Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (1):27-45 (2015)

This paper argues that economic agents, including corporations, have the duty to further justice, not just a duty merely to comply with laws and do their share. The duty to further justice is the requirement to assist in the establishment of just arrangements when they do not exist in society. The paper is grounded in liberal theory and draws heavily on one liberal theorist, Kant. We show that the duty to further justice must be interpreted as a duty of virtue that is owed. This means that the duty is not enforceable but that violating this duty is still wrong and not merely non-virtuous. Our analysis has consequences for the morality of commercial life. It is often suggested that the morality of the market is a special, restricted morality that is leaner than the morality that agents must acknowledge outside the market. If our analysis is correct, the duty to further justice cannot be exempted from market morality, even if it is agreed that this must be leaner than the morality outside commercial life. Our analysis also has direct consequences for John Ruggie’s view on the responsibilities of businesses. Ruggie has never explicitly acknowledged a duty on the part of business enterprises to further justice. If our analysis is correct, his view is contradictory in that it presupposes the normative validity of free market enterprise yet shrinks from taking into account the conditions of its possibility
Keywords Duty to further justice  Ruggie framework  Business morality  Liberalism  Kant  Doctrine of right  Doctrine of virtue  Governance gap
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DOI 10.1007/s10677-014-9504-1
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World Poverty and Human Rights.Thomas Pogge - 2002 - Ethics and International Affairs 19 (1):1-7.
Political Liberalism.J. Rawls - 1995 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.
Is Business Bluffing Ethical?Albert Z. Carr - forthcoming - Essentials of Business Ethics.

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