Remembering to Forget: The Historic Irresponsibility of U.S. Big Tobacco

Journal of Business Ethics 166 (2):233-252 (2020)

Abstract

Society increasingly demands corporations to be accountable for their past misbehaviours. Some corporations engage in forgetting work with the aim of avoiding responsibility for their wrongdoings. We argue that whenever social actors have their past actions called into question and engage in forgetting work, an ethics of remembering takes place. A collective project of social forgetting is contingent on the emergence of coordinated actions among players of an industry. Similarly, sustained efforts of forgetting work depend on the continuity of the project through various generations of employees, which presumes the existence of frameworks of remembering in place. We analysed this paradox through a historical case study of the U.S. tobacco industry. We conclude that forgetting work may be a double-edged sword. It might be beneficial in the short run, to the extent that corporations can successfully maintain the public ignorance about their deceitful pasts. In the long run, however, it creates additional layers of historical irresponsibility and may turn into a compounded liability in the event the memory of the collective strategy of social forgetting becomes public.

Download options

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 72,694

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Analytics

Added to PP
2019-11-05

Downloads
5 (#1,211,843)

6 months
1 (#388,319)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Similar books and articles

Getting Smoke Off the Screen: The Smoke Free Movies Initiative.Robbin Derry & Sachin Waikar - 2007 - Proceedings of the International Association for Business and Society 18:499-499.
Ought We to Forget What We Cannot Forget? A Reply to Sybille Schmidt.Attila Tanyi - 2015 - In Giovanni Galizia & David Shulman (eds.), Forgetting: An Interdisciplinary Conversation. Magnes Press of the Hebrew University. pp. 258-262.
Rightly or for Ill: The Ethics of Individual Memory.Alison Reiheld - 2019 - Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 28 (4):377-410.
Paths of Corporate Irresponsibility: A Dynamic Process.Jill A. Küberling-Jost - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 169 (3):579-601.
Professor Raz, the Rule of Law, and the Tobacco Act.Devrin Froese - 2006 - Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence 19 (1).
Strategic Trust Building: The Use of Linguistic Devices to Induce Trust.Cati Brown & Robbin Derry - 2005 - Proceedings of the International Association for Business and Society 16:243-246.
Tar Wars: Strategic Distrust, the Public Health Community, and Big Tobacco.Robbin Derry & Sachin V. Waikar - 2006 - Proceedings of the International Association for Business and Society 17:89-92.
Remembering How to Forget.Janna Rosales - 2010 - Techne 14 (3):273-275.