Reasoned Moral Agreement: Applying Discourse Ethics within Organizations

Business Ethics Quarterly 19 (1):33-56 (2009)
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Abstract

ABSTRACT:Whether at the executive or the line-management levels, businesspeople face moral decisions that cannot be easily resolved with reference to a shared ethos, whether because of diversity of ethea in the organization or its environment, or because the organization's ethos is inadequate for the problem at hand. These decisions are made more common by the changing norms of a pluralistic business environment, and require collective moral deliberation to be adequately resolved. Discourse ethics ideally characterizes the form of valid collective moral deliberation. I argue that accommodation for the limitations of actual discourse makes discourse ethics, conceived in terms of the rules of practical discourse, practical for realizing improvements in the openness and validity of moral decision-making over states in which these rules are flagrantly violated. These rules have normative implications at the organizational level for the integrity approach to corporate ethics programs, and at the individual level for ethical leadership.

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