Business Ethics Quarterly 15 (1):37-66 (2005)

Some critics raise moral objections against corporate social responsibility on account of its supposedly undemocratic nature. Theyargue that it is hard to reconcile democracy with the private discretion that always accompanies the discharge of responsibilities that are not judicially enforceable. There are two ways of constructing this argument: the “perfect-market argument” and the “social-power argument.” This paper demonstrates that the perfect-market argument is untenable and that the social-power argument is sometimes valid. It also asserts that the proponents of the perfect-market argument are mistaken in their assumption that perfect markets are conducive to democracy. There are strong reasons to hold that perfect markets are undesirable from a democratic point of view. A proper conceptualization and differentiation of the relation between “the private and the public” can make this clear. The proponents of the social-power argument sometimes maintain that the democratic deficit can be compensated for by consulting the stakeholdersaffected. Against this, I will argue that the social power argument has nothing to offer affected parties. Still, it will be shown that moderntheory on corporate social responsibility is not well accommodated to the democratic deficit as revealed by the social power argument
Keywords Applied Philosophy  Business and Professional Ethics  Social Science
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s) 1052-150X
DOI 10.5840/beq20051512
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 70,163
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Capitalism and Freedom.Milton Friedman - 1962 - Ethics 74 (1):70-72.

View all 21 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Grounding Positive Duties in Commercial Life.Wim Dubbink & Luc Van Liedekerke - 2014 - Journal of Business Ethics 120 (4):527-539.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles


Added to PP index

Total views
29 ( #394,550 of 2,506,918 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #417,155 of 2,506,918 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes