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Ethics Theory and Business Practice 11.1 Some Closing Thoughts – Part One Responding to Perplexity and Ambivalence.

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Presentation on theme: "Ethics Theory and Business Practice 11.1 Some Closing Thoughts – Part One Responding to Perplexity and Ambivalence."— Presentation transcript:

1 Ethics Theory and Business Practice 11.1 Some Closing Thoughts – Part One Responding to Perplexity and Ambivalence

2 aims to introduce some possible reactions to philosophically based study of business ethics to reflect on the perplexing nature of business ethics to suggest that, rather than inhibiting ethical evaluation, sensitivity to perplexity can actually enhance its quality to draw attention to the possibility of ethical ambivalence in relation to business practice to suggest that we may not have to put up with the ethical downsides of business activity in order to reap the ethical upsides

3 some possible reactions to philosophically based business-ethics study 1.perplexity 2.ambivalence 3.powerlessness

4 1. perplexity an unavoidable feature of philosophically based ethical enquiry ethics does not lend itself to the delivery of precise conclusions but lack of precision need not preclude ethical conviction

5 the precarious nature of ethical evaluation there are no unquestionable formulas that we can apply to deliver irrefutable verdicts of right and wrong but this does not mean we cannot hold firm ethical views nor does it mean that we cannot have good grounds for holding those views

6 the merits of well-informed choice which draws on comprehensive consideration of an issue which is undertaken by somebody who is well versed in the subject and which embraces a range of perspectives

7 perplexity: a corrective to ethical dogmatism dogmatism a tendency to assume that ethical principles or opinions are incontrovertibly true a disinclination to consider the possibility of alternatives unlikely to lead to well-informed ethical convictions be alert to the possibility that our ethical views can be improved through engagement with new perspectives

8 the danger of ethical dogmatism in business communities We’ve got fundamentalist Muslims We’ve got fundamentalist Jews We’ve got fundamentalist Christians They’ll blow the whole thing up for you But as I travel around this big old world There’s one thing I fear most It’s a white man in a golf shirt With a cell phone at his ear (Russell, 2007) www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdyKAIhLdNs

9 2. ambivalence businesses do many things that are ethically praiseworthy but they also do some things that are ethically questionable so how are we to feel about the ethicality of business? must we take the rough with the smooth?

10 naturalization ‘In naturalization a social formation is abstracted from the historical conflictual site of its origin and treated as a concrete, relatively fixed entity’ ‘institutional arrangements are no longer seen as choices but as natural and self-evident’ ‘[which] protects them from examination as produced under specific historical conditions … and out of specific power relations’ (Alvesson and Deetz, 2005/1996: 75)

11 things may not have to be the way they are ambivalence can act as a spur to the exploration of alternative corporate forms which may enable us to reap the ethical fruits of business activity whilst avoiding the ethical decay that sometimes comes with it

12 theory in practice the Mondragon Corporation: another way of doing business

13 key points the perplexing nature of ethical evaluation need not prevent us from forming well-grounded opinions about business ethics however, it should alert us the importance of subjecting those opinions to critique and engaging with perspectives which challenge them we may not need to accept the ethically problematic features of business practice in order to reap the benefits rather, ambivalence can act as a spur to the exploration of alternative ways of doing business that are more ethically sustainable

14 references Alvesson, M. and Deetz, S. (2005/1996) ‘Critical theory and postmodernism’, in C. Grey, and H. Willmott, (eds) Critical Management Studies: A Reader. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 60– 106. Russell, T. (2007) ‘Who’s gonna build your wall’, on Assorted Artists, Wounded Heart of America. Highstone Records.


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