International Corporate Responsibility Series

Volume 4, 2009

A Survey of International Corporate Responsibility

Michael Funke
Pages 17-33

Rawlsian Primary Goods and CSR
The Case of PT Freeport in Papua New Guinea

John Rawls defines “primary social goods” to be the benefits of social co-operation that are valuable no matter what one’s life-plan. The benefit for international trade of talking in terms of primary goods is that such goods represent a fixed or standard rate, and thus facilitate efficient negotiation. The difficulty, however, is that such discussions appear to ignore, and thereby do violence to, significant cross-cultural value differences. I argue that an appropriate view of Rawlsian primary goods helps to facilitate inter-subjective agreement about what constitutes an advantage to the least advantaged. I illustrate this in a case study of the PT Freeport mining operations in Papua New Guinea.