The Global Reporting Initiative has successfully become institutionalized as the preeminent global framework for voluntary corporate environmental and social reporting. Its success can be attributed to the “institutional entrepreneurs” who analyzed the reporting field and deployed discursive, material, and organizational strategies to change it. GRI has, however, fallen short of the aspirations of its founders to use disclosure to empower nongovernmental organizations . The authors argue that its trajectory reflects the power relations between members of the field, their strategic choices (...) and compromises, their ability to mobilize alliances and resources, and constraints imposed by the broader institutions of financial and capital markets. The authors draw three notable implications from this study. First, institutional theory needs to pay more attention to economic structures, strategies, and resources. Second, institutional entrepreneurship by relatively weak societal groups such as NGOs is inherently constrained by the structural power of wider institutions and by the compromises required to initiate change. Third, the strategies of NGOs represent a form of power capable of shifting, if not transforming, the field of corporate governance. (shrink)
Recent discourses about the legitimacy of homeopathy have focused on its scientific plausibility, mechanism of action, and evidence base. These, frequently, conclude not only that homeopathy is scientifically baseless, but that it is “unethical.” They have also diminished patients’ perspectives, values, and preferences. We contend that these critics confuse epistemic questions with questions of ethics, misconstrue the moral status of homeopaths, and have an impoverished idea of ethics—one that fails to account either for the moral worth of care and of (...) relationships or for the perspectives, values, and preferences of patients. Utilitarian critics, in particular, endeavour to present an objective evaluation—a type of moral calculus—quantifying the utilities and disutilities of homeopathy as a justification for the exclusion of homeopathy from research and health care. But these critiques are built upon a narrow formulation of evidence and care and a diminished episteme that excludes the values and preferences of researchers, homeopaths, and patients engaged in the practice of homeopathy. We suggest that homeopathy is ethical as it fulfils the needs and expectations of many patients; may be practiced safely and prudentially; values care and the virtues of the therapeutic relationship; and provides important benefits for patients. (shrink)
The Callicles colloquy of Plato’s Gorgias features both examination and ridicule. Insofar as Socrates’ examination of Callicles proceeds via the elenchus, the presence of ridicule requires explanation. This essay seeks to provide that explanation by placing the effort to ridicule within the effort to examine; that is, the judgment/pronouncement that something/someone is worthy of ridicule is a proper part of the elenchic examination. Standard accounts of the Socratic elenchus do not include this component. Hence, the argument of this essay suggests (...) a need to revise the standard account of the elenchus, at least as it relates to the use of that method within the Gorgias. Insofar as a revised account of the elenchus has implications for our understanding of Socratic moral psychology, the argument of this essay also suggests a need to reconsider the moral psychological framework within which Socrates operates in the Gorgias. (shrink)
David Hume's sympathetic principle applies to physical equals. In his account, we sympathize with those like us. By contrast, Adam Smith's sympathetic principle induces equality. We consider Hume's “other rational species” problem to see whether Smith's wider sympathetic principle would alter Hume's conclusion that “superior” beings will enslave “inferior” beings. We show that Smith introduces the notion of “generosity,” which functions as if it were Hume's justice even when there is no possibility of contract.
Two prominent normative theories of business ethics are stakeholder and shareholder theory. Business ethicists generally favor the former, while business people prefer the latter. If the purpose of business ethics is “to produce a set of ethical principles that can be both expressed in language accessible to and conveniently applied by an ordinary business person” , then it is important to examine this dichotomy.While superficially attractive, the normative version of stakeholder theory contains numerous limitations. Since balancing multiple stakeholder preferences is (...) difficult, competing claims often become tests of political strength rather than justice. Furthermore, stakeholder theory has significant normative weaknesses.Although less attractive to academic ethicists, shareholder theory may provide superior results for society. The shareholder model focuses companies on meeting society’s material needs. Wise owners often balance other stakeholders’ views well since it is necessary for the business’s long-term success. Finally, shareholder theory has a strong normative basis in autonomy.In light of this analysis, it is incumbent upon academic business ethicists to emphasize the value of shareholder theory when teaching business ethics courses. (shrink)
In Plato’s Gorgias, Socrates argues that philosophy is superior to rhetoric in part because the former is a techne while the latter is not. I argue that the Socratic practice of philosophy within this dialogue fails to qualify as a techne for exactly the same reasons that rhetoric fails to qualify as a techne. In doing so, I introduce a new kind of Socratic ignorance: methodological ignorance. I reject both Charles Kahn’s account of the relationship between the dialogue’s dramatic and (...) philosophical contents, and Thomas Brickhouse and Nicholas Smith’s claim that Socrates never regarded his practice as a techne. (shrink)
Although the literature on social innovation has focused primarily on social enterprises, social innovation has long occurred within mainstream corporations. Drawing upon recent scholarship on social movements and institutional complexity, we analyze how movements foster corporate social innovation. Our context is the adoption of green information systems, which are information systems employed to transform organizations and society into more sustainable entities. We trace the historical emergence of green IS as a corporate response to increasing demands for sustainability reporting, a key (...) social innovation that environmental activists helped to create. Drawing upon extensive survey data from more than 400 U.S. firms, we then examine how managers perceived environmental activism in relation to broader field pressures for change and how their perceptions of both were related to green IS adoption. The results reveal that activists were more effective at influencing adoption indirectly by transforming organizational fields than by directly influencing corporate managers. Combined with the historical analysis, these findings suggest that CSI emerged out of ongoing interactions between activists, corporate managers, and other influential actors within a broader social innovation system. Activists helped to create conditions for social innovation, but corporations took the lead in developing new practices. (shrink)
This paper argues that the accelerating pace of life is reducing the time for thoughtful reflection, and in particular for contemplative scholarship, within the academy. It notes that the loss of time to think is occurring at exactly the moment when scholars, educators, and students have gained access to digital tools of great value to scholarship. It goes on to explore how and why both of these facts might be true, what it says about the nature of scholarship, and what (...) might be done to address this state of affairs. (shrink)
Although there has been some growing recognition of the role of private actors in international environmental regimes, little attention has been paid to the role of the private sector at the science–policy interface. Because the automobile industry plays a crucial role in mitigation of greenhouse gases, successful policy requires not just the assent but the active cooperation of this sector. Such cooperation, however, requires some institutional acceptance that climate change is indeed a significant risk. In this article, the authors look (...) at the early stages of the automobile industry’s engagement with the discourse on climate change. The authors focus, in particular, on the role of corporate scientists in two U.S. automobile companies in translating this discourse. Acting as boundary spanners and institutional entrepreneurs, these individuals influenced both corporate perceptions of and responses to climate change science. (shrink)
F. A. Hayek is uniquely responsible for his fellow economists grasping the importance of the decentralization of knowledge: as Hayek shows in his pathbreaking “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” knowledge nowhere exists as a coherent whole and to pretend otherwise is a most serious error. Hayek also shares responsibility for the popularity of a strong form of the methodological individualist research program which asserts that since collectives as such have no impact on the choices of individuals, investigators ought to (...) purge any reliance on collectives from our analysis. (shrink)
In this paper, we compare how individuals acquire and process information relative to their scientific counterparts. Individuals rely on a heuristic, what we call 'proverbial wisdom', while experts rely on models. We then examine the properties of 'proverbial wisdom' relative to models. As a preliminary step towards comparing models and proverbs, we propose commensurate idealizations of models and proverbs. We then demonstrate that aggregated anecdotal evidence can improve upon the expert's model-based estimation if the model is not exactly correct. Thus, (...) neither the expert nor ordinary people dominates the other and so we allow for the possibility of the relationship of exchange. Our technical construct - what we call the median of anecdotal evidence - supports the possibility of analytical egalitarianism by providing a theoretical counter-example to analytical hierarchy. Our evidence consists of the sort of Monte Carlo study employed to study estimation procedures in non-ideal circumstances. (shrink)
" "Unlike the scattered works, anthologies, and essays that are currently available, Hans Jonas: The Integrity of Thinking provides a much-needed single, coherent overview of the various fields to which Jonas's attention was drawn, bringing ...
The Greek poets and philosophers, united in a belief that men and women perceive the world around them very poorly, for this reason describe much of human behavior as fumbling for happiness in the dark. By contrast, perception failure is anathema to the modern tradition, as even the most innocent sort plays havoc with modern preference axioms.
I discuss a remark made by Gitta Sereny about Treblinka Kommandant Franz Stangl that questions the role and scope of moral authority, viz. “I don’t know now at which point one human being can make the moral decision for another that he should have the courage to risk death.” I provide an illustrative elaboration from her remark of a role for moral authority and a limit on its scope. First, I use the idea of supererogation to introduce the idea and (...) role of moral authority. Second,I argue that there is a parallel understanding of Sereny’s remark that shows moral authority operative in a similar role in Stangl’s case. Third, I make four refinements to what she has expressed about Stangl, each of which further illuminates the nature of moral authority. Finally, I address objections and consider the implications of my account. (shrink)
I shall argue rst that Wittgenstein’s philosophy—speci cally in his ideas concerning ethics—can help resolve a challenge such as he imagined his brother Paul faced. My argument faces an immediate di culty. Though Wittgenstein was famously deeply concerned with ethical or moral matters, he also maintained that the will was powerless to e ect change in the world, because will and world were wholly independent. But if the will is powerless, then what is left for the expression of someone’s ethical (...) engagement with the world? It is as if, by this claim, Wittgenstein erased ethics, contrary to what we know of his interests and contrary to what I am arguing. Therefore I shall argue second that we can honor Wittgenstein’s serious interest in ethics by distilling and elaborating from his conception of the will as powerless an account of morality that is not dependent on the power to act, i.e., on agency, but which still gives a place for engaging one’s moral challenges. This account is, I suggest, a plausible reconstruction of Wittgenstein’s view of ethics as it is sparingly set out in his writings. The account I attribute to Wittgenstein is of additional philosophical interest for its revisionary implications for contemporary moral theories. An Morality without agency 263 emphasis on instrumental action as the exemplar of moral response can dis- tort moral philosophy. Moral philosophy, I shall claim, does not wait on theories of action or on what they presuppose, namely agency. To support this claim, I propose—following the reconstruction of Wittgenstein’s account of morality without agency—to suppose that we lack the power to act. Then we can see how little changes in the possibilities for moral understanding and response. If an intelligible account of morality can be recovered without action or agency, then there is a prima facie reason to doubt that action or agency is central to morality. I shall proceed in four sections. First, I shall set out Wittgenstein’s view of ethics based on his three central themes. Second, I shall reconstruct his view in a way that makes it more plausible and reduces its dependence on pecu- liarities of his philosophy. Third, I shall use Wittgenstein’s reconstructed ethical views to engage contemporary views. Finally, I will return to the challenge that Wittgenstein’s brother faced. (shrink)
THE SELF, THE INDIVIDUAL AND THE COMMUNITY: LIBERALISM IN THE POLITICAL THOUGHT OF F. A. HAYEK AND SIDNEY AND BEATRICE WEBB by Brian Lee Crowley New York: Oxford University Press, 1987. 310 pp., $59.00.
George Stigler défendit deux revendications importantes. 1) Ce que disent les gens à propos des choix na pas dimportance. 2) Toutes les institutions sociales sont efficientes à long terme. Je démontre que la seconde proposition découle dune considération pour la rationalité économique à laquelle sajoute une préférence nulle pour le temps.Il est important de constater que la désapprobation dune préférence positive pour le temps est un aspect de la moralité traditionnelle. Cela suggère que la seconde revendication de Stigler est tributaire (...) de la proposition selon laquelle ce que disent le gens à propos des choix est extrèmement important.George Stigler defended two important claims. 1) What people say about choice does not matter. 2) All social institutions are in the long run efficient. I demonstrate that the second proposition follows from considerations of economic rationality plus zero time discounting. It is important to note that disapproval of positive time preference is an aspect of traditional morality. Thus suggests that Stiglers second claim depends upon the proposition that what people say about choice does matter very much. (shrink)
There is a difference between the private and social cost of preserving the past. While it may be privately rational to forget the past, the social cost is significant: we fail to see that Classical political economy is a polemic against racism. The past is a rich source of surprises and debates, and resources on the Web are uniquely suited to teaching such wide-ranging debates. Our ASecret History of the Dismal Science on the web, provides a rich series of windows (...) on the literary and analytical texts, and the artwork, that figured in the debates. Students who read Smith juxtaposed with Whitman, who read the Carlyle-Mill exchange, and who see these images, understand the debate the way a student who reads only the Wealth of Nations, Ricardo's Principles, or John Stuart Mill cannot. (shrink)