The Responsibilities and Role of Business in Relation to Society: Back to Basics?

Business Ethics Quarterly 27 (2):293-314 (2017)
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Abstract

ABSTRACT:In this address, I outline a “back to basics” approach to specifying the responsibilities and role of business in relation to society. Three “basics” comprise the approach. The first is arguing that basic principles of ordinary morality, such as a duty not to harm, provide an adequate basis for specifying the responsibilities of business managers. The second is framing the role of business in society by looking to the values realized by the basic building blocks of contemporary economic activity, i.e., markets and firms. The third is making explicit the basic institutions that structure the background against which business operates. The aim is to develop a plausible framework for managerial decision making that respects the fact of value pluralism in a global economy and that fosters meaningful criticism of current business practices while remaining sufficiently grounded in contemporary circumstances so as to be relevant for managers.

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