This paper critically assesses existing accounts of the nature of difficulty, finds them wanting, and proposes a new account. The concept of difficulty is routinely invoked in debates regarding degrees of moral responsibility, and the value of achievement. Until recently, however, there has not been any sustained attempt to provide an account of the nature of difficulty itself. This has changed with Gwen Bradford’s Achievement, which argues that difficulty is a matter of how much intense effort is expended. But while (...) this account captures something important about the relationship between difficulty and achievement, it fails to account for the fact that part of what makes achievements great is that they are difficult in a moderately agent-neutral kind of way. Nor is this thought captured by any other extant account. I argue that to fill this gap we should think of difficulty in terms of low probability of success. (shrink)
Achievements have recently begun to attract increased attention from value theorists. One recurring idea in this budding literature is that one important factor determining the magnitude or value of an achievement is the amount of effort the achiever invested. The aim of this paper is to present the most plausible version of this idea. This advances the current state of debate where authors are invoking substantially different notions of effort and are thus talking past each other. While the concept of (...) effort has been invoked in the philosophical analysis of a number of important concepts such as desert, attention, competence, and distributive justice, it has hardly ever been analyzed itself. This paper makes headway in this regard by discussing three ambiguities in the everyday notion of effort. It continues to develop two accounts of effort and shows how both of them are achievement-enhancing. (shrink)
According to the Market Failures Approach to business ethics, beyond-compliance duties can be derived by employing the same rationale and arguments that justify state regulation of economic conduct. Very roughly the idea is that managers have a duty to behave as if they were complying with an ideal regulatory regime ensuring Pareto-optimal market outcomes. Proponents of the approach argue that managers have a professional duty not to undermine the institutional setting that defines their role, namely the competitive market. This answer (...) is inadequate, however, for it is the hierarchical firm, rather than the competitive market, that defines the role of corporate managers and shapes their professional obligations. Thus, if the obligations that the market failures approach generates are to apply to managers, they must do so in an indirect way. I suggest that the obligations the market failures approach generates directly apply to shareholders. Managers, in turn, inherit these obligations as part of their duties as loyal agents. (shrink)
ABSTRACTAchievements are among the things that make a life good. Assessing the plausibility of this intuitive claim requires an account of the nature of achievements. One necessary condition for achievement appears to be that the achieving agent acted competently, i.e. was not just lucky. I begin by critically assessing existing accounts of anti-luck conditions for achievements in both the ethics and epistemology literature. My own proposal is that a goal is reached competently, only if the actions of the would-be-achiever make (...) success likely, and that this is the reason why she acts that way. (shrink)
This paper responds to the Radical Behavioral Challenge to normative business ethics. According to RBC, recent research on bounded ethicality shows that it is psychologically impossible for people to follow the prescriptions of normative business ethics. Thus, said prescriptions run afoul of the principle that nobody has an obligation to do something that they cannot do. I show that the only explicit response to this challenge in the business ethics literature is flawed because it limits normative business ethics to condemning (...) practitioners’ behavior without providing usable suggestions for how to do better. I argue that a more satisfying response is to, first, recognize that most obligations in business are wide-scope which, second, implies that there are multiple ways of fulfilling them. This provides a solid theoretical grounding for the increasingly popular view that we have obligations to erect institutional safeguards when bounded ethicality is likely to interfere with our ability to do what is right. I conclude with examples of such safeguards and some advice on how to use the research findings on bounded ethicality in designing ethical business organizations. (shrink)
Business ethics denial refers to one of two claims about moral motivation in a business context: that there is no need for it, or that it is impossible. Neither of these radical claims is endorsed by serious theorists in the academic fields that study business ethics. Nevertheless, public commentators, as well as university students, often make claims that seem to imply that they subscribe to some form of business ethics denial. This paper fills a gap by making explicit both the (...) various forms that business ethics denial can take, and the reasons why such views are ultimately implausible. The paper argues that this type of serious engagement with business ethics denial should be an important part of the job description for teachers of business ethics. (shrink)
This article argues that shareholder primacy cannot be defended on the grounds that there is something special about the position of shareholders that grounds a right to preferential treatment on part of management. The notions of property and contract, traditionally thought to ground such a right, are now widely recognized as incapable of playing that role. This leaves shareholder theorists with two options. They can either abandon the project of arguing for their view on broadly deontological grounds and try to (...) advance consequentialist arguments instead, or they can search for other morally relevant properties that could ground shareholder rights. The most sustained argument in the latter vein is Marcoux’s attempt to show that the vulnerability of shareholders mandates that managers are their ﬁduciaries. I show that this argument leads to the unacceptable conclusion that it would be unethical for corporations to make incomplete contracts with nonshareholding stakeholders. (shrink)
Economistic Business Ethics Denial (BED) is the belief that contemporary business has features that make it systematically incompatible with ethics. Using over 1200 participants across seven separate samples we established the substantive validity of a BED Scale, confirmed its theorized structure, psychometric properties, convergent, and discriminant validity. The results suggest that the scale assesses four correlated factors of economistic BED. The scale can be used in future research on ethical decision making in business, and business ethics education.
This article is an introduction to moral concepts. Its purpose is to introduce and explain vocabulary that can be used both in examining ethical theories, and in talking about the ethically significant aspects of concrete situations. We begin by distinguishing descriptive and normative claims, and explaining how moral claims are a special type of normative claims. We then introduce terms for the moral evaluation of actions, states of affairs, and motives. Focusing on the question ‘what should be done?’, we talk (...) at some length about factors that influence the moral evaluation of actions, such as rights, duties, and consequences. We also cover related concepts such as justifications, excuses, praise, and blame. Finally, we discuss ethical reasoning and the roles played therein by principles, values, and theories. (shrink)
Strudler rejects shareholder primacy and argues that, once contractual obligations have been fulfilled and shareholders have received a reasonable return on investment, corporate executives may use corporate wealth for the general good. He seeks to establish this claim via an argument that, contrary to the received view, shareholders do not own corporations. After raising some questions about the latter argument, this commentary goes on to argue that the question of corporate ownership is a red herring. The argument for shareholder primacy (...) that Strudler wants to reject does not rely on the premise that shareholders own the firm. (shrink)
At or near the beginning of many textbooks and syllabi in applied or professional ethics is a unit on philosophical moral theories (such as utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics). However, teaching such theories is of questionable value in this context. This article introduces the moral vocabulary approach. Instead of burdening students with complex ethical theories, they are introduced to the logic of elementary moral concepts. This avoids many of the drawbacks of teaching ethical theories, while preserving the benefit of equipping (...) students with the conceptual tools they need to critically analyse ethical issues. (shrink)
Theories of well-being that give an important role to satisfied pro-attitudes need to account for the fact that, intuitively, the scope of possible objects of pro-attitudes seems much wider than the scope of things, states, or events that affect our well-being. Parfit famously illustrated this with his wish that a stranger may recover from an illness: it seems implausible that the stranger’s recovery would constitute a benefit for Parfit. There is no consensus in the literature about how to rule out (...) such well-being-irrelevant pro-attitudes. I argue, first, that there is no distinction in kind between well-being-relevant and irrelevant pro-attitudes. Instead, well-being-irrelevant pro-attitudes are the limiting cases on the scale measuring how much of a difference pro-attitudes make to the subject’s well-being. Second, I propose a particular scalar model according to which the well-being-relevance of pro-attitudes is measured by either their hedonic tone, or by the subject’s conative commitment. (shrink)
In this paper, I sketch out a novel theory of well-being according to which well-being is constituted by harmony between mind and world. The notion of harmony I develop has three aspects. First there is correspondence between mind and world in the sense that events in the world match the content of our mental states. Second there is positive orientation towards the world, meaning that we have pro-attitudes towards the world we find ourselves in. Third there is fitting response to (...) the world. Taken together these three aspects make up an ideal of being attuned to, or at home in, the world. Such harmony between mind and world constitutes well-being. Its opposite – being disoriented, ill-at-ease in, or hostile to the world – makes a life go poorly. And, as we shall see, many of the things that intuitively contribute to well-being are instantiating one or more of the three aspects of harmony. (shrink)
According to the pure part-life view the meaning in our lives is always borne by particular parts of our lives. The aim of this paper is to show that Thaddeus Metz’s rejection of this view is too quick. Given that meaning is a value that often depends on relational rather than intrinsic properties a pure part-life view can accommodate many of the intuitions that move Metz towards a mixed view. According to this mixed view some meaning is borne by parts (...) of our lives and some by our lives as a whole. The arguments in this paper suggest, however, that even if a pure part-life view is to be rejected, a mixed view that incorporates a whole-life aspect is not going to be any more plausible. (shrink)
Jones and Felps claim that social welfare would be enhanced, if corporate managers adopted the goal of directly improving the happiness of their stakeholders instead of profit maximization. I argue that their argument doesn’t establish this. They show that a utilitarian case for profit orientation cannot be made from the armchair. But neither can the case for Jones and Felps’ preferred alternative. And their defense of it relies on empirically unsubstantiated assumptions.