Algorithms silently structure our lives. Algorithms can determine whether someone is hired, promoted, offered a loan, or provided housing as well as determine which political ads and news articles consumers see. Yet, the responsibility for algorithms in these important decisions is not clear. This article identifies whether developers have a responsibility for their algorithms later in use, what those firms are responsible for, and the normative grounding for that responsibility. I conceptualize algorithms as value-laden, rather than neutral, in that algorithms (...) create moral consequences, reinforce or undercut ethical principles, and enable or diminish stakeholder rights and dignity. In addition, algorithms are an important actor in ethical decisions and influence the delegation of roles and responsibilities within these decisions. As such, firms should be responsible not only for the value-laden-ness of an algorithm but also for designing who-does-what within the algorithmic decision. As such, firms developing algorithms are accountable for designing how large a role individual will be permitted to take in the subsequent algorithmic decision. Counter to current arguments, I find that if an algorithm is designed to preclude individuals from taking responsibility within a decision, then the designer of the algorithm should be held accountable for the ethical implications of the algorithm in use. (shrink)
Recent scholarship in philosophy, law, and information systems suggests that respecting privacy entails understanding the implicit privacy norms about what, why, and to whom information is shared within specific relationships. These social contracts are important to understand if firms are to adequately manage the privacy expectations of stakeholders. This paper explores a social contract approach to developing, acknowledging, and protecting privacy norms within specific contexts. While privacy as a social contract—a mutually beneficial agreement within a community about sharing and using (...) information—has been introduced theoretically and empirically, the full impact on firms of an alternative framework to respecting the privacy expectations of stakeholders has not been examined. The goal of this paper is to examine how privacy norms develop through social contract’s narrative, to redescribe privacy violations given the social contract approach, and to critically examine the role of business as a contractor in developing privacy norms. A social contract narrative dealing specifically with issues of privacy is an important next step in exploring a social contract approach to privacy. Here, the narrative is used to explain to analyze the dynamic process of privacy norm generation within particular communities. Based on this narrative, individuals within a given community discriminately share information with a particular set of obligations in mind as to who has access to the information and how it will be used. Rather than giving away privacy, individuals discriminately share information within a particular community and with norms governing the use of their information. Similar to contractual business ethics’ impact on global commerce in explaining how and why norms vary across global contexts, the social contract approach to privacy explains how and why norms vary across communities of actors. Focusing on agreements around privacy expectations shifts the responsibility of firms from adequate notification to the responsibility of firms as contractors to maintain a mutually beneficial and sustainable solution. (shrink)
In this article, we will outline the principles of stakeholder capitalism and describe how this view rejects problematic assumptions in the current narratives of capitalism. Traditional narratives of capitalism rely upon the assumptions of competition, limited resources, and a winner-take-all mentality as fundamental to business and economic activity. These approaches leave little room for ethical analysis, have a simplistic view of human beings, and focus on value-capture rather than value-creation. We argue these assumptions about capitalism are inadequate and leave four (...) problems in their wake. We wish to reframe the narrative of capitalism around the reinforcing concepts of stakeholders coupled with value creation and trade. If we think about how a society can sustain a system of voluntary value creation and trade, then capitalism can once more become a useful concept. (shrink)
Public trust in business, defined as the degree to which the public—meaning society at large—trusts business in general, is largely understudied. This article suggests four domains of existing trust research from which scholars of public trust in business can draw. The authors then propose four main hypotheses, which aim to predict the determinants of public trust, and test these hypotheses using a factorial vignette methodology. These results will provide scholars with more direction as this article is, to the authors’ knowledge, (...) one of the first empirical studies of public trust. Furthermore, the study will enable those companies interested in increasing public trust to understand better respective determinants of public trust. (shrink)
Employee monitoring has raised concerns from all areas of society - business organizations, employee interest groups, privacy advocates, civil libertarians, lawyers, professional ethicists, and every combination possible. Each advocate has its own rationale for or against employee monitoring whether it be economic, legal, or ethical. However, no matter what the form of reasoning, seven key arguments emerge from the pool of analysis. These arguments have been used equally from all sides of the debate. The purpose of this paper is to (...) examine the seven key arguments that have been made with respect to employee monitoring. None of these arguments is conclusive and each calls for managerial and moral consideration. We conclude that a more comprehensive inquiry with ethical concern at the center is necessary to make further progress on understanding the complexity of employee monitoring. The final section of this paper sketches out how such an inquiry would proceed. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to draw out and make explicit the assumptions made in the treatment of technology within business ethics. Drawing on the work of Freeman (1994, 2000) on the assumed separation between business and ethics, we propose a similar separation exists in the current analysis of technology and ethics. After first identifying and describing the separation thesis assumed in the analysis of technology, we will explore how this assumption manifests itself in the current literature. A different (...) stream of analysis, that of science and technology studies (STS), provides a starting point in understanding the interconnectedness of technology and society. As we will demonstrate, business ethicists are uniquely positioned to analyze the relationship between business, technology, and society. The implications of a more complex and rich definition of lsquotechnologyrsquo ripple through the analysis of business ethics. Finally, we propose a pragmatic approach to understanding technology and explore the implications of such an approach to technology. This new approach captures the broader understanding of technology advocated by those in STS and allows business ethicists to analyze a broader array of dilemmas and decisions. (shrink)
Declining levels of stakeholder trust in business are of concern to business executives and scholars for legitimacy- and performance-related effects. Research in the area of stakeholder trust in business is nascent; therefore, the trust formation process has been rarely examined at the stakeholder level. Furthermore, the role of personal values as one significant influence in trust formation has been under-researched. In this paper, we develop a contingency model for stakeholder trust formation based on the effects of stakeholder-specific vulnerability and personal (...) values of the trustor. Using a factorial vignette methodology, we find that Schwartz’s value set interacts with stakeholder roles so that trustworthiness signals of competence and character play differing roles during trust formation. These results inform stakeholder trust research, organizational trust research, and research in personal values. The research also informs managers tasked with rebuilding stakeholder trust in business. (shrink)
While decision making scholarship in management has specifically addressed the objectivist assumptions within the rational choice model, a similar move within business ethics has only begun to occur. Business ethics scholarship remains primarily based on rational choice assumptions. In this article, we examine the managerial decision making literature in order to illustrate equivocality within the rational choice model. We identify four key assumptions in the decision making literature and illustrate how these assumptions affect decision making theory, research, and practice within (...) the purview of business ethics. Given the breadth of disciplines and approaches within management decision making scholarship, a content analysis of management decision making scholarship produces a greater range of assumptions with finer granularity than similar scholarship within business ethics. By identifying the core assumptions within decision making scholarship, we start a conversation about why, how, and to what effect we make assumptions about decision making in business ethics theory, research, and practice. Examining the range of possible assumptions underlying current scholarship will hopefully clarify the conversation and provide a platform for future business ethics research. (shrink)
A growing body of theory has focused on privacy as being contextually defined, where individuals have highly particularized judgments about the appropriateness of what, why, how, and to whom information flows within a specific context. Such a social contract understanding of privacy could produce more practical guidance for organizations and managers who have employees, users, and future customers all with possibly different conceptions of privacy across contexts. However, this theoretical suggestion, while intuitively appealing, has not been empirically examined. This study (...) validates a social contract approach to privacy by examining whether and how privacy norms vary across communities and contractors. The findings from this theoretical examination support the use of contractual business ethics to understand privacy in research and in practice. As predicted, insiders to a community had significantly different understandings of privacy norms as compared to outsiders. In addition, all respondents held different privacy norms across hypothetical contexts, thereby suggesting privacy norms are contextually understood within a particular community of individuals. The findings support two conclusions. First, individuals hold different privacy norms without necessarily having diminished expectations of privacy. Individuals differed on the factors they considered important in calculating privacy expectations, yet all groups had robust privacy expectations across contexts. Second, outsiders have difficulty in understanding the privacy norms of a particular community. For managers and scholars, this renders privacy expectations more difficult to identify at a distance or in deductive research. The findings speak directly to the needs of organizations to manage a diverse set of privacy issues across stakeholder groups. (shrink)
Within a given conversation or information exchange, do privacy expectations change based on the technology used? Firms regularly require users, customers, and employees to shift existing relationships onto new information technology, yet little is known as about how technology impacts established privacy expectations and norms. Coworkers are asked to use new information technology, users of gmail are asked to use GoogleBuzz, patients and doctors are asked to record health records online, etc. Understanding how privacy expectations change, if at all, and (...) the mechanisms by which such a variance is produced will help organizations make such transitions. This paper examines whether and how privacy expectations change based on the technological platform of an information exchange. The results suggest that privacy expectations are significantly distinct when the information exchange is located on a novel technology as compared to a more established technology. Furthermore, this difference is best explained when modeled by a shift in privacy expectations rather than fully technology-specific privacy norms. These results suggest that privacy expectations online are connected to privacy offline with a different base privacy expectation. Surprisingly, out of the five locations tested, respondents consistently assign information on email the greatest privacy protection. In addition, while undergraduate students differ from non-undergraduates when assessing a social networking site, no difference is found when judging an exchange on email. In sum, the findings suggest that novel technology may introduce temporary conceptual muddles rather than permanent privacy vacuums. The results reported here challenge conventional views about how privacy expectations differ online versus offline. Traditionally, management scholarship examines privacy online or with a specific new technology platform in isolation and without reference to the same information exchange offline. However, in the present study, individuals appear to have a shift in their privacy expectations but retain similar factors and their relative importance—the privacy equation by which they form judgments—across technologies. These findings suggest that privacy scholarship should make use of existing privacy norms within contexts when analyzing and studying privacy in a new technological platform. (shrink)
ABSTRACT:The oft-cited privacy paradox is the perceived disconnect between individuals’ stated privacy expectations, as captured in surveys, and consumer market behavior in going online: individuals purport to value privacy yet still disclose information to firms. The goal of this paper is to empirically examine the conceptualization of privacy postdisclosure assumed in the privacy paradox. Contrary to the privacy paradox, the results here suggest consumers retain strong privacy expectations even after disclosing information. Privacy violations are valued akin to security violations in (...) creating distrust in firms and in consumer willingness to engage with firms. This paper broadens the scope of corporate responsibility to suggest firms have a positive obligation to identify reasonable expectations of privacy of consumers. In addition, research perpetuating the privacy paradox, through the mistaken framing of disclosure as proof of anti-privacy behavior, gives license to firms to act contrary to the interests of consumers. (shrink)
Within Science and Technology Studies, much work has been accomplished to identify the moral importance of technology in order to clarify the influence of scientists, technologists, and managers. However, similar studies within business ethics have not kept pace with the nuanced and contextualized study of technology within Science and Technology Studies. In this article, I analyze current arguments within business ethics as limiting both the moral importance of technology and the influence of managers. As I argue, such assumptions serve to (...) narrow the scope of business ethics in the examination of technology. To reinforce the practical implications of these assumptions and to further illustrated the current arguments, I leverage the recent dialog around U.S. Internet technologies in China. The goal of this article is to broaden that which is morally salient and relevant to business managers and business ethicists in the analysis of technology by highlighting key lessons from seminal STS scholars. This article should be viewed as part of a nascent yet burgeoning dialog between business ethics and Science and Technology Studies - a dialog that benefits both fields of study. (shrink)
While the ethics of technology is analyzed across disciplines from science and technology studies, engineering, computer science, critical management studies, and law, less attention is paid to the role that firms and managers play in the design, development, and dissemination of technology across communities and within their firm. Although firms play an important role in the development of technology, and make associated value judgments around its use, it remains open how we should understand the contours of what firms owe society (...) as the rate of technological development accelerates. We focus here on digital technologies: devices that rely on rapidly accelerating digital sensing, storage, and transmission capabilities to intervene in human processes. This symposium focuses on how firms should engage ethical choices in developing and deploying these technologies. In this introduction, we, first, identify themes the symposium articles share and discuss how the set of articles illuminate diverse facets of the intersection of technology and business ethics. Second, we use these themes to explore what business ethics offers to the study of technology and, third, what technology studies offers to the field of business ethics. Each field brings expertise that, together, improves our understanding of the ethical implications of technology. Finally we introduce each of the five papers, suggest future research directions, and interpret their implications for business ethics. (shrink)
Privacy issues surrounding the use of social media sites have been apparent over the past ten years. Use of such sites, particularly Facebook, has been increasing and recently business organizations have begun using Facebook as a means of connecting with potential customers or clients. This paper presents an empirical study of perceived privacy violations to examine factors that influence the expectations of privacy on Facebook. Results of the study suggest that the more important Facebook is to users, the more likely (...) they are to perceive privacy violations and the more likely those violations are to be considered serious. Furthermore, how information is used is more important than the way this information is accessed. (shrink)
Listening to someone from some distance in a crowded room you may experience the following phenomenon: when looking at them speak, you may both hear and see where the source of the sounds is; but when your eyes are turned elsewhere, you may no longer be able to detect exactly where the voice must be coming from. With your eyes again fixed on the speaker, and the movement of her lips a clear sense of the source of the sound will (...) return. This ‘ventriloquist’ effect reflects the ways in which visual cognition can dominate auditory perception. And this phenomenological observation is one what you can verify or disconfirm in your own case just by the slightest reflection on what it is like for you to listen to someone with or without visual contact with them. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to set out some of the ontologies amongst which some forms of anti-realism must select. This provides the appropriate setting for presenting an alternative realist ontology. The argument is that the choice between the varieties of anti-realism and realism is inevitably a choice between ontologies.
‘Marital faithfulness’ refers to faithful love for a spouse or lover to whom one is committed, rather than the narrower idea of sexual fidelity. The distinction is clearly marked in traditional wedding vows. A commitment to love faithfully is central: ‘to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part… and thereto I plight [pledge] thee my troth [faithfulness]’. (...) Sexual fidelity is promised in a subordinate clause, symbolizing its supportive role in promoting love's constancy: ‘and, forsaking all other, keep thee only unto her/him.’. (shrink)
Does anyone ever survive his or her bodily death ? Could anyone? No speculative questions are older than these, or have been answered more frequently or more variously. None have been laid to rest more often, or — in our times — with more claimed decisiveness. Jay Rosenberg, for instance, no doubt speaks for many contemporary philosophers when he claims, in his recent book, to have ‘ demonstrated ’ that ‘ we cannot [even] make coherent sense of the supposed possibility (...) that a person's history might continue beyond that person's [bodily] death’. (shrink)
In ‘ The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy ’ Laurence Sterne writes: That of all the several ways of beginning a book which are now in practice throughout the known world, I am confident my own way of doing it is the best—I'm sure it is the most religious—for I begin with writing the first sentence—and trusting to Almighty God for the second.
Q: If necessity is the mother of invention, whence necessity? A. : The matrix of necessity in God-talk is religious experience, philosophically interpreted. The interpreters, theists and non-thesists, have indeed been inventive.
In Chapters 6 and 7 of Language, Truth and Poetry I attempted to solve the ancient problem of fictional reference by claiming that a fictional construct ‘points’ or refers to certain features of reality in rather the same way as an abstraction like ‘gravitation’ or ‘cruelty’ does. I now believe that this theory of mine is unsatisfactory; and I should like to propose a new solution to the problem.
The standard foil for recent theories of hope is the belief-desire analysis advocated by Hobbes, Day, Downie, and others. According to this analysis, to hope for S is no more and no less than to desire S while believing S is possible but not certain. Opponents of the belief-desire analysis argue that it fails to capture one or another distinctive feature or function of hope: that hope helps one resist the temptation to despair;2 that hope engages the sophisticated capacities of (...) human agency, such as planning;3 or that hope involves the imagination in ways desire need not.4 Here, I focus on the role of imagination in hope, and discuss its implications for hope’s relation to practical commitment or end-setting. (shrink)