In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission , the US Supreme Court sharply curtailed the ability of the state to limit political speech by for-profit corporations. This new legal situation elevates the question of corporate political involvement: in what manner and to what extent is it ethical for for-profit corporations to participate in the political process in a liberal democratic society? Using Scanlon’s version of contractualism, I argue for a number of substantive and procedural constraints on the political activities of (...) businesses. Central to this contractualist analysis is an identification of the self-governance-based interests of individuals that are affected by corporate political activity and a method for judging the various assignments of social rights, duties and roles according to how they collectively meet those interests. Together, these two features make this contractualist approach distinctive and allow it to generate substantive ethical results. (shrink)
The “question of reasonable compliance” concerns how business firms should comply with morally reasonable laws that have been democratically enacted. This article argues that, out of respect for the governing authority of democratic citizens, firms should comply with the law in accordance with legislators’ normative expectations of compliance. It defends this view against arguments from the legal, economic and business ethics literatures that focus on the contentious nature of democracy and the competitive nature of the market. In response this article (...) argues that these adversarial features of democracy and capitalism do not limit the ability of democratic legislatures to set normative expectations of market actors, nor the duty of firms to comply with them. (shrink)
This article examines the way that for-profit businesses should take into account the interests of the citizens in the liberal democratic societies in which they operate. I will show how a contractualist version of stakeholder theory identifies the relevant moral interests of both shareholders and citizen stakeholders, and provides a method for giving their interests appropriate consideration. These include (1) the interests that individuals have with respect to private property, (2) the interests citizens have in receiving equitable consideration in the (...) political process, and (3) citizens' interests which give them the collective right to determine the legal and economic structure of their societies. Using this contractualist analysis, I argue that corporations should consciously take into account the interests of citizen stakeholders when there is no other social mechanism for protecting their interests as citizens. (shrink)
In defense of his Market Failures Approach to business ethics Joseph Heath relies on an understanding of business as essentially oriented towards competition and profit maximization. In these remarks I defend an alternative understanding of business that is centered on the creation of valuable goods and services. It is preferable because it: (a) creates less pressure to take advantage of vulnerable stakeholders, (b) can readily recognize “beyond compliance” norms that do not relate to efficiency, (c) provides a more meaningful framework (...) for people who work in and with corporations, (d) may mitigate negative moral impacts outside the market, and (e) better captures the range of what actually counts as business activity. (shrink)
Gerald Dworkin has argued that it is inconsistent with the proper ends of medicine for a physician to participate in an execution by lethal injection. He does this by proposing a principle by which we are to judge whether an action is consistent with the proper ends of medicine. I argue: (a) that this principle, if valid, does not show that it is inconsistent with the proper ends of medicine for a physician to participate in an execution by lethal injection; (...) and (b) that this principle is not valid, and this is because it mistakenly views the promotion of patient autonomy as one of the proper ends of medicine. Rather, I propose, we should view respect for a patient's autonomy as a constraint on the pursuit of the proper ends of medicine, rather than as one of the proper ends itself. With this revised understanding of the proper ends of medicine, we can conclude that it is inconsistent with the proper ends of medicine for a physician to participate in an execution by lethal injection. (shrink)
This paper argues in favor of the _end user thesis_, which holds that the fundamental goal of the firm is to create products and services that provide a benefit to _the people who ultimately use them._ The argument turns on the interest that employees have in work that is meaningful, in the sense that it is an activity worth spending time doing. I argue that a person’s life is diminished to the extent that work constitutes a central feature, but is (...) not meaningful in this way. I argue further that an employee’s work is fully worth doing only if her fundamental aim is to provide a benefit to the people who ultimately use what she produces, and that this is not possible within an organization that aims to maximize profits. The paper concludes by considering arguments that the efficiency gains generated by assigning the firm the goal of profit-maximization justify structuring the firm in a way that does not enable employees to have work that is fully worth doing. (shrink)
This paper examines Alvin Plantinga's defence of theistic belief in the light of Paul Draper's formulation of the problem of evil. Draper argues (a) that the facts concerning the distribution of pain and pleasure in the world are better explained by a hypothesis which does not include the existence of God than by a hypothesis which does; and (b) that this provides an epistemic challenge to theists. Plantinga counters that a theist could accept (a) yet still rationally maintain a belief (...) in God. His defence of theism depends on the epistemic value of religious experience. I argue, however, that Plantinga's defence of theism is not successful. (shrink)
In a recent article, Trenton Mericks argues that psychological continuity analyses of personal identity over time are incompatible with endurantism. We contend that if Merricks’s argument is valid, a parallel argument establishes that PC-analyses of personal identity are incompatible with perdurantism; hence, the correct conclusion to draw is simply that such analyses are all necessarily false. However, we also show that there is good reason to doubt that Merricks’s argument is valid.
In an earlier paper I argued that Alvin Plantinga's defence of pure experiential theism (a theism epistemically based on religious experience) against the evidential problem of evil is inappropriately circular. Eric Snider rejects my argument claiming first that I do not get Plantinga's thought right. Second, he rejects a key principle my argument relies on, viz. the 'independence constraint on neutralizers'. Finally, he offers an alternative to the independence constraint which allows the pure experiential theist to deal successfully with the (...) evidential problem of evil. In this paper I argue that: (a) I have correctly characterized Plantinga's argument; and (b) that Snider's proposed counter-example to the independence constraint fails. Finally, I argue (c) that Snider's proposed alternative to the independence constraint is not a plausible epistemic principle. (shrink)
This Commentary investigates ethical issues surrounding the US government’s attempt to partner with a private company to produce a new low-cost ventilator as part of its pandemic preparation plans. I argue that firms have distinct duties with respect to such public-private partnerships. In contrast to approaches that analyze these duties in terms of an “implicit morality” of the market, I analyze them in terms of democratically authorized plans regarding how to structure the market.
In a recent article, Trenton Mericks argues that psychological continuity analyses (PC-analyses) of personal identity over time are incompatible with endurantism. We contend that if Merricks’s argument is valid, a parallel argument establishes that PC-analyses of personal identity are incompatible with perdurantism; hence, the correct conclusion to draw is simply that such analyses are all necessarily false. However, we also show that there is good reason to doubt that Merricks’s argument is valid.