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Essays in Philosophy

Volume 6, Issue 2, June 2005
Business Ethics

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editor’s introduction
1. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 6 > Issue: 2
James E. Roper

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essays
2. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 6 > Issue: 2
Susan Anderson

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In this paper, I argue that several features of Big Business in the United States, and its influence on our society, have caused far too many Americans to stop thinking about what is morally right as they choose their actions. An ethical vacuum has been created that Big Business has been only too glad to fill with questionable values that Americans have absorbed without consciously embracing. The time is right, and the stakes have never been higher, for us to reflect on our values and change our thinking and behavior. Big Business and Philosophy each have important roles to play — one because of the power it now has and the other because of the power it ought to have — if we are to improve the moral climate in this country.
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3. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 6 > Issue: 2
Peter Gratton

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With Eichmann in Jerusalem, we have, I would admit, a most unlikely case study for use in a business ethics classroom. The story of Eichmann is already some sixty years old, and his activities in his career as a Nazi were far beyond the pale of even the most egregious cases found in the typical business ethics case books. No doubt, there is some truth to the fact that introducing Eichmann’s story into an applied ethics class would inevitably depict an unseemly analogy between the practices of latter day corporations and the bureaucracy of the Nazi era. My argument here, though, is that the story of Adolf Eichmann, as depicted in Hannah Arendt’s well-known Eichmann in Jerusalem, offers a philosophically cogent account of judgment and ethical decision-making that future business managers and employees would do well to heed. Indeed, Eichmann in Jerusalem, originally a series of press accounts for New Yorker magazine, deserves consideration alongside the Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics, Kant’s Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, and other classic ethics texts in a business ethics syllabus. This is not to say that Arendt’s work is uncontroversial; there are serious questions to be raised about both her depiction of Eichmann and her conclusions about “the banality of evil.” Nevertheless, her account of ethics, which, with its account of ethical duties and its case study of Eichmann’s character, shows both its Aristotelian and Kantian influences, is a warning to readers who would conflate morality with state laws and their duties with the needs of superiors. In short, I argue that, despite her well-known critique of modern large scale economies and her general avoidance of discussions of post-industrial corporations, Arendt may be a business ethicist of the first order.
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4. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 6 > Issue: 2
James Hazelton

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We consider whether public corporations can be ethical, using the notion of corporate social responsibility (CSR). We distinguish between ‘weak’ CSR (where corporate profitability is enhanced by pursuing social and environmental objectives) and ‘strong’ CSR (where it is not) and consider four possible positions in relation to strong CSR. First, CSR is unnecessary – good ethics is synonymous with good business. Second, CSR is unethical as the government is responsible for intervention in markets. Third, CSR is ethical and is being implemented by corporations. We find none of these positions convincing and argue a fourth position – CSR is ethical but impossible for corporations to implement due to competitive markets and the legal requirements of the corporate form. We conclude that public corporations are best considered amoral entities. In order to alleviate the inevitable negative social and environmental outcomes arising from corporate activities, we suggest strengthening the regulatory environment and using alternate organizational forms to conduct economic activities.
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5. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 6 > Issue: 2
David R. Keller

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6. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 6 > Issue: 2
H. E. May, J. S. Wigand

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Pursuant to the Doctrine of Consumer Sovereignty, we believe that tobacco companies should be compelled to disclose their ingredients so that the public health community can make more informed recommendations in order to protect consumer autonomy and sovereignty. However, a recent decision by the First Circuit precludes such a disclosure since it would be unduly burdensome to the industry, while granting only minimal gains to the public. We argue that many of the Court’s key claims rest on a misunderstanding of the science and chemistry of tobacco products. In our view, a mandatory disclosure of ingredients would more effectively protect the public interest, whilst posing minimal burdens on the tobacco industry.
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book reviews
7. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 6 > Issue: 2
Karim Dharamsi

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8. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 6 > Issue: 2
John Scott Gray

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9. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 6 > Issue: 2
Brian Gregor

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10. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 6 > Issue: 2
Apple Zefelius Igrek

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11. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 6 > Issue: 2
Jon Mahoney

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12. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 6 > Issue: 2
David B. Martens

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13. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 6 > Issue: 2
Joseph Osei

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