Discerning the motives that lead businesspeople to make ethical decisions in economic contexts is important, for it aids the moral evaluation of such decisions. But conventional economic theory has for too long assumed an egoist model of motivation, to which many contrast an altruist view of ethical choices. The result is to see business decision making as implying dilemmas. On the other hand, we argue, if one assumes multiple motives, economic and ethical, in ordinary business decisions, a more fruitful model (...) of ethical motivation in such decisions emerges. In this paper multiple motives are assumed to be the norm in a world of large organizations, complex decisions and stakeholder management. An example of a technology acquisition decision, with environmental overtones is presented in illustration of this approach. A method for discerning motives, primarily in terms of behavioural efficacy is presented. On this basis a two step approach to morally evaluating mixed motives in business decisions is proposed. First, the fit of motives with substantive ethical values should be ascertained, and then the efficacy of moral motives in yielding ethical behaviour and outcomes should be determined. This approach, we conclude, offers a much more concrete model of the actual role of moral motives in business decision making. It also signals the importance of moral learning in organizations. (shrink)
Ulysses is certainly the greatest novel in the English language, and one might argue for its being the greatest single work of art in our tradition. How significant, then, and how teasing, that this masterwork should be a comedy, and that its creator should have explicitly valued the comic "vision" over the tragic—how disturbing to our predilection for order that, with an homage paid to classical antiquity so meticulous that it is surely a burlesque, Joyce's exhibitionististicicity is never so (...) serious as when it is most outrageously comic. Joyce might have been addressing his readers when he wrote to Nora in 1909: "Now . . . I want you to read over and over all I have written to you. Some of it is ugly, obscene, and bestial, some of it is pure and holy and spiritual: all of it is myself." Joyce Carol Oates is the author of, among others, them, Wonderland, and The Assassins. "Jocoserious Joyce" is part of a book on tragedy and comedy. Her contributions to Critical Inquiry, include "Lawrence's Gotterdammerung" and “The Picture of Dorian Gray: Wilde's Parable about the Fall". (shrink)
Moral thinking pervades our practical lives, but where did this way of thinking come from, and what purpose does it serve? Is it to be explained by environmental pressures on our ancestors a million years ago, or is it a cultural invention of more recent origin? In The Evolution of Morality, Richard Joyce takes up these controversial questions, finding that the evidence supports an innate basis to human morality. As a moral philosopher, Joyce is interested in whether any (...) implications follow from this hypothesis. Might the fact that the human brain has been biologically prepared by natural selection to engage in moral judgment serve in some sense to vindicate this way of thinking--staving off the threat of moral skepticism, or even undergirding some version of moral realism? Or if morality has an adaptive explanation in genetic terms--if it is, as Joyce writes, "just something that helped our ancestors make more babies"--might such an explanation actually undermine morality's central role in our lives? He carefully examines both the evolutionary "vindication of morality" and the evolutionary "debunking of morality," considering the skeptical view more seriously than have others who have treated the subject.Interdisciplinary and combining the latest results from the empirical sciences with philosophical discussion, The Evolution of Morality is one of the few books in this area written from the perspective of moral philosophy. Concise and without technical jargon, the arguments are rigorous but accessible to readers from different academic backgrounds. Joyce discusses complex issues in plain language while advocating subtle and sometimes radical views. The Evolution of Morality lays the philosophical foundations for further research into the biological understanding of human morality. (shrink)
In The Myth of Morality, Richard Joyce argues that moral discourse is hopelessly flawed. At the heart of ordinary moral judgements is a notion of moral inescapability, or practical authority, which, upon investigation, cannot be reasonably defended. Joyce argues that natural selection is to blame, in that it has provided us with a tendency to invest the world with values that it does not contain, and demands that it does not make. Should we therefore do away with morality, (...) as we did away with other faulty notions such as witches? Possibly not. We may be able to carry on with morality as a 'useful fiction' - allowing it to have a regulative influence on our lives and decisions, perhaps even playing a central role - while not committing ourselves to believing or asserting falsehoods, and thus not being subject to accusations of 'error'. (shrink)
This book defends the view that any adequate account of rational decision making must take a decision maker's beliefs about causal relations into account. The early chapters of the book introduce the non-specialist to the rudiments of expected utility theory. The major technical advance offered by the book is a 'representation theorem' that shows that both causal decision theory and its main rival, Richard Jeffrey's logic of decision, are both instances of a more general conditional decision theory. The book solves (...) a long-standing problem for Jeffrey's theory by showing for the first time how to obtain a unique utility and probability representation for preferences and judgements of comparative likelihood. The book also contains a major new discussion of what it means to suppose that some event occurs or that some proposition is true. The most complete and robust defence of causal decision theory available. (shrink)
The pragmatic character of the Dutch book argument makes it unsuitable as an "epistemic" justification for the fundamental probabilist dogma that rational partial beliefs must conform to the axioms of probability. To secure an appropriately epistemic justification for this conclusion, one must explain what it means for a system of partial beliefs to accurately represent the state of the world, and then show that partial beliefs that violate the laws of probability are invariably less accurate than they could be otherwise. (...) The first task can be accomplished once we realize that the accuracy of systems of partial beliefs can be measured on a gradational scale that satisfies a small set of formal constraints, each of which has a sound epistemic motivation. When accuracy is measured in this way it can be shown that any system of degrees of belief that violates the axioms of probability can be replaced by an alternative system that obeys the axioms and yet is more accurate in every possible world. Since epistemically rational agents must strive to hold accurate beliefs, this establishes conformity with the axioms of probability as a norm of epistemic rationality whatever its prudential merits or defects might be. (shrink)
James Joyce's 'Nonpragmatic Vindication of Probabilism' gives a new argument for the conclusion that a person's credences ought to satisfy the laws of probability. The premises of Joyce's argument include six axioms about what counts as an adequate measure of the distance of a credence function from the truth. This paper shows that (a) Joyce's argument for one of these axioms is invalid, (b) his argument for another axiom has a false premise, (c) neither axiom is plausible, (...) and (d) without these implausible axioms Joyce's vindication of probabilism fails. (shrink)
It might be expected that it would suffice for the entry for “moral anti-realism” to contain only some links to other entries in this encyclopedia. It could contain a link to “moral realism” and stipulate the negation of the view there described. Alternatively, it could have links to the entries “anti-realism” and “morality” and could stipulate the conjunction of the materials contained therein. The fact that neither of these approaches would be adequate—and, more strikingly, that following the two procedures would (...) yield substantively non-equivalent results—reveals the contentious and unsettled nature of the topic. -/- “Anti-realism,” “non-realism,” and “irrealism” may for most purposes be treated as synonymous. Occasionally, distinctions have been suggested for local pedagogic reasons (see, e.g., Wright 1988a; Dreier 2004), but no such distinction has generally taken hold. (“Quasi-realism” denotes something very different, to be discussed in the supplement Projectivism and quasi-realism below.) All three terms are to be defined in opposition to realism, but since there is no consensus on how “realism” is to be understood, “anti-realism” fares no better. Crispin Wright (1992: 1) comments that “if there ever was a consensus of understanding about ‘realism’, as a philosophical term of art, it has undoubtedly been fragmented by the pressures exerted by the various debates—so much so that a philosopher who asserts that she is a realist about theoretical science, for example, or ethics, has probably, for most philosophical audiences, accomplished little more than to clear her throat.” This entry doesn't purport to do justice to the intricacy and subtlety of the topic of realism; it should be acknowledged at the outset that the fragmentation of which Wright speaks renders it unlikely that the label “moral anti-realism” even succeeds in picking out a definite position. Yet perhaps we can at least make an advance on clearing our throats. (shrink)
Moral skepticism is the denial that there is any such thing as moral knowledge. Since the publication of The Myth of Morality in 2001, Richard Joyce has explored the terrain of moral skepticism and has been willing to advocate versions of this radical view. Joyce's attitude toward morality is analogous to an atheist's attitude toward religion: he claims that in making moral judgments speakers attempt to state truths but that the world isn't furnished with the properties and relations (...) necessary to render such judgments true. Moral thinking probably emerged as a human adaptation, but one whose usefulness derived from its capacity to bolster social cohesion rather than its ability to track truths about the world. Essays in Moral Skepticism gathers together a dozen of Joyce's most significant papers from the last decade, following the developments in his ideas, presenting responses to critics, and charting his exploration of the complex landscape of modern moral skepticism. (shrink)
Andy Egan has recently produced a set of alleged counterexamples to causal decision theory in which agents are forced to decide among causally unratifiable options, thereby making choices they know they will regret. I show that, far from being counterexamples, CDT gets Egan's cases exactly right. Egan thinks otherwise because he has misapplied CDT by requiring agents to make binding choices before they have processed all available information about the causal consequences of their acts. I elucidate CDT in a way (...) that makes it clear where Egan goes wrong, and which explains why his examples pose no threat to the theory. My approach has similarities to a modification of CDT proposed by Frank Arntzenius, but it differs in the significance that it assigns to potential regrets. I maintain, contrary to Arntzenius, that an agent facing Egan's decisions can rationally choose actions that she knows she will later regret. All rationality demands of agents it that they maximize unconditional causal expected utility from an epistemic perspective that accurately reflects all the available evidence about what their acts are likely to cause. This yields correct answers even in outlandish cases in which one is sure to regret whatever one does. (shrink)
Following Kripke and Putnam, the received view of chemical kinds has been a microstructuralist one. To be a microstructuralist about chemical kinds is to think that membership in said kinds is conferred by microstructural properties. Recently, the received microstructuralist view has been elaborated and defended, but it has also been attacked on the basis of complexities, both chemical and ontological. Here, I look at which complexities really challenge the microstructuralist view; at how the view itself might be made more complicated (...) in order to accommodate such challenges; and finally, at what this increasingly complicated picture implies for our standard assessment of chemical kindhood—primarily, for the widespread assumption that chemical kinds in general are more neat and tidy than those messy biological ones. _1_ The Received View _2_ A Taxonomy of Chemical Kinds _3_ Atomic Number _4_ H2O, H3O+, OH−, and More _5_ Complicating the Microstructuralist Picture _6_ Concrete and Other Mixtures _7_ Macromolecules, Especially Proteins _8_ Abandoning Sameness of Elemental Composition _9_ Not So Different after All. (shrink)
Were I not afraid of appearing too philosophical, I should remind my reader of that famous doctrine, supposed to be fully proved in modern times, “That tastes and colours, and all other sensible qualities, lie not in the bodies, but merely in the senses.” The case is the same with beauty and deformity, virtue and vice. This doctrine, however, takes off no more from the reality of the latter qualities, than from that of the former; nor need it give any (...) umbrage either to critics or moralists. Though colours were allowed to lie only in the eye, would dyers or painters ever be less regarded or esteemed? There is a sufficient uniformity in the senses and feelings of mankind, to make all these qualities the objects of art and reasoning, and to have the greatest influence on life and manners. And as it is certain, that the discovery above-mentioned in natural philosophy, makes no alteration on action and conduct; why should a like discovery in moral philosophy make any alteration? (shrink)
In his paper ?The Error in the Error Theory?[this journal, 2008], Stephen Finlay attempts to show that the moral error theorist has not only failed to prove his case, but that the error theory is in fact false. This paper rebuts Finlay's arguments, criticizes his positive theory, and clarifies the error-theoretic position.
Bayesianism claims to provide a unified theory of epistemic and practical rationality based on the principle of mathematical expectation. In its epistemic guise it requires believers to obey the laws of probability. In its practical guise it asks agents to maximize their subjective expected utility. Joyce’s primary concern is Bayesian epistemology, and its five pillars: people have beliefs and conditional beliefs that come in varying gradations of strength; a person believes a proposition strongly to the extent that she presupposes (...) its truth in her practical and theoretical reasoning; rational graded beliefs must conform to the laws of probability; evidential relationships should be analyzed subjectively in terms of relations among a person’s graded beliefs and conditional beliefs; empirical learning is best modeled as probabilistic conditioning. Joyce explains each of these claims and evaluates some of the justifications that have been offered for them, including “Dutch book,” “decision-theoretic,” and “non-pragmatic” arguments for and. He also addresses some common objections to Bayesianism, in particular the “problem of old evidence” and the complaint that the view degenerates into an untenable subjectivism. The essay closes by painting a picture of Bayesianism as an “internalist” theory of reasons for action and belief that can be fruitfully augmented with “externalist” principles of practical and epistemic rationality. (shrink)
Richard Jeffrey long held that decision theory should be formulated without recourse to explicitly causal notions. Newcomb problems stand out as putative counterexamples to this ‘evidential’ decision theory. Jeffrey initially sought to defuse Newcomb problems via recourse to the doctrine of ratificationism, but later came to see this as problematic. We will see that Jeffrey’s worries about ratificationism were not compelling, but that valid ratificationist arguments implicitly presuppose causal decision theory. In later work, Jeffrey argued that Newcomb problems are not (...) decisions at all because agents who face them possess so much evidence about correlations between their actions and states of the world that they are unable to regard their deliberate choices as causes of outcomes, and so cannot see themselves as making free choices. Jeffrey’s reasoning goes wrong because it fails to recognize that an agent’s beliefs about her immediately available acts are so closely tied to the immediate causes of these actions that she can create evidence that outweighs any antecedent correlations between acts and states. Once we recognize that deliberating agents are free to believe what they want about their own actions, it will be clear that Newcomb problems are indeed counterexamples to evidential decision theory. (shrink)
What contribution can the empirical sciences make to metaethics? This paper outlines an argument to a particular metaethical conclusion - that moral judgments are epistemically unjustified - that depends in large part on a posteriori premises.
Skipper and Millstein analyze natural selection and mechanism, concluding that natural selection is not a mechanism in the sense of the new mechanistic philosophy. Barros disagrees and provides his own account of natural selection as a mechanism. This discussion identifies a missing piece of Barros's account, attempts to fill in that piece, and reconsiders the revised account. Two principal objections are developed: one, the account does not characterize natural selection; two, the account is not mechanistic. Extensive and persistent variability causes (...) both of these difficulties, so further attempts to describe natural selection as a mechanism are also unlikely to succeed. (shrink)
Isaac Levi has long criticized causal decisiontheory on the grounds that it requiresdeliberating agents to make predictions abouttheir own actions. A rational agent cannot, heclaims, see herself as free to choose an actwhile simultaneously making a prediction abouther likelihood of performing it. Levi is wrongon both points. First, nothing in causaldecision theory forces agents to makepredictions about their own acts. Second,Levi's arguments for the ``deliberation crowdsout prediction thesis'' rely on a flawed modelof the measurement of belief. Moreover, theability of agents (...) to adopt beliefs about theirown acts during deliberation is essentialto any plausible account of human agency andfreedom. Though these beliefs play no part inthe rationalization of actions, they arerequired to account for the causalgenesis of behavior. To explain the causes ofactions we must recognize that (a) an agentcannot see herself as entirely free in thematter of A unless she believes herdecision to perform A will cause A,and (b) she cannot come to a deliberatedecision about A unless she adoptsbeliefs about her decisions. FollowingElizabeth Anscombe and David Velleman, I arguethat an agent's beliefs about her own decisionsare self-fulfilling, and that this can beused to explain away the seeming paradoxicalfeatures of act probabilities. (shrink)
Different versions of moral projectivism are delineated: minimal, metaphysical, nihilistic, and noncognitivist. Minimal projectivism (the focus of this paper) is the conjunction of two subtheses: (1) that we experience morality as an objective aspect of the world and (2) that this experience has its origin in an affective attitude (e.g., an emotion) rather than in perceptual faculties. Both are empirical claims and must be tested as such. This paper does not offer ideas on any specific test procedures, but rather undertakes (...) the important preliminary task of clarifying the content of these subtheses (e.g., what is meant by "objective"? what is meant by "experience"?). Finally, attention is given to the relation between (a) acknowledging that the projectivist account might be true of a token moral judgment and (b) maintaining moral projectivism to be true as a general thesis. (shrink)
The task of this paper is to argue that expressivism [the thesis that moral judgements function to express desires, emotions, or pro/con attitudes] neither implies, nor is implied by, [motivational internalism].
Scientists have been arguing for more than 25 years about whether it is a good idea to collect voucher specimens from particularly vulnerable biological populations. Some think that, obviously, scientists should not be harvesting organisms from, for instance, critically endangered species. Others think that, obviously, it is the special job of scientists to collect precisely such information before any chance of retrieving it is forever lost. The character, extent, longevity, and span of the ongoing disagreement indicates that this is likely (...) to be a hard problem to solve. Nonetheless, the aim of this paper is to help field biologists figure out what do to when collecting a voucher specimen risks extinction. Here I present and assess varying practices of specimen collection for both extant and extinct species in order to compare and contrast cases where extinction risk both is and is not a problem. When it comes to taking vouchers from extant species at some risk of extinction, I determine that those advocating for conservative approaches to collection as well as those advocating for liberal information-gathering practices have good reasons to assess things in the way they each do. This means that there is unlikely to be a decisive, one-size-fits-all response to this problem. Still, progress can be made. We can acknowledge the risks of proceeding in either manner, as well as the uncertainty about how best to proceed. We can proceed as thoughtfully as possible, and be ready to articulate a rationale for whichever procedure is used in any particular case. (shrink)
Taking as its point of departure the work of moral philosopher John Mackie (1917-1981), A World Without Values is a collection of essays on moral skepticism by leading contemporary philosophers, some of whom are sympathetic to Mackie s ...
Facts about the evolutionary origins of morality may have some kind of undermining effect on morality, yet the arguments that advocate this view are varied not only in their strategies but in their conclusions. The most promising such argument is modest: it attempts to shift the burden of proof in the service of an epistemological conclusion. This paper principally focuses on two other debunking arguments. First, I outline the prospects of trying to establish an error theory on genealogical grounds. Second, (...) I discuss how a debunking strategy can work even under the assumption that noncognitivism is true. (shrink)
In his contribution to this volume, Paul Bloomfield analyzes and attempts to answer the question “Why is it bad to be bad?” I too will use this question as my point of departure; in particular I want to approach the matter from the perspective of a moral error theorist. This discussion will preface one of the principal topics of this paper: the relationship between morality and self-interest. Again, my main goal is to clarify what the moral error theorist might say (...) on this subject. Against this background, the final portion of this paper will be a discussion of moral fictionalism, defending it from some objections. (shrink)
It is widely believed that the Divine Command Theory is untenable due to the Euthyphro Dilemma. This article first examines the Platonic dialogue of that name, and shows that Socrates’s reasoning is faulty. Second, the dilemma in the form in which many contemporary philosophers accept it is examined in detail, and this reasoning is also shown to be deficient. This is not to say, however, that the Divine Command Theory is true—merely that one popular argument for rejecting it is unsound. (...) Finally, some brief thoughts are presented concerning where the real problems lie for the theory. (shrink)
To hold an error theory about morality is to endorse a kind of radical moral skepticism—a skepticism analogous to atheism in the religious domain. The atheist thinks that religious utterances, such as “God loves you,” really are truth-evaluable assertions (as opposed to being veiled commands or expressions of hope, etc.), but that the world just doesn’t contain the items (e.g., God) necessary to render such assertions true. Similarly, the moral error theorist maintains that moral judgments are truth-evaluable assertions (thus contrasting (...) with the noncognitivist), but that the world doesn’t contain the properties (e.g., moral goodness, evil, moral obligation) needed to render moral judgments true. In other words, moral discourse aims at the truth but systematically fails to secure it. If there is no such property as moral wrongness, for example, then no judgment of the form “X is morally wrong” will be true (where “X” denotes an actual action or state of affairs). Advocates of this position include Hinckfuss 1987; Joyce 2001; Mackie 1977 (see MACKIE, J. L.). Various forms of moral skepticism—some of which are arguably instances of the error theoretic stance—have been familiar to philosophers since ancient times. (See SKEPTICISM, MORAL.) Error theoretic views can be controversial—as in the case of religion and morality—or widely agreed upon—as in the case of ghosts and phlogiston. It is important to note that error theorists maintain that the judgments in question are erroneous not merely because of the absence of any objective moral facts sufficient to render them true, but also because of the absence of any non-objective moral facts sufficient to render them true. There is, for example, a kind of moral realist who maintains that moral properties are objective features of the universe (see REALISM, MORAL). There is also a family of metaethical views according to which moral properties are in some manner constituted by us—by our beliefs, attitudes, practices, etc.. (shrink)
I argue that one central aspect of the epistemology of causation, the use of causes as evidence for their effects, is largely independent of the metaphysics of causation. In particular, I use the formalism of Bayesian causal graphs to factor the incremental evidential impact of a cause for its effect into a direct cause-to-effect component and a backtracking component. While the “backtracking” evidence that causes provide about earlier events often obscures things, once we our restrict attention to the cause-to-effect component (...) it is true to say promoting (inhibiting) causes raise (lower) the probabilities of their effects. This factoring assumes the same form whether causation is given an interventionist, counterfactual or probabilistic interpretation. Whether we think about causation in terms of interventions and causal graphs, counterfactuals and imaging functions, or probability raising against the background of causally homogenous partitions, if we describe the essential features of a situation correctly then the incremental evidence that a cause provides for its effect in virtue of being its cause will be the same. (shrink)
Bayes' Theorem is a simple mathematical formula used for calculating conditional probabilities. It figures prominently in subjectivist or Bayesian approaches to epistemology, statistics, and inductive logic. Subjectivists, who maintain that rational belief is governed by the laws of probability, lean heavily on conditional probabilities in their theories of evidence and their models of empirical learning. Bayes' Theorem is central to these enterprises both because it simplifies the calculation of conditional probabilities and because it clarifies significant features of subjectivist position. Indeed, (...) the Theorem's central insight — that a hypothesis is confirmed by any body of data that its truth renders probable — is the cornerstone of all subjectivist methodology. (shrink)
Is there a compensation gap between female CEOs and male CEOs? If so, are there mechanisms to mitigate the compensation gap? Extending role congruity theory, we argue that the perception mismatch between the female gender role and the leadership role may lead to lower compensation to female CEOs, resulting in a gender compensation gap. Nevertheless, the compensation gap may be narrowed if female CEOs display agentic traits through risk-taking, or alternatively, work in female-dominated industries where communal traits are valued. Additionally, (...) we expect that female CEOs’ risk-taking is less effective in reducing the gender compensation gap in female-dominated industries due to the conflicting emphases on agentic and communal traits. Leveraging a sample of Chinese publicly listed firms, we find support for our hypotheses. Overall, this study contributes to the ethics literature on income inequality issues, by highlighting the effectiveness of potential mechanisms to close the gender compensation gap between female and male CEOs. (shrink)
Suppose that the human tendency to think of certain actions andomissions as morally required – a notion that surely lies at the heart of moral discourse – is a trait that has been naturallyselected for. Many have thought that from this premise we canjustify or vindicate moral concepts. I argue that this is mistaken, and defend Michael Ruse's view that the moreplausible implication is an error theory – the idea thatmorality is an illusion foisted upon us by evolution. Thenaturalistic fallacy (...) is a red herring in this debate,since there is really nothing that counts as a ‘fallacy’ at all. If morality is an illusion, it appears to followthat we should, upon discovering this, abolish moraldiscourse on pain of irrationality. I argue that thisconclusion is too hasty, and that we may be able usefullyto employ a moral discourse, warts and all, withoutbelieving in it. (shrink)
Colin Radford must weary of defending his thesis that the emotional reactions we have towards fictional characters, events, and states of affairs are irrational.1 Yet, for all the discussion, the issue has not, to my mind, been properly settled—or at least not settled in the manner I should prefer—and so this paper attempts once more to debunk Radford’s defiance of common sense. For some, the question of whether our emotional responses to fiction are rational does not arise, for they are (...) inclined to doubt that we have them at all.2 Emotions, on this view, are fundamentally linked to belief states, as in the following thesis concerning the emotion of fear: 1) We fear for ourselves only if we believe ourselves to be in danger; we fear for others only if we believe they actually exist and are in danger. When we typically engage with fiction we do not ‘suspend our disbelief’, in the sense of coming to believe that the fiction is non-fiction. No matter how engrossed I become in a Dracula movie, I do not begin to believe that I am seeing actual vampires. 2) When we watch a horror movie, we do not believe ourselves, or anyone actual, to be in danger. And so these theorists, endorsing (1) and (2), are obliged to deny the intuitive (3): 3) We are sometimes frightened when watching a horror movie. These three propositions are a version of what is sometimes called ‘The Paradox of Fiction’. For my money, since the denial of (2) is foolish, and the denial of (3) deeply counterintuitive, it is (1)—being a substantive philosophical thesis—that is most likely the culprit. Radford agrees, yet maintains that there is some intimate connection between belief and emotion. For him, the dependence is not the existential one stated in (1), but a normative one: we do not rationally feel fear unless we believe ourselves (or someone actual) to be in danger.3 This revision of the connection allows the construction of a quite different inconsistent triad: 4) We are not rationally frightened unless we believe someone actual to be in danger.. (shrink)
For many firms, a focus on corporate social responsibility (CSR) is an indication to stakeholders that the firm is concerned about social and environmental issues. However, these same firms may engage in CSR activities with the expectation that these activities will increase their bottom line. A relevant, and highly researched question, is the relationship between CSR and performance. The findings are inconclusive, indicating a need to consider other explanations. Several authors have drawn on the resource-based view of the firm to (...) suggest that CSR can give a firm a competitive advantage. In this article we draw on and further develop this research, by focusing on four outcomes of CSR initiatives: strategic disadvantage, strategic necessity, temporary strategic advantage, and strategic advantage. We exemplify this with two cases. The article contributes to the literature by developing a set of possible outcomes, by recognizing several issues which result in strategic necessity, and by suggesting movement between the outcomes. (shrink)