The moral philosophy of Levinas offers a stark prospectus of impossibility for corporate ethics. It differs from most traditional ethical theories in that, for Levinas, the ethical develops in a personal meeting of one with the Other, rather than residing in some internal deliberation of the moral subject. Levinasian ethics emphasizes an infinite personal responsibility arising for each of us in the face of the Other and in the presence of the Third. It stresses the imperious demand we experience to (...) be open to, prepared for and impassioned with that which we may not know, or recognize, about ourselves or about the Other. Such a demand transcends our intellectual and/or rational potential; it involves us in a carnal and somatic bodily experience of otherness. If we are to speak of Levinasian ethics in a business context, it cannot be a matter of corporate ethics but only a matter of individual managerial ethics. What such an ethics would be like is yet to be outlined. This paper proposes a series of questions and suggestions that will explicate some key terms of a practice organized around a Levinasian vocabulary of otherness, responsibility, proximity, diachrony and justice. (shrink)
The moral philosophy of Levinas offers a stark prospectus of impossibility for corporate ethics. It differs from most traditional ethical theories in that, for Levinas, the ethical develops in a personal meeting of one with the Other, rather than residing in some internal deliberation of the moral subject. Levinasian ethics emphasises an infinite personal responsibility arising for each of us in the face of the Other and in the presence of the Third. It stresses the imperious demand we experience to (...) be open to, prepared for and impassioned with that which we may not know, or recognise, about ourselves or about the Other. Such a demand transcends our intellectual and/or rational potential; it involves us in a carnal and somatic bodily experience of otherness. If we are to speak of Levinasian ethics in a business context, it cannot be a matter of corporate ethics but only a matter of individual managerial ethics. What such an ethics would be like is yet to be outlined. This paper proposes a series of questions and suggestions that will explicate some key terms of a practice organised around a Levinasian vocabulary of otherness, responsibility, proximity, diachrony and justice. (shrink)
This paper builds on London and Hart’s critique that Prahalad’s best-selling book prompted a unilateral effort to find a fortune at the bottom of the pyramid. Prahalad’s instrumental, firm-centered construction suggests, perhaps unintentionally, a buccaneering style of business enterprise devoted to capturing markets rather than enabling new socially entrepreneurial ventures for those otherwise trapped in conditions of extreme poverty. London and Hart reframe Prahalad’s insight into direct global business enterprise toward “creating a fortune with the base of the pyramid” rather (...) than at the BoP. This shift in language requires a recalibration of strategic focus, we argue, and will necessitate implementation of “moral imagination” to formulate new mental models that can frame the possibility of local entrepreneurs working collaboratively and discursively with development partners drawn from civil society, corporate, and government sectors. Successful partnerships will arise from interactive processes of emergent, co-creative learning within a shared problem domain or “community of practice”. We call attention to three related pluralist framings of situated learning within such communities of practice: decentered stakeholder networks; global action networks; and a focus on “faces and places” as a cognitive lens to humanize and locally situate diverse inhabitants within base of the pyramid partnership projects. (shrink)
In this paper we reconsider Adam Smith’s ethics, what he means by self-interest and the role this plays in the famous “invisible hand.” Our efforts focus in part on the misreading of “the invisible hand” by certain economists with a view to legitimizing their neoclassical economic paradigm. Through exegesis and by reference to notions that are developed in Smith’s two major works, we deconstruct Smith’s ideas of conscience, justice, self-interest, and the invisible hand. We amplify Smith’s insistence, through his notions (...) of the virtues, that as human beings, and by analogy, organizations, we are intrinsically social, rather than selfish and or egoistically self-centered. Thus, we have responsibilities to and because of others. We conclude that such a managerialist preoccupation with shareholder value is challenged, if not completely refuted, by taking seriously the social character of Smith’s complex vision of commerce. (shrink)
In this paper we set out to explore the claims that corporate social responsibility (CSR) itself is little more than a complementary extension of the project of coloniality initiated by the Enlightenment (e.g. Banerjee 2019). We will not dispute that claim. Rather we will develop three points. First, we will apply a non-linear, systems approach to demonstrate how we all, of any color, ethnic origin or historical location are all part of an interconnected interrelated sets of systems—what some thinkers call (...) a complex adaptive system or systems (e.g., Miller and Page 2007) so that dismissing or degrading any particular ethnic, gender, or racial group is dismissing part of our history and origin. Secondly, we will argue that Enlightenment, coloniality, as well as neo-coloniality, and decoloniality sprung up from the Enlightenment projects themselves. Thus, the very critiques of Enlightenment, accurate as they may be, evolved from that perspective and have to be taken into account even in those critiques. Third, what appears to be an “either-or” – that is, that commerce should stick to business and not engage in political activities (forms of neocolonialism) or accept these business-political activities despite critiques – is not a simple choice. Rather, conceding that commerce and political systems cannot be nicely separated, we will provide some principles or ways to evaluate these activities, seemingly ubiquitous particularly in emerging economies. (shrink)
This volume brings together a selection of papers written by Patricia Werhane during the most recent quarter century. The book critically explicates the direction and development of Werhane’s thinking based on her erudite and eclectic sampling of orthodox philosophical theories. It starts out with an introductory chapter setting Werhane’s work in the context of the development of Business Ethics theory and practice, along with an illustrative time line. Next, it discusses possible interpretations of the papers that have been divided across (...) a range of themes, and examines Werhane’s contribution to these thematic areas. Patricia H. Werhane is a renowned author and innovator at the intersection of philosophy and Applied Business Ethics. She is professor emerita and a senior fellow at the Olsson Centre for Applied Ethics at Darden and was formerly the Ruffin Professor of Business Ethics. She is also professor emerita at DePaul University, where she was Wicklander Chair in Business Ethics and director of the Institute for Business and Professional Ethics. A prolific author whose works include Moral Imagination and Management Decision-Making and Organization Ethics for Health Care, Werhane is an acclaimed authority on employee rights in the workplace, one of the leading scholars on Adam Smith and founder and former editor-in-chief of Business Ethics Quarterly, the leading journal of Business Ethics. She was a founding member and past president of the Society for Business Ethics and, in 2001, was elected to the executive committee of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics. Before joining the Darden faculty in 1993, Werhane served on the faculty of Loyola University Chicago and was a Rockefeller Fellow at Dartmouth College and Senior Fellow at Cambridge University. (shrink)
I am grateful to the Editors of for the opportunity to respond to the address given by Steve Williams at the Vincentian Conference of 2013, and published in the preceding pages. Mr. Williams takes the 2008 crisis of Western capitalism as his focus and offers at least two distinct narratives: in the first of these he outlines his experience of an extensive and complex professional, commercial world in. In a more extensive, second theme he offers some constructive suggestions as a (...) means to recovering from this cataclysm and moving away those characteristics which he identifies as somehow causal. I will interpretively retrace Mr. Williams’s insights of the recent financial crisis. I will also comment on the challenges he outlines towards a resolution of this crisis. I draw on selected business and professional ethics positions, along with my personal experience of management practice and the pedagogy of business ethics in Western Management Schools. I delimit this appreciation of market capitalism as the systemic dominant social paradigm, the status quo. (shrink)
In this article we reconsider strands of Adam Smith’s contribution to the project of the Enlightenment. Many of these, as we shall identify, remain poignant, and valuable observations for the twenty-first century. This sampled reconsideration touches both on how Smith is identified, as well as occasionally misread, as an Enlightenment philosopher/economist; and the extent to which t/his enlightenment survives.