Prospects for an Animal-Friendly Business Ethics

In Natalie Thomas (ed.), Animals and Business Ethics. Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 67-89 (2022)
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Abstract

Despite the increased attention that has been paid in recent years to the significance of animal interests within moral and political philosophy, there has been virtually no discussion of the significance of animal interests within business ethics. This is rather troubling, since a great deal of the treatment of animals that will seem especially problematic to many people occurs in the context of business, broadly construed. In this chapter, I aim to extend the growing concern that our normative theories should be animal-friendly to business ethics. I consider whether several popular theoretical approaches in business ethics are consistent with taking animal interests to bear on the decisions that business managers are obligated to make. I do not argue for the claim that we should reject any theory in business ethics that cannot count animal interests as providing reasons that are relevant to the moral status of managerial conduct (though I think that this is true). Instead, I proceed on the assumption that many will find this claim plausible, and argue that those who do have reason to doubt that many of the prominent theoretical approaches defended in the business ethics literature are acceptable. My main aim, then, is to show that those who believe that the correct theory in business ethics must be animal-friendly, at least in the limited sense of counting animal interests as relevant to the moral status of managerial conduct in a plausible way, will need to look beyond the main competing theories that occupy present discussions.

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Brian Berkey
University of Pennsylvania

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