeal instead to noncausal laws predicated on principles of success—oriented action, and use these laws to produce substantive and testable predictions about large—scale human behavior. The primary directive of success-oriented action is maximization of some valuable quantity. Many economists and social scientists use the principles of decision theory to explain social and economic phenomena, while many political philosophers use them to (...) make recommendations on questions of.. (shrink)
In this article I reply to Thomas Schramme's argument that there are no good reasons for the prohibition of severe forms of voluntary non-therapeutic body modification. I argue that on paternalistic assumptions there is, in fact, a perfectly good reason.
The recent accounting scandals at Enron, WorldCom, and other corporations have helped to fuel a massive loss of confidence in the integrity of American business and have contributed to a very sharp decline in the U.S. stock market. Inasmuch as these events have brought ethical questions about business to the forefront in the media and public consciousness as never before, they are of signal importance for the field of business ethics. I offer some observations and conjectures about the bearing of (...) the recent scandals on the literature on business ethics. I defend the following contentions: 1. Recent events reveal serious weaknesses of the stakeholder theory about the social responsibilities of business which lacks prohibitions against fraud and deception. This is a glaring deficiency of standard versions of the stakeholder theory, but it is easily remedied by adding explicit prohibitions against fraud and deception. In addition, recent events highlight the stakeholder theory's very naive and unrealistic hopes and expectations for business executives as moral arbiters and agents of social improvement. 2. Recent events do not constitute an objection to the shareholder theory about the social responsibilities of business, however, these events make evident the implausibility of strong versions of the invisible hand theory. 3. Schemes of payment and reward often create perverse incentives for individuals to engage in unethical conduct. 4. Both the shareholder theory and the stakeholder theory need to add a constraint that requires executives to respect the professional obligations of employees. (shrink)
A 16 year old Hodgkin lymphoma patient refuses to have his blood specimen drawn, thus canceling his scheduled oncologic treatment. As a 16 year old, he has no legal standing as an adult. His parents are split over his decision. One supports his right to choose; the other wishes the specimen to be drawn and the chemotherapy reinstated. The physicians at the hospital are seeking legal redress to have the court order the blood specimens to be taken.
We live in a 'bimoral' society, in which people govern their lives by two contrasting sets of principles. On the one hand there are the principles associated with traditional morality. Although these allow a modicum of self-interest, their emphasis is on our duties and obligations to others: to treat people honestly and with respect, to treat them fairly and without prejudice, to help and are for them when needed, and ultimately, to put their needs above their own. On the (...) other hand there are the principles associated with the entrepreneurial self-interest. These also impose obligations, but of a much more limited kind. Their emphasis is competitive rather than cooperative: to advance our own interests rather than to meet the needs of others. Both sets of principles have always been present in society but in recent years, traditional moral authorities have lost much of their force and the morality of self-interest has acquired a much greater social legitimacy, over a much wider field of behavior, than ever before. The result of this is that in many situations it is no longer at all apparent which set of principles should take precedence. In this book, John Hendry traces the cultural and historical origins of the 'bimoral' society have also led to new, more flexible forms of organizing, which have released people's entrepreneurial energies and significantly enhanced the creative capacities of business. Working within these organizations, however is fraught with moral tensions as obligations and self-interest conflict and managers are pulled in all sorts of different directions. Managing them successfully poses major new challenges of leadership, and 'moral' management, as the technical problem-solving that previously characterized managerial work is increasingly accomplished by technology and market mechanisms. The key role of management becomes the political and moral one of determining purposes and priorities, reconciling divergent interests, and nurturing trust in interpersonal relationships. Exploring these tensions and challenges, Hendry identifies new issues of contemporary management and puts recognized issues into context. He also explores the challenges posed for a post-traditional society as it seeks to regulate and govern an increasingly powerful and global business sector. (shrink)
Selfishness narrowly defined as choosing dominant outcomes independent of context is widely rejected by experimentalists. Humans live in two worlds of personal and impersonal exchange; both are manifestations of human sociality, but the emphasis on preferences rather than cultural norms of personal exchange across time too much reflects a limited economic modeling, and fails to capitalize on the fresher experimental economics message of culture and diversity.