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"... reason accepts no authority above itself and is necessarily subversive." - Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind (1987), p. 258.

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Presentation on theme: ""... reason accepts no authority above itself and is necessarily subversive." - Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind (1987), p. 258."— Presentation transcript:

1 "... reason accepts no authority above itself and is necessarily subversive." - Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind (1987), p. 258.

2 BAM321 Business Ethics and Social Responsibility Session 8 Business and Management

3 Agenda for today Your issues “Stop living ethically” A bit more on Rawls Virtues

4 John Rawls Suppose a completely new society is about to be constructed. Suppose you don’t know what your position will be in the new society. What features would you want that society to have? We diamond mined and got a lot of emphasis on democracy and equal opportunity

5 John Rawls 1.Each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive total system of basic liberties compatible with a similar system of liberty for all. 2.Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are both a)to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged, and b)attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity.

6 John Rawls Rawls offers a ranking of his principles Liberty is top priority and is not to be restricted for the sake of anything else So a reduced liberty for some must lead to a greater overall system of liberty for all, and must be acceptable to those with reduced liberty

7 John Rawls Rawls offers a ranking of his principles Liberty is top priority and is not to be restricted for the sake of anything else Equality of opportunity is more important than anything but liberty

8 John Rawls The difference principle An inequality is unjust unless it is a necessary means to improving the position of the worst off members of society If we accept this, what do we think of multi-million pound salaries?

9 John Rawls The original position is designed by Rawls and so is not original in the sense of something preceding human society To get the results – the principles – that Rawls gets we have to be a very particular type of people –egoistic and risk-averse (cautious)

10 John Rawls There is a paradox in that if people were egoists then many would refuse to take part in Rawls’s thought experiment… and if Rawls had been an egoist he would not have designed it

11 John Rawls So Rawls’s theory of justice does not necessarily reflect what people choose to do when they take part in his thought experiment It reflects his own values, rather as Kant’s theory reflects his Kant valued human reason and rationality What did Rawls value?

12 I think, therefore I am Rene Descartes ( )

13 Existentialism Live life authentically! Human beings must make their own meaning of the world Existence precedes any meanings –Being precedes thinking Contrast this with Kant and Rand

14 Robert Solomon’s virtue ethics Human nature is not individualistic, self-interested and competitive. Human identity is formed from our membership of communities which have practices, rules, ideals etc.

15 Solomon’s virtue ethics Business is a practice and a community constituted by the broader social community. The broader community gives business both rights and responsibilities.

16 Solomon’s virtue ethics Corporations “have the right to pursue their own interests, which may among other things include profits rather than happiness, but this right has all sorts of preconditions and limitations that include but are not limited to the prohibition against harming others…” (Solomon (1993) Ethics and Excellence)

17 Solomon’s virtue ethics “…business is also a social practice based on human relationships in which individuality and personal autonomy are by no means denied or compromised, but rather given a context in which to be meaningful.” (Solomon (1993) Ethics and Excellence)

18 The Corporation by Joel Bakan Bakan (Canadian academic lawyer) argues that the corporation is psychopathic. We need to remember that corporations exist only because we grant them the right to exist. –The state is more powerful than the corporation!

19 The Corporation by Joel Bakan The US government could have broken up Microsoft. In the US most corporations are incorporated by the states – most by Delaware. –The states make money out of it!

20 Directed tasks Complete assessment task 1 Read the pre-reading material for assessment task 2 Keep alert to the news and events in your life that raise ethical questions


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