Flatland, Ethicsland, and Legalland

Business Ethics Quarterly 17 (3):433-440 (2007)
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Abstract

John Hasnas’s fine article, “Up from Flatland: Business Ethics in the Age of Divergence,” fails in its stated goal of challenging the mainstream business ethics community’s methods of analyzing normative issues. However, it achieves what is likely Hasnas’s true goal of alerting both business ethicists and managers of the bigger stakes now in play when the federal government indicts employees and seeks their employers’ cooperation in establishing the prosecutor’s case. While prosecutorial overreaching is a legitimate concern that deserves to be highlighted, it requires no qualitative change in normative ethical analysis. That analysis now involves different inputs (greater stakes for firms and employees), but continues to involve a familiar but complicated weighing of shareholder interests against employee interests and, sometimes, a weighing of both against the requirements of the law

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