Let’s Talk Rights: Messages for the Just Corporation–Transforming the Economy Through the Language of Rights

Journal of Business Ethics 78 (1-2):247-263 (2008)
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Abstract

Neoliberal globalization has not yielded the results it promised; global inequality has risen, poverty and hunger are still prevailing in large parts of this world. If this devastating situation shall be improved, economists must talk less about economic growth and more about people's rights. The use of the language of rights will be key for making the economy work more in favor of the least advantaged in this world. Not only will it provide us with the vocabulary necessary to reframe such pressing global problems and to find adequate economic solutions; it will also deliver the basis for deriving according duties and duty-bearers - the language of rights is congruent with the language of justice and as such it is inevitably and at the same time the language of obligations. The language of obligations exposes the multinational corporation as one of the main agents of justice in the global economy. Taking distributive justice as a starting point for reflection, a consistent derivation of the multinational's moral obligations must focus on capabilities rather than on causality. This will lead to a shift from merely passive to active duties and accordingly to a stronger emphasis on the corporation's contribution to the realization of positive rights.

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