Business ethics and stakeholder theory

Business Ethics Quarterly 12 (2):113-142 (2002)
Abstract: Stakeholder theorists have typically offered both a business case and an ethics case for business ethics. I evaluate arguments for both approaches and find them wanting. I then shift the focus from ethics to law and ask: “Why should corporations obey the law?” Contrary to what shareholder theories typically imply, neoclassical or profit maximization theories of the firm can offer answers based only on instrumental justifications. Instrumental justifications for obeying the law, however, are pragmatically and normatively incoherent. This is because the modern corporation is a legal artifact. It exists because communities create the legal framework necessary for its existence. Individual corporations can therefore be said to owe their existence to a partnership (what might be called a social contract) between shareholders and governments, a partnership that is itself built on the shared though often implicit understanding that corporations have an unconditional (categorical) obligation both to obey the law and to treat their stakeholders ethically while generating wealth for their shareholders
Keywords Applied Philosophy  Business and Professional Ethics  Social Science
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s) 1052-150X
DOI 10.2307/3857807
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 24,442
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Ulf Henning Richter (2010). Liberal Thought in Reasoning on CSR. Journal of Business Ethics 97 (4):625 - 649.

View all 13 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

34 ( #141,466 of 1,925,098 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

8 ( #107,643 of 1,925,098 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.