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 motivation 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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Survey of (mostly English-language) philosophical studies of techology as of 1987. Includes studies of work as affected by technology, the extent of technology's impact on workers, a comparison between the value of work as seen by synchronists and by diachronists and by feminists, and finally some projections as to work and technology in the future.
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)
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)
Ordinary people shudder at the thought that people in positions of power might do whatever they think they can get away with. But that is often the way it is in the real world, and the risks go even higher when opportunity is compounded with impatience. The ways of negotiation and diplomacy are not considered entirely outmoded. But more and more we are being duped by a dream of some ultimate technological fix: that one more fancy gadget is all it (...) will take to solve the vexing problems that less well-tooled folks have been stumbling over for centuries. Our success rate, this reasoning goes, has been limited so far only by the limits on our equipment. With the new super-missile, or the new super-plane, or the new superlaunching system in space, we will be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound-or, what is more to the point, just blow them away and walk across the crater. "Bombs can be clean." "Nuclearwar is winnable." The illusion of omnipotence that accompanies this megalomania is well nurtured by manufacturers who stand in line for contracts to help build some super-weapon. This should not be surprising. What at first glance is surprising is the almost total failure of our commercial media to call this myth into question. This criticism is meant to be sweeping, but I will here focus my remarks on film. (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)
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)
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 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)
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.
An adequate philosophy of technology will not stop with knowledge-claim considerations, like traditional philosophy of science, but will address public policy issues, as is done regarding science via science policy studies. Technology is not merely "applied science" but generates attention to normative issues engendered by technologies. Philosophers of technology can find support for such normative concerns in studies of the value impact of applying science, e.g., those of Radnitzky, Ravetz and Mumford, and such organizations as the Club of Rome.
The process of deciding which books academics submit should be published favors authors who are associated with the most prestigious universities and other research institutions. Some feel this bias could be minimized if the review of academic books were carried out as anonymously as is the review of articles for journal publication. Not likely to happen soon, however, because both academic and publishing industries promote the hierarchy of perceived excellence that permeates the process of publishing academic books. To find this (...) process to be in any way unethical one needs to move beyond individual-oriented approaches and adopt a social perspective that fosters fundamental fairness, equal opportunity, and equal respect. Here I assume these values as I focus on pre-publication of philosophical work in the United States. (shrink)
The globalization of and technological challenge to the world's workers generate profound ethical problems. Suitable solutions will require governments and civil societies to move beyond the modern tendencies to divinize property rights and base people's income eligibility almost exclusively on their work. Some attention is being paid to the issues involved therein so as to achieve better work/life balance. In some places, in fact, resource-based wealth has been distributed to all citizens, even to those not directly involved in generating the (...) wealth. To maintain and grow such arrangements will be difficult so long as traditional capitalist values like property rights and the work ethic remain dominant. Until this worldview is modified, only the independently wealthy will be able to live decent lives without engaging in wage work. But wageworkers' ability to find such work indefinitely is not assured. (shrink)
Ethical questions regarding access to and use of electronically generated data are (if asked) commonly resolved by distinguishing in Lockean fashion between raw (unworked) and refined (worked) data. The former is thought to belong to no one, the latter to the collector and those to whom the collector grants access. Comparative power separates free riders from rightful owners. The resulting two-tiered ethics of access is here challenged on the grounds that it inequitably establishes a rule of law for the strong (...) while leaving the weak in a Hobbesian state of nature. Efforts at legislative constraints are reviewed; but such constraints are found to afford inadequate protections of privacy if a data subject may not prohibit others under ordinary circumstances from using recognizably name-linked data. (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 (in the US and abroad). 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)