Rawlsian Institutionalism and Business Ethics: Does It Matter Whether Corporations Are Part of the Basic Structure of Society?

Business Ethics Quarterly 31 (2):179-209 (2021)
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In this article, I aim to clarify some key issues in the ongoing debate about the relationship between Rawlsian political philosophy and business ethics. First, I discuss precisely what we ought to be asking when we consider whether corporations are part of the “basic structure of society.” I suggest that the relevant questions have been mischaracterized in much of the existing debate, and that some key distinctions have been overlooked. I then argue that although Rawlsian theory’s potential implications for business ethics are more extensive than some have suggested, the nature of the concern that we ought to have about the effects of corporate behavior on individuals’ economic and social conditions should lead us to reject the view that corporations are bound by principles of justice only if, and insofar as, they are part of the basic structure.



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Brian Berkey
University of Pennsylvania

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References found in this work

A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition.John Rawls - 1999 - Harvard University Press.
Rescuing Justice and Equality.G. A. Cohen (ed.) - 2008 - Harvard University Press.
Political Liberalism.J. Rawls - 1995 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.
The Politics of Stakeholder Theory.R. Edward Freeman - 1994 - Business Ethics Quarterly 4 (4):409-421.

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