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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
The intent of this article is to discredit the much used concept (often unstated) of virtuous violence. To begin with, it is a paradox hence in need of not easily achieved justification. Here author's critique focuses on the political myth of prophetic righteousness, the ethical myth of a common good, and the myth of the infinite, which is utilized all too often to bypass finite systems. (Article sharply criticized when first presented to a faculty group.).
Author argues that an emerging interest group, especially one that seeks to reverse past discrimination against its predecessors in the public arena, is entitled to enhanced consideration as a means of achieving long denied but merited rights. First this thesis is defended by identifying both practical need and theoretical support for emerging interest groups. Then these findings are applied specifically to the rights of women as an emerging interest group. (Publisher left off last word of title: 'Groups'.).
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.
The events of September 11, 2001, have challenged many disciplines and professions, but have they really engendered a philosophical challenge? The title of this book suggests they have, and if so one would expect its contribution to show how the violence perpetrated that day and in its aftermath has challenged philosophy. In fact, few of the otherwise interesting essays do this very clearly.
A positive review of a book about four nineteenth century German philosophers (Kant, Fichte, Hegel, and Marx) who sought to use philosophy to effect political change. To this end they each decided whom to address and how. Their objective: enhance freedom and/or enlightenment. Final topic: the relevance of these writers and their agenda to contemporary philosophy.
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)
Some 120,000 priests have left the Catholic Church in the past 60 years, a third of these in the United States. This book is a personal account of the life of a man who left the priesthood and transitioned into a successful career as an academic. His case illustrates the reasons for leaving that are fairly typical. But above and beyond these it details some deeper systemic problems that he encountered first in the religious realm and then in the secular (...) world into which he moved. Most of these emanate from disparate views about appropriate exercise of authority. Enhancing the story are some poems and a few career pertinent writings by the author. (shrink)
Introduction -- Part I: Religion under secular statecraft -- Rationalist restrictions on public discourse -- Reasonable limits on religious freedom -- The hidden dangers of civil religion -- Part II: State/religion border control -- Religion-state relations in U.S. courts -- Rulings concerning religion-state relations -- Rulings on religion-state relations in education -- Alternative schooling in America -- Part III: Religious groups and the public sphere -- The political importance of interest groups -- The moral need for groups in a modern (...) democracy -- Religious groups in the political process. (shrink)
This meticulously constructed book is as hard to review as would be a comparably cerebral science fiction novel the plot and characters of which have few ties to its readers' lived world. Yet it is intended to apply straightforwardly to the world in which we live and move and fight our wars. For philosopher Kai Draper seeks no less lofty a goal than to lay out the standards whereby to determine what harm done to innocents in a war is ethical (...) and what harm done to them in war is not ethical. (shrink)
Il s'agit ici de la dimension existentielle de la theorie morale de S. Thomas d'Aquin. Pour lui, le domaine de l'incertain est generalement coextensif a celui de la contingence, de ce qui peut etre autre qu'il n'est. En general, S. Thomas envisage la contingence de la meme maniere qu'Aristote, mais dans une perspective totalement differente. Theologien, il s'interesse au monde physique surtout comme manifestation de la sagesse divine vers laquelle il desire monter. Il ne dedaigne pas pour autant les outils (...) de la science humaine, mais il les voit au service d'un dessein sacre. C'est dans cette perspective qu'il s'autorise a "calculer" le contingent. Car, d'apres lui, quel que soit son ideal, l'homme en quete de Dieu doit se frayer un chemin dans un univers qui, a ses yeux du moins, est expose a l'intervention du hasard. (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)