A number of business ethics theorist have highlighted the potential for economics to contribute to the advancement of business ethics. In response, this article emphasizes the insights of a particular area of economics that could provide such expansion and development. Subjectivist economics may yet provide an effective analytical framework through which to investigate and evaluate business decision making, and hence the ethics of business. Integrating the concepts of uncertainty, time and imagination, subjectivist economic theory contributes to a greater appreciation of (...) economic choice and behaviour. While such notions are often effectively omitted from modern economic analysis to aid formal representation, business ethicists could utilize such concepts more effectively than their colleagues in economic theory. Significantly, the well-known economists who have championed the insights of subjectivist economics have themselves recommended its extension to an analysis of ethics. (shrink)
Originally published in 1949. This meticulously researched book presents a comprehensive outline and discussion of Aristotle’s mathematics with the author's translations of the greek. To Aristotle, mathematics was one of the three theoretical sciences, the others being theology and the philosophy of nature . Arranged thematically, this book considers his thinking in relation to the other sciences and looks into such specifics as squaring of the circle, syllogism, parallels, incommensurability of the diagonal, angles, universal proof, gnomons, infinity, agelessness of the (...) universe, surface of water, meteorology, metaphysics and mechanics such as levers, rudders, wedges, wheels and inertia. The last few short chapters address ‘problems’ that Aristotle posed but couldn’t answer, related ethics issues and a summary of some short treatises that only briefly touch on mathematics. (shrink)
There is an idea, extremely common among social contract theorists, that the primary function of social institutions is to secure some form of cooperative benefit. If individuals simply seek to satisfy their own preferences in a narrowly instrumental fashion, they will find themselves embroiled in collective action problems â interactions with an outcome that is worse for everyone involved than some other possible outcome. Thus they have reason to accept some form of constraint over their conduct, in order to achieve (...) this superior, but out-of-equilibrium outcome. A social institution can be defined as a set of norms that codify these constraints.1 Simplifying somewhat, one can then say that social institutions exist in order to secure gains in Pareto-efficiency. (shrink)
: A virtually unknown philosopher of the twentieth century, Spencer Heath was nevertheless well-known as a pioneer in the early development of commercial aviation. He retired from business in 1931 to devote the last thirty years of his life to his long-time interest in the philosophy of science and human social organization. He developed ….
Originally published in 1949. This meticulously researched book presents a comprehensive outline and discussion of Aristotle’s mathematics with the author's translations of the greek. To Aristotle, mathematics was one of the three theoretical sciences, the others being theology and the philosophy of nature. Arranged thematically, this book considers his thinking in relation to the other sciences and looks into such specifics as squaring of the circle, syllogism, parallels, incommensurability of the diagonal, angles, universal proof, gnomons, infinity, agelessness of the universe, (...) surface of water, meteorology, metaphysics and mechanics such as levers, rudders, wedges, wheels and inertia. The last few short chapters address ‘problems’ that Aristotle posed but couldn’t answer, related ethics issues and a summary of some short treatises that only briefly touch on mathematics. (shrink)
What form does power take in situations of retaliation against whistleblowers? In this article, we move away from dominant perspectives that see power as a resource. In place, we propose a theory of normative power and violence in whistleblower retaliation, drawing on an in-depth empirical study. This enables a deeper understanding of power as it circulates in complex processes of whistleblowing. We offer the following contributions. First, supported by empirical findings we propose a novel theoretical framing of whistleblower retaliation and (...) the role of mental health, which draws upon poststructuralist psychoanalytic thinking. Specifically, we highlight how intra- and inter-psychic affective and ambivalent attachments to organizations influence the use of normative violence in cases of whistleblower retaliation. The second contribution is empirical and builds upon the existing literature on whistleblower retaliation by highlighting how organizations position whistleblower subjects as mentally unstable and unreliable individuals, to undermine their claims. We conclude by highlighting the implications of normative power for the outcomes of whistleblower struggles. (shrink)
Etye Steinberg has recently raised a problem for Joseph Heath’s Market Failures Approach. In this paper we consider a response by Heath. We argue that Heath’s response not only leaves the original problem intact, but also raises a second one, analogous to stakeholder theory’s so-called “identification problem.”.
Society, based on contract and voluntary exchange, is evolving, but remains only partly developed. Goods and services that meet the needs of individuals, such as food, clothing, and shelter, are amply produced and distributed through the market process. However, those that meet common or community needs, while distributed through the market, are produced politically through taxation and violence. These goods attach not to individuals but to a place; to enjoy them, individuals must go to the place where they are. Land (...) owners, all unknowingly, distribute such services contractually as they rent or sell sites. Rent or price is the market value of such services, net after disservices, as they affect each site. By distributing occupancies to those who can pay the highest price, land owners’ interests align with those of society. Without this, tenure would be precarious—by force or favor of politicians. The 18th-century separation of land from state, so little studied by historians, permitted the development of modern property in land. This change is perhaps “the greatest single step in the evolution of Society the world has ever seen.” When land owners realize that they market community services, they will organize to produce and administer them as well, and society will be made whole. (shrink)
In four new and nine previously published essays, Joseph Heath provides a compelling new framework for thinking about the moral obligations of economic actors. The "market failures" approach to business ethics that he develops provides the basis for a unified theory of business ethics, corporate law, economic regulation, and the welfare state.
Do states have the right to prevent potential immigrants from crossing their borders, or should people have the freedom to migrate and settle wherever they wish? Christopher Heath Wellman and Phillip Cole develop and defend opposing answers to this timely and important question.
Moriarty argues that the Market Failures Approach to business ethics is inapplicable to “real world” problems, because it treats “market failure” as a failure to achieve Pareto efficiency. Depending upon how it is applied, Pareto efficiency is either trivially easy to satisfy or else so demanding that no real-world market could ever satisfy it. In this Commentary, I argue that Moriarty overstates these difficulties. The regulatory structure governing markets is best understood as an attempt to maximize the number of Pareto-improving (...) exchanges that occur. There is no reason to think business self-regulation cannot be guided by the same normative-conceptual framework. (shrink)
This article provides an overview of Edmund Husserl’s lesser known account of high-level imaginative empathy. The author discusses Husserl’s solution to what we might call the ‘generalizability problem’; if empathy is conceived as a relation whereby the understanding I have of my own mind allows me to understand your mind, then how does empathy account for potential differences between us? The author also discusses some features that make empathy more generalizable than might be initially thought, as well as its limits. (...) A second major aim is to use this exegesis of Husserl to show a variety of overlaps between his theory and high-level simulation theory. The author also shows how Husserl’s phenomenological theory provides a compelling response to critiques of high-level simulation from authors that utilize a hybrid cognitive science/phenomenological approach. (shrink)
Habermas has argued that many of the endemic socio- economic problems of Western society are either symptoms or prod ucts of a 'lopsided' process of cultural rationalization, one that has emphasized instrumental forms of rationality over communicative. But other than presenting a rather general typology of lifeworld pathologies, Habermas has not done much to specify what these problems might be, nor has he provided any 'middle-range' analysis of the mechanisms through which they might be generated. This paper discusses some of (...) the ways in which, consistent with Haber mas's general framework, rational choice theory can be used for pre cisely this task. In this analysis, rational choice theory is not presented as a comprehensive theory of action, but is employed as a critical- diagnostic tool that allows the theorist to identify undesirable social interaction patterns that arise from a broader instrumentalization of the lifeworld. Key Words: critical theory Habermas instrumental rationality market failure rational choice theory. (shrink)
Heidegger claims in Being and Time that Bergson fails to overcome traditional ontology because his concept of time is fundamentally Aristotelian. On the basis of this hasty dismissal, it is tempting to conclude that Heidegger was not terribly interested in Bergson or that he only wanted to prevent readers from confusing his view of time with Bergson’s. To the contrary, a survey of Heidegger’s early lectures and writings on the issue of time reveals a strong interest in Bergson and an (...) acknowledgement of his importance as a pivotal thinker concerning time. In fact, Heidegger appropriates key aspects of Bergsonism, such as Bergson’s way of contrasting the measurement of time and its experiential origins, revealing that his ambivalence toward Bergson initially arises from concerns about his method and his concept of life rather than his understanding of time. (shrink)
In this book Joseph Heath brings Jürgen Habermas's theory of communicative action into dialogue with the most sophisticated articulation of the instrumental conception of practical rationality-modern rational choice theory. Heath begins with an overview of Habermas's action theory and his critique of decision and game theory. He then offers an alternative to Habermas's use of speech act theory to explain social order and outlines a multidimensional theory of rational action that includes norm-governed action as a specific type.In the (...) second part of the book Heath discusses the more philosophical dimension of Habermas's conception of practical rationality. He criticizes Habermas's attempt to introduce a universalization principle governing moral discourse, as well as his criteria for distinguishing between moral and ethical problems. Heath offers an alternative account of the level of convergence exhibited by moral argumentation, drawing on game-theoretic models to specify the burden of proof that the theory of communicative action and discourse must assume. (shrink)
First published in 2005, A Theory of Secession: The Case for Political Self-Determination offers an unapologetic defense of the right to secede. Christopher Heath Wellman argues that any group has a moral right to secede as long as its political divorce will leave it and the remainder state in a position to perform the requisite political functions. He explains that there is nothing contradictory about valuing legitimate states, while permitting their division. Once political states are recognized as valuable because (...) of the functions that they are uniquely suited to perform, it becomes apparent that the territorial boundaries of existing states might permissably be redrawn as long as neither the process, nor the result of this reconfiguration, interrupts the production of the crucial political benefits. Thus, if one values self-determination, then one has good reason to conclude that people have a right to determine their political boundaries. (shrink)
Evidence-based medicine has always required integration of patient values with ‘best’ clinical evidence. It is widely recognized that scientific practices and discoveries, including those of EBM, are value-laden. But to date, the science of EBM has focused primarily on methods for reducing bias in the evidence, while the role of values in the different aspects of the EBM process has been almost completely ignored.
In Rights Forfeiture and Punishment, Christopher Heath Wellman argues that those who seek to defend the moral permissibility of punishment should shift their focus from general justifying aims to moral side constraints. On Wellman's view, punishment is permissible just in case the wrongdoer has forfeited her right against punishment.
There is considerable overlap between the interests of business ethicists and those of political philosophers. Questions about the moral justifiability of the capitalist system, the basis of property rights, and the problem of inequality in the distribution of income have been of central importance in both fields. However, political philosophers have developed, especially over the past four decades, a set of tools and concepts for addressing these questions that are in many ways quite distinctive. Most business ethicists, on the other (...) hand, consider their field to be primarily a domain of applied ethics, and so adopt methods and conceptual frameworks developed by moral philosophers. In this paper, we discuss some of the salient differences between these two approaches, and suggest some ways in which business ethicists could benefit from taking a more “political philosophy” approach to these questions. Throughout, we underline the importance of seeking greater compatibility among the principles used in normative theorizing about markets, regulations, corporate governance, and business practices. (shrink)
One of the most influential ideas in the field of business ethics has been the suggestion that ethical conduct in a business context should be analyzed in terms of a set of fiduciary obligations toward various “stakeholder” groups. Moral problems, according to this view, involve reconciling such obligations in cases where stakeholder groups have conflicting interests. The question posed in this paper is whether the stakeholder paradigm represents the most fruitful way of articulating the moral problems that arise in business. (...) By way of contrast, I outline two other possible approaches to business ethics: one, a more minimal conception, anchored in the notion of a fiduciary obligation toward shareholders; and the other, a broader conception, focused on the concept of market failure. I then argue that the latter offers a more satisfactory framework for the articulation of the social responsibilities of business. (shrink)
This book advances a novel theory of international justice that combines the orthodox liberal notion that the lives of individuals are what ultimately matter morally with the putatively antiliberal idea of an irreducibly collective right of self-governance. The individual and her rights are placed at center stage insofar as political states are judged legitimate if they adequately protect the human rights of their constituents and respect the rights of all others. Yet, the book argues that legitimate states have a moral (...) right to self-determination and that this right is inherently collective, irreducible to the individual rights of the persons who constitute them. Exploring the implications of these ideas, the book addresses issues pertaining to democracy, secession, international criminal law, armed intervention, political assassination, global distributive justice, and immigration. A number of the positions taken in the book run against the grain of current academic opinion: there is no human right to democracy; separatist groups can be morally entitled to secede from legitimate states; the fact that it is a matter of brute luck whether one is born in a wealthy state or a poorer one does not mean that economic inequalities across states must be minimized or even kept within certain limits; most existing states have no right against armed intervention; and it is morally permissible for a legitimate state to exclude all would-be immigrants. (shrink)
Robert Brandom claims that language expressing pro-attitudes makes explicit proprieties of practical inference. This thesis is untenable, especially given certain premises which Brandom himself endorses. Pro-attitude vocabulary has the wrong grammatical structure; other parts of vocabulary do the job he ascribes to pro-attitude vocabulary; the thesis introduces implausible differences between the inferential consequences of desires and intentions, and distorts the interpretation of conditional statements. Rather, I suggest, logical vocabulary can make proprieties of practical inference explicit, just as the inferentialist says (...) it can for theoretical inference. (shrink)
In the economic literature on the firm, especially in the transaction–cost tradition, a sharp distinction is drawn between so-called “market transactions” and “administered transactions.” This distinction is of enormous importance for business ethics, since market transactions are governed by the competitive logic of the market, whereas administered transactions are subject to the cooperative norms that govern collective action in a bureaucracy. The widespread failure to distinguish between these two types of transactions, and thus to distinguish between adversarial and non-adversarial relations, (...) has led many business ethicists to develop a “uniform” moral code. Yet in market transactions, the checks and balances built into the system of commercial exchange are such as to permit more instrumental forms of behavior. In administered transactions, by contrast, these checks and balances are absent, and thus the institutional context calls for much greater exercise of moral restraint. In this paper, I begin the task of developing an adversarial ethic for business. According to this view, the competitive environment licenses a greater range of “self-interested” behavior, but also imposes its own constraints on the strategies that firms may adopt in the pursuit of their interests. (shrink)
Introduction -- Instrumental rationality -- Social order -- Deontic constraint -- Intentional states -- Preference noncognitivism -- A naturalistic perspective -- Transcendental necessity -- Weakness of will -- Normative ethics.
In the economic literature on the firm, especially in the transaction-cost tradition, a sharp distinction is drawn between so-called “market transactions” and “administered transactions.” This distinction is of enormous importance for business ethics, since market transactions are governed by the competitive logic of the market, whereas administered transactions are subject to the cooperative norms that govern collective action in a bureaucracy. The widespread failure to distinguish between these two types of transactions, and thus to distinguish between adversarial and non-adversarial relations, (...) has led many business ethicists to develop a “uniform” moral code. Yet in market transactions, the checks and balances built into the system of commercial exchange are such as to permit more instrumental forms of behavior. In administered transactions, by contrast, these checks and balances are absent, and thus the institutional context calls for much greater exercise of moral restraint. In this paper, I begin the task of developing an adversarial ethic for business. According to this view, the competitive environment licenses a greater range of “self-interested” behavior, but also imposes its own constraints on the strategies that firms may adopt in the pursuit of their interests. (shrink)
This paper raises a challenge for those who assume that corporate social responsibility and good corporate governance naturally go hand-in-hand. The recent spate of corporate scandals in the United States and elsewhere has dramatized, once again, the severity of the agency problems that may arise between managers and shareholders. These scandals remind us that even if we adopt an extremely narrow concept of managerial responsibility – such that we recognize no social responsibility beyond the obligation to maximize shareholder value – (...) there may still be very serious difficulties associated with the effective institutionalization of this obligation. It also suggests that if we broaden managerial responsibility, in order to include extensive responsibilities to various other stakeholder groups, we may seriously exacerbate these agency problems, making it even more difficult to impose effective discipline upon managers. Hence, our central question: is a strong commitment to corporate social responsibility institutionally feasible? In searching for an answer, we revisit the history of public management, and in particular, the experience of social-democratic governments during the 1960s and 1970s, and their attempts to impose social responsibility upon the managers of nationalized industries. The results of this inquiry are less than encouraging for proponents of corporate social responsibility. In fact, the history of public-sector management presents a number of stark warnings, which we would do well to heed if we wish to reconcile robust social responsibility with effective corporate governance. (shrink)
The recent renewal of interest in the philosophy of Henri Bergson has increased both recognition of his influence on twentieth-century philosophy and attention to his relationship to phenomenology. Until now, the question of Martin Heidegger’s debt to Bergson has remained largely unanswered. Heidegger’s brief discussion of Bergson in Being and Time is geared toward explaining why he fails in his attempts to think more radically about time. Despite this dismissal, a close look at Heidegger’s early works dealing with temporality reveals (...) a sustained engagement with Bergson’s thought. In The Origin of Time, Heath Massey evaluates Heidegger’s critique of Bergson and examines how Bergson’s efforts to rethink time in terms of duration anticipate Heidegger’s own interpretation of temporality. Massey demonstrates how Heidegger follows Bergson in seeking to uncover “primordial time” by disentangling temporality from spatiality, how he associates Bergson with the tradition of philosophy that covers up this phenomenon, and how he overlooks Bergson’s ontological turn in Matter and Memory. Through close readings of early major works by both thinkers, Massey argues that Bergson is a much more radical thinker with respect to time than Heidegger allows. (shrink)
The use of agency theory remains highly controversial among business ethicists. While some regard it as an essential tool for analyzing and understanding the recent spate of corporate ethics scandals, others argue that these scandals might not even have occurred had it not been for the widespread teaching of agency theory in business schools. This paper presents a qualified defense of agency theory against these charges, first by identifying the theoretical commitments that are essential to the theory (in order to (...) distinguish between agency theory itself and certain incorrect interpretations that have been widely promulgated), and second, by specifying more clearly the different ways that agency theory can be used to analyze relations within the firm. The recommendation that follows from this analysis is that agency theory be used as a critical-diagnostic tool, to identify the points at which both firms and markets will be vulnerable to breakdown in the absence of moral constraint. (shrink)