A complimentary assessment of Blum's award-winning book about racism and its affects. Well written as it is, it needs to be supplemented with a definition of racial injustice, and also to analyze racism not only on the level of individual morality but from a human rights perspective that discredits political and economic motives for racism (e.g., by drawing on Hannah Arendt's Origins of Totalitarianism).
Business ethicists should examine not only business practices but whether a particular type of business is even prima facie ethical. To illustrate how this might be done I here examine the contemporary U.S. defense industry. In the past the U.S. military has engaged in missions that arguably satisfied the just war self-defense rationale, thereby implying that its suppliers of equipment and services were ethical as well. Some recent U.S. military missions, however, arguably fail the self-defense rationale. At issue, then, is (...) whether a business supporting these latter missions may not be circumstantially unethical. No it is not, say defense industry advocates, for two principal reasons. For one, this business benefits society at large in numerous ways. And, for another, the organizer of these military missions is a superpower which by its very nature is not subject to the ethical constraints of the self-defense rationale. I dispute both reasons, argue against the second, and conclude that the U.S. military-industrial complex (MIC) is circumstantially unethical. (shrink)
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become a focal point for research aimed at extending business ethics to extra-corporate issues; and as a result many companies now seek to at least appear dedicated to one or another version of CSR. This has not affected the arms industry, however. For, this industry has not been discussed in CSR literature, perhaps because few CSR scholars have questioned this industry's privileged status as an instrument of national sovereignty. But major changes in the organization of (...) political communities call traditional views of sovereignty into question. With these considerations in mind I assess the U.S. arms industry on the basis of CSR requirements regarding the environment, social equity, profitability, and use of political power. I find that this industry fails to meet any of these four CSR requirements. Countering a claim that these failings should not be held against arms manufacturers because their products are crucial to national defense, I contend that many of these companies function not as dutiful agents of a nation-state but as politically powerful entities in their own right. So, I conclude, they should be held responsible for the foreseeable consequences that flow from use of their products. This responsibility should include civil liability and, in cases involving war crimes and violations of human rights, responsibility under international human rights standards. (shrink)
Business ethics should include illicit businesses as targets of investigation. For, though such businesses violate human rights they have been largely ignored by business ethicists. It is time to surmount this indifference in view of recent international efforts to define illicit businesses for regulatory purposes. Standing in the way, however, is a meta-ethical question as to whether any business can be declared unqualifiedly immoral. In support of an affirmative answer I address a number of counter-indications by comparing approaches to organized (...) crime and to corporate crime, comparing the ethical critique of businesses studied in business ethics and those socially banned, and comparing the business ethics assumption as to businesses’ ethicality to societal ethical neutrality regarding war-related businesses. My conclusion: to help advance respect for human rights, business ethicists should apply their expertise to the task of defining illicit businesses. (shrink)
Recognizing that probability (the Greek doxa) was understood in pre-modern theories as the polar opposite of certainty (episteme), the author of this study elaborates the forms which these polar opposites have taken in some twentieth century writers and then, in greater detail, in the writings of Thomas Aquinas. Profiting from subsequent more sophisticated theories of probability, he examines how Aquinas’s judgments about everything from God to gossip depend on schematizations of the polarity between the systematic and the non-systematic: revelation/reason, science/opinion, (...) saints/philosophers, Aristotle/others. Post-medieval developments have provided the means to discern within Thomas’s thought both a logical theory and a kind of relative frequency theory of probability. The former depends on Aristotle’s theory of demonstration, the latter on his theory of an orderly cosmos; but each as used by Thomas lead to convictions that are sometimes naive, sometimes amusing or even terrifying. (shrink)
What sort of connection is there between business ethics and philosophy? The answer given here: a weak one, but it may be getting stronger. Comparatively few business ethics articles are structurally dependent on mainstream academic philosophy or on such sub-specialities thereof as normative ethics, moral theory, and social and political philosophy. Examining articles recently published in the Journal of Business Ethics that declare some dependence, the author finds that such declarations often constitute only a pro forma gesture which could be (...) omitted without detriment to the paper's content and conclusions. He also finds, however, that some authors do draw on solid philosophical work in ways that are establishing ever more meaningful interconnections between business ethics and academic philosophy. These cross-disciplinary studies, he concludes, are ground-breaking and invite creative imitation. (shrink)
A drone industry has emerged in the US, initially funded almost exclusively for military applications. There are now also other uses both governmental and commercial. Many military drones are still being made, however, especially for surveillance and targeted killings. Regarding the latter, this essay calls into question their legality and morality. It recognizes that the issues are complex and controversial, but less so as to the killing of non-combatant civilians. The government using drones for targeted killings maintains secrecy and appeals (...) to non-traditional justifications. Most scholars who assess these killer drone practices support citizen immunity, either by favoring a modified just war theory that prioritizes civilians’ right to life or by challenging official deviations from applicable laws. They accordingly declare such killing immoral if not a war crime. The manufacturers of these killer drones are not themselves the killers, but they are abetters, i.e., sine qua non facilitators. So, I argue that any company concerned about its corporate social responsibility should cease manufacturing them. (shrink)
Some progress has been made in recent decades to articulate corporate social responsibility (CSR) and, more recently, to associate CSR with international enforcement of human rights. This progress continues to be hampered, however, by the ability of a multinational corporation (MNC) that violates human rights not only to shift liability from itself to a nation-state but even to win compensation from that nation-state for loss of profits due to restrictions on its business activities. In the process, the nation-state’s sovereignty is (...) diminishing; and, in effect, though still attributed to nation-states, it is being transferred to the MNC. The main aim of this article is (1) to draw on normative considerations to claim that this MNC proto-sovereignty should be modified and (2) to contend that this can eventually be accomplished by adding to corporate adoption of CSR guidelines a regimen of global human rights enforcement. I base this contention on expectations about the internationalization of corporate criminal law and the globalization of civil society in general and of NGOs in particular. I consider various jurisdictions but I focus on US jurisprudence. (shrink)
Business ethicists should examine ethical issues that impinge on the perimeters of their specialized studies (Byrne 2011 ). This article addresses one peripheral issue that cries out for such consideration: the international resource privilege (IRP). After explaining briefly what the IRP involves I argue that it is unethical and should not be supported in international law. My argument is based on others’ findings as to the consequences of current IRP transactions and of their ethically indefensible historical precedents. In particular I (...) examine arguments from political philosophy for more equitable distribution of resources and appeals to property rights as a means of achieving this; business ethicists’ critiques of contemporary resource appropriations; and legal historians’ accounts of despoliation of aboriginal peoples, especially in what is now the United States, involving acquisition via conquest, asserted jurisdiction, and religious and racial preeminence. I also consider relevant human rights’ standards; supportive views of some theorists, especially early modern realists and current supporters of group rights and multidimensional rectification; some de facto incidences of substantive restitution; and proposals for effecting further rectification. (shrink)
Many scholars and activists favor banning illicit businesses, especially given that such businesses constitute a large part of the global economy. But these businesses are commonly operated as if they are subject only to the ethical norms their management chooses to recognize, and as a result they sometimes harm innocent people. This can happen in part because there are no effective legal constraints on illicit businesses, and in part because it seems theoretically impossible to dispose definitively of arguments that support (...) moral relativism. Progress is being made, however, towards a “second best” arrangement consisting of widespread institutional agreements regarding ethical norms. This development might eventually enable us to transcend moral relativism in some respects. Indeed, although some business ethicists who examine illicit business practices accept moral relativism, others attempt to surmount it. The latters’ endeavor, I show, is cross-cultural in nature in that it involves businesses that are deemed illicit in at least one but not every culture. I then recall some traditional solutions and their limits: ideological teachings are culture-specific, hence both temporally and spatially limited; legal constraints, though potentially helpful, are too diverse hence often narrow in reach. Especially problematic are defense industry businesses, which are inherently transcultural and, though uniquely harmful, are not effectively banned in any culture. Harm to quality of life (QoL) can, however, be measured. So I recommend institutional support for international human rights tied to QoL data as a workable way to counter moral relativism regarding illicit businesses. (shrink)
Corporate social responsibility has become a focal point for research aimed at extending business ethics to extra-corporate issues; and as a result many companies now seek to at least appear dedicated to one or another version of CSR. This has not affected the arms industry, however. For, this industry has not been discussed in CSR literature, perhaps because few CSR scholars have questioned this industry's privileged status as an instrument of national sovereignty. But major changes in the organization of political (...) communities call traditional views of sovereignty into question. With these considerations in mind I assess the U.S. arms industry on the basis of CSR requirements regarding the environment, social equity, profitability, and use of political power. I find that this industry fails to meet any of these four CSR requirements. Countering a claim that these failings should not be held against arms manufacturers because their products are crucial to national defense, I contend that many of these companies function not as dutiful agents of a nation-state but as politically powerful entities in their own right. So, I conclude, they should be held responsible for the foreseeable consequences that flow from use of their products. This responsibility should include civil liability and, in cases involving war crimes and violations of human rights, responsibility under international human rights standards. (shrink)
Just war theory needs to become a real-time critique of government war propaganda in order to facilitate peace advocacy ante bellum. This involves countering asserted justificatory reasons with demonstrable facts that reveal other motives, thereby yielding reflective understanding which can be collectivized via electronic media. As a case in point, I compare here the publicly declared reasons for the U.S./U.K. invasion of Iraq in 2003 with reasons discussed internally months and even years before in government and think-tank documents. These sources (...) show that control of oil rather than regime change or a WMD threat was theunderlying motive. Neo-conservatives in the Bush Administration justified such deception by citing an exoteric/esoteric distinction traceable to Plato via Leo Strauss. As with the Iraq invasion, so in general such propaganda and its rationalizations can be undermined by investigative journalism understood as ranging from fact gathering to rhetorical analysis and critique. (shrink)
Not the publicly asserted reasons (humanitarianism and self-defense) but cooptation of oil reserves was the objective behind the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. This underlying motive utterly fails to satisfy just war jus ad bellum conditions. This prioritization of petroleum is well documented and is consistent with decades old US policy towards the Middle East, especially as codified by Anthony Cordesman in 1998 and US DoD's Strategic Assessment 1999 and then adopted by Bush II. This fraudulent use of military (...) force raises a question as to how motives for war can be accurately identified prior to falsely justified belligerence. Some positive signs are noted herein as to political philosophers' better use of Rawls's reflective equilibrium. (shrink)
Scholarly critiques of the just war tradition have grown in number and sophistication in recent years to the point that available publications now provide the basis for a more philosophically challenging Peace Studies course. Focusing on just a few works published in the past several years, this review explores how professional philosophers are reclaiming the terrain long dominated by the approach of political scientist Michael Walzer. On center stage are British philosopher David Rodin’s critique of the self-defensejustification for war and (...) American philosopher Andrew Fiala’s skeptical assessment of the just war tradition in its entirety. Also considered is a collection of more narrowly focused critiques by philosophers and some highly relevant extra-philosophical studies regarding the social interconnections between authority and violence. (shrink)
An appeal to philosophers who believe in social contract theory to revise their thinking in fundamental ways. In particular, it calls upon them to take corporations -- especially transnational corporations -- more seriously in their speculations on the "just state" than they have up till now. Why? Because transnational corporations today exercise de facto sovereignty--a sovereignty that always influences, sometomes equals, and often overpowers the sovereignty of nation states. (Excerpted from Paul Durbin's detailed analysis of book in 2006.).
After the 9/11 attacks the U.S. administration went beyond emergency response towards imperialism, but cloaked its agenda in the rhetoric of fighting ‘terrorists’ and ‘terrorism.’ After distinguishing between emergency thinking and emergency planning, I question the administration’s “war on terrorism” rhetoric in three stages. First, upon examining the post-9/11 antiterrorism discourse I find that it splits into two agendas: domestic, protect our infrastructure; and foreign, select military targets. Second, I review approaches to emergency planning already in place. Third, after reviewing (...) what philosophers have said about emergencies, I recommend they turn their attention to the biases inherent in and misleading uses of antiterrorist terminology. (shrink)
Privacy involves a zone of inaccessibility in a particular context. In social discourse it pertains to activities that are not public, the latter being by definition knowable by outsiders. The public domain so called is the opposite of secrecy and somewhat less so of confidentiality. The private sphere is respected in law and morality, now in terms of a right to privacy. In law some violations of privacy are torts. Philosophers tend to associate privacy with personhood. Professional relationships are prima (...) facie private but may be investigated for cause. Privacy may entail both intimacy and caring but neither necessarily so. Finally, various technology-based means of intrusion are rendering privacy ever more difficult to sustain. (shrink)
American business's fascination with both laborsaving devices and low wage environments is causing not only structural unemployment and dissipation of the nation's industrial base but also the deterioration of abandoned host communities. According to individualist understandings of the right of private property, this deterioration is beyond sanction except insofar as it affects the property rights of others. But corporate stockholders and managers should not be considered the only owners of property the value of which is due in part to the (...) investments of employees and of the host community. The contributions of the latter should therefore be adequately recognized in law. Short-term job protection and long-term planning for leisure are helpful. But still more important is a recognition in public policy of the interests of the community in property owned by corporations. There is ample precedent in our legal traditions for public preemption of private property; but in contrast to much taking in the past, this must be exercized in a manner that is truly for the public benefit. (shrink)
Drawing on group rights theory, author argues that a group organized around a religious motif should neither be summarily excluded from nor unduly favored in secular deliberations as to public policy and practice. To arrive at this conclusion he examines the implications of each of the following claims: (1) individuals need to operate in and through groups to influence government; (2) a political system faces moral difficulties if it is open to group-generated input; (3) worthy causes can be better advanced (...) by organized groups than by unconnected individuals; and (4) this is so whether the cause is advanced by a religious or by a non-religious group. (shrink)
This paper proposes a way to undercut anarchist objections to taxation without endorsing an authoritarian justification of government coercion. The argument involves public goods, as understood by economists and others. But I do not analyse options of autonomous prisoners and the like; for, however useful otherwise, these abstractions underestimate the real-world task of sorting out the prerogatives of and limits on ownership. Proceeding more contextually, I come to recommend a shareholder addendum to the doctrine of public goods. This recommendation involves (...) modifying the public goods argument for government coercion to include a contributor-specific compensation provisio, thinking of contributors as investors, and including among the latter those whose investment is in the form not of a market transaction strictly speaking but of sacrifice. To reach this recommendation I constrain the market liberal''s limited endorsement of taxation by drawing on the (idealized) postcommunist privatizer''s continuing commitment to populism. (shrink)
The U.S. doctrine of employment-at-will, modified legislatively for protected groups, is being less harshly applied to managerial personnel. Comparable compensation is not otherwise available in the U.S. to workers displaced by technology. Nine pairs of arguments are presented to show how fundamentally management and labor disagree about a company's responsibility for its former employees. These arguments, born of years of labor-management debate, are kaleidoscopic claims about which side has what power. Ultimately, however, not even both together can solve without creative (...) public intervention the emerging problem of massive technological unemployment — the other side of the corporate dream of profit without payrolls. (Originally published as "Displaced Workers: Whose Responsibility?" in Social Policy and Conflict Resolution, eds. T. Attig, D. Callen, and R.G. Frey, Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green Studies in Applied Philosophy VI, 1984.). (shrink)
Assessment of U.S. arms industry on basis of corporate social responsibility (CSR) requirements regarding the environment, social equity, profitability, and use of public power. Finding: that this industry fails to meet any of these four CSR requirement. They should, accordingly, be held responsible for the foreseeable consequences that flow from use of their products.
A summary assessment of the dimensions and concentrations of military equipment manufacture primarily in the United States and western Europe and the extent of availability of this equipment to buyers throughout the world. Treaty-based limitations are also listed.
This article argues in favor of modifying the medical model of severe psychiatric disturbances that underlies calling them "mental illness." The key reason for this proposal is that numerous specialists other than physicians as well as non-specialists contribute to the process of assisting a person recover from what the author suggests might better be called "extraordinary functional disability." There is little uniformity in existing definitions under state laws, but all involve three types of intervention: civil commitment; civil determination of legal (...) competency; and standing to be subject to criminal law. Physicians typically make relevant determinations in each of these areas; but non-physicians are the principal care-givers once a determination has been made. (shrink)
Businesses cause social harm, meaning harm to society at large and not just to those with whom a business is contractually linked. Evidence introduced: normative claims that businesses should be "socially responsible"; positive claims that they contribute to social well-being; and negative claims that they are sometimes military-like, causing extensive harm for which no one is held personally responsible. The latter point to corporate survivalism, which acknowledges no mandatory civil responsibilities. Neither law nor social pressure has yet counteracted this mind (...) set. Business ethics might, but not if its practitioners examine only narrowly contractual relationships. (shrink)
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) research has ignored the arms industry, in large part because of political assumptions that tie this industry to nation-state sovereignty. Bypassing this obsolescent Westphalian world-view, I examine the US arms industry on the basis of CSR requirements regarding the environment, social equity, profitability, and use of political power. I find the arms industry fails each of these four CSR requirements. In response to the assertion that the arms industry should not be subject to CSR requirements because (...) it is crucial to national defense, I point out that many arms manufacturers are post-Westphalian entities more powerful in their own right than many nation-states. So they should be held responsible for the foreseeable consequences that flow from use of their products, both under civil law and, where applicable, under international human rights standards. (shrink)
Theorists and activists favor empowering government agencies to regulate technology; but an examination of such regulation by the US government exposes the inadequacy of any such regimen. Vested interests routinely interfere, e.g., keeping administration of polio vaccine in the hands of physicians, political infighting with regard to cancer research funding, advantages gained from noncompliance with military technology-constraining treaties. Public/private salary differences limit availability of the best talents for government positions, nor are truly appropriate regulatory policies easily arrived at in the (...) absence of meaningful funding. Solutions such as a Science Court are unreliable given the influences that would undermine neutrality as well as competence. (shrink)
This year's book award committee reviewed thirty nominated books. We identified seven finalists, each well worth our special attention: Milton Fisk's impressive Towards a Healthy Society, Gary Francione's feisty Introduction to Animal Rights, Timothy Gaffaney's engaging Freedom for the Poor, David Ingram's historically insightful Group Rights, Rachel Roth's poignant Making Women Pay, Karen Warren's finely articulated Ecofeminist Philosophy, and the eventual winning entry, Phillip Cole's Philosophies of Exclusion: Liberal Political Theory and Immigration. We're here today to discuss this important book.
In this paper I will argue that our own society's philosophy of death and dying has a largely negative effect on public policies towards the elderly, and that these policies will be changed for the better when and if we come to appreciate our elderly as the principal sources of our collective wisdom. Towards these ends, I shall consider in turn some basic types of theories about death, some basic attitudes towards dying and the duration of dying, some models of (...) aging as they affect and/or embody attitudes towards old age, and finally the place of creative expansion in one's advanced years. (shrink)
As a way of identifying factors that come into play in determining responsibility for displaced workers, author reviews a number of well known arguments for or against responsibility on the part of diverse actors in society. Key figures in this search for responsibility are corporations, unions, and government. No definitive responsibility is asserted.
This article is by design a response to Alastair M. Taylor's "For Philosophers and Scientists: A General Systems Paradigm." That work is an advance over stage theories. But its focus on modernization tacitly accepts marginalization. Its focus on an undifferentiated evolving human species disregards intra- and intersocietal conflicts. Its uncritical talk of societal energy shifts obscures the reality of conquest and exploitation. If general systems theory is to be truly objective, it should take into account world-around system imbalance and the (...) relevance of Newton's Third Law. (Publisher omitted title of this article and used only its subtitle.). (shrink)
Ethical issues that arise because of the transcendent power of globally oriented corporate entities vis-a-vis local communities. Common problems arise from plant closings and automation, here illustrated by cases of restructuring in Indiana. Public use limitations on "eminent domain" decisions are considered. Then attention turns to the lack of constraints available to regulate decisions made by a transnational corporation. Limited applicability of Rawls's contract theory is noted, then ten real-world space-time situations are reported that involve legally uncontrolled harm to locals (...) due to supra-community control by a corporation. (shrink)
The journalistic device of applying military imagery to describe business strategies is appropriate insofar as businesses implicitly base their strategies on a military model whose origins lie in Social Darwinism. What this involves is an unexamined understanding that any means may be adopted to achieve corporate objectives. Recent workforce reductions are manifestations of this understanding; but so are practices associated with mergers and acquisitions and with government-effectuated takings. Regulation, rather than being overbroad, cannot contain these corporate excesses; and social pressure (...) is an underdeveloped counterforce. Business ethics will remain futile, unfortunately, so long as its practitioners assume a peacetime state of affairs and businesses assume a state of war. (shrink)
A textbook intended for undergraduates. Develops an overview of approaches to the philosophy of man (human beings) by presenting representative examples of major areas of emphasis. Drawing on the social sciences as well as philosophical works, the book presents the human phenomenon as a product of both heredity and environment (the "facticity" of man) and a source of new realities (the "transcendence" of man). Considered under the heading of man's facticity are aspects of corporeality and consciousness; under the heading of (...) man's transcendence, aspects of personal and societal development. Multicultural bibliographies provided. Regrettably, writing style of book is dated by use of male-only terminology. (shrink)
Contra mercantile propaganda, technology is "humanized" to the extent that it satisfies or at least permits satisfaction of basic human needs or enhancements. To assess a technology's contribution to humanization requires (1) rejection of the primacy of the machine (cyborg model) and commitment to primacy of the human being (prosthesis model) in man/machine relations, and (2) insistence on the responsibility of managers for consequences of their technology-related decisions. Such decisions are appropriate in this respect to the extent that they help (...) meet basic human needs rather than artificially engendered needs. Meta-evaluation requires active citizen participation in government regulation of technology. (shrink)
Law and technology , though not equivalent, are intertwined at every phase of a technology's "career." Any technology is directly or indirectly social, and as such becomes a target of regulation intrinsically or in relation to other technologies which it supports or opposes. Competing interests influence major decisions as to which technologies are encouraged or discouraged, heavily regulated or not, banned or not. Examples considered range from bounties to fuel, communication, and transportation preferences.
A description of how microelectronics and robotics are tending to increase unemployment, followed by comparisons between the social policies of Western European countries and the United States with reard to this problem. A conclusion points out the need for a social philosophy of technology that acknowledges workers' rights.
The military-industrial complex (MIC) refers to a self-sustaining politico-economic system that perpetuates profitability in military supplies industries, de facto in multiple countries but primarily in the USA. It is made up of competing and/or collaborating entities -- the maintenance of which is on the whole financially advantageous to all concerned. The complex business objectives sought by participants are fostered in part by exalting technical possibilities but also in part by spreading fear as to dangers that are imminent and can be (...) countered only by maintaining the highest feasible level of military preparedness. (shrink)