Drawing on a small sample of writings from distinguished philosophers and poets living in the Middle East in the period from the eighth to the first century BCE, it is shown that a variety of business practices provided familiar examples of how people ought to act and live, morally speaking, to enjoy the best sort of life and to be the best sort of person. The writings reveal that we share a common heritage and humanity with people living 20 to (...) 28 hundred years ago, and that some of the observations are as important and useful today as they were when they were originally made. (shrink)
The theses supported in this essay are that the world is to some extent constructed by each of us, that it can and ought to be constructed in a more benign way, that such construction will require more trust than most people are currently willing to grant, and that most of us will be better off if most of us can manage to be more trusting in spite of our doubts.
Nine issues of fundamental importance for business ethics are examined with a view to encouraging researchers in the field to direct their attention to them in the 1990s and beyond. The issues are related to organized labour, social dumping, international finance and Third World debt, tobacco promotion, arms trade, wealth concentration and taxation, pollution and resource depletion, international trading blocks, and the Canadian Business Council on National Issues and other business organizations.
Among other interesting claims made in Robert Reich's 2007 treatise, Supercapitalism, it is asserted in various ways that proponents of corporate social responsibility (CSR) or what I would call 'business ethics' are engaged in relatively unproductive exercises. Their resources would be better used if they undertook the hard work of engagement in democratic political processes leading to legislation that would force corporations to pursue the public interest as well as their own. In this article, I summarize some of Reich's central (...) theses and arguments, show that they are fatally flawed and explain why the institution of morality is essential for business, law and democracy. (shrink)
A rule for the acceptance of scientific hypotheses called 'the principle of cost-benefit dominance' is shown to be more effective and efficient than the well-known principle of the maximization of expected utility. Harvey 's defense of his theory of the circulation of blood in animals is examined as a historical paradigm case of a successful defense of a scientific hypothesis and as an implicit application of the cost-benefit dominance rule advocated here. Finally, various concepts of 'dominance' are considered by means (...) of which the effectiveness of our rule may be increased. (shrink)
The postulates of rational preference suggested by Von Neumann and Morgenstern have been defended as descriptive or empirical generalizations and as normative principles. It is argued that the postulates are inaccurate empirical generalizations and unacceptable normative principles.
The aim of this paper is to critically evaluate the thesis that ethics counselors constitute a new priesthood in the pejorative sense of this term. In defense of the thesis, an account is given of the diverse variety of fundamental ideas about ethics or morality. The underlying argument is simply that there is such a diversity of opinion about so many fundamental issues that most ethical appraisals, especially in committees, are probably very shallow and barely warranted. Following this negative work, (...) an attempt is made to try to find some positive benefits from the work of ethics counselors. Some potential benefits are identified, but there is a need for empirical research in order to construct a more persuasive case for such work. In the penultimate section of the paper I addressed some of my own second thoughts about the discussion and some provocative suggestions that friends gave me about earlier drafts. (shrink)
This article examines and assesses Bernard Hodgson’s critique of the Neoclassical concept of rationality and its place in the literature. It is argued that Hodgson’s Trojan horse critique is superior to the others because it addresses the role of empiricist epistemology in reducing reason to instrumental rationality and consequent disappearance of the human subject of political economy. The second phase of the empiricist level of analysis reintroduces the capacities for ethical deliberation, self-determination, and the socio-historical conditions and institutional setting of (...) the economic agent. Because Hodgson’s solutions presuppose empiricist terrain, they are arbitrary. This occurs because the fundamental problem of Neoclassical rationality is its ontology. Yet by introducing the human subject into economic theory, Hodgson’s solutions move onto an ontological terrain adequate for economic analysis of human subjects. (shrink)
Commercial public opinion polling is an increasingly important element in practically all elections in democratic countries around the world. Poll results and pollsters are relatively new and autonomous voices in our human communities. Here I try to connect such polling directly to morality and democratic processes. Several arguments have been and might be used for and against banning such polling during elections, i.e., for and against effectively silencing these voices. I present the arguments on both sides of this issue, and (...) try to show that there are reasonable responses to all the arguments in favour of banning polls. Then I review some proposed Canadian legislation concerning banning polls and, alternatively, requiring disclosure of methodological features of polls. Finally, I offer a model set of disclosure standards for the publication of poll results during election campaigns. (shrink)
In celebration of Einstein's remarkable achievements in 1905, this essay examines some of his views on the role of “intellectuals” in developing and advocating socio-economic and political positions and policies, the historical roots of his ethical views and certain aspects of his philosophy of science. As an outstanding academic and public citizen, his life and ideas continue to provide good examples of a life well-used and worth remembering.
It is argued that by explicating rationality in terms of benefits balancing or outweighing costs instead of in terms of maximizing or satisficing something, a more adequate view of rationality is obtained.