Continuing the Social Contract Tradition

Business Ethics Quarterly 5 (2):241-255 (1995)
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Social contract theory has a rich history. It originated among the ancients with recognition that social arrangements were not products of nature but convention. It developed through the centuries as theorists sought ethical criteria for distinguishing good conventions from bad. The search for such ethical criteria continues in recent attempts to apply social contract theory to organizations. In this paper, I question the concept ofconsent as a viable ethical criterion, and I argue for an alternate principle of impartiality as a more appropriate moral norm in a social contracttheory of organizations.



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