Journal of Business Ethics 93 (3):357 - 371 (2010)

This article examines the relation between policies concerning Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and philosophical moral theories. The objective is to determine which moral theories form the basis for CSR policies. Are they based on ethical egoism, libertarianism, utilitarianism or some kind of common-sense morality? In order to address this issue, I conducted an empirical investigation examining the relation between moral theories and CSR policies, in companies engaged in CSR. Based on the empirical data I collected, I start by suggesting some normative arguments used by the respondents. Secondly, I suggest that these moral arguments implicitly rely on some specific moral principles, which I characterise. Thirdly, on the basis of these moral principles, I suggest the moral theories upon which the CSR policies are built. Previous empirical studies examining the relation between philosophical moral theories and the ethical content of business activities have mainly concentrated on the ethical decision-making of managers. Some of the most prominent investigations in that regard propose that managers mainly act in accordance with utilitarian moral theory (Fritzsche, D. J. and H. Becker: 1984 , Academy of Management Journal 27 (1), 166–175; Premeaux, S. and W. Mony: 1993 , Journal of Business Ethics 12 , 349–357; Premeaux, S.: 2004 , Journal of Business Ethics 52 , 269–278). I conclude that CSR policies are not based on utilitarian thinking, but instead, on some kind of common-sense morality. The ethical foundation of companies engaged in CSR, thus, does not mirror the ethical foundation of managers.
Keywords common-sense morality  CSR policies  ethical egoism  libertarianism  philosophical moral theories  utilitarianism
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DOI 10.1007/s10551-009-0226-6
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References found in this work BETA

Famine, Affluence, and Morality.Peter Singer - 1972 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (3):229-243.
Famine, Affluence, and Morality.Peter Singer - 1972 - Oxford University Press USA.
The Limits of Morality.Shelly Kagan - 1989 - Oxford University Press.
The Problem of Global Justice.Thomas Nagel - 2005 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 33 (2):113-147.

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