The Radical Behavioral Challenge (RBC) contends that due to normal human cognitive biases, many standard prescriptions of business ethics run afoul of the principle that ‘ought implies can.’ Von Kriegstein responds to this challenge by arguing that those prescriptions are wide-scope obligations that can be fulfilled by recusing oneself or by establishing appropriate safeguards. I argue that this solution falls short of fully resolving the RBC because individuals will often be incapable of recognizing when they are biased and incapable of establishing appropriate safeguards.
To download the full PDF, click here: Ancell on von Kriegstein on the ‘Radical Behavioral Challenges’ in Business Ethics
Aaron Ancell is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Bentley University
“Must a Currency Be Centrally Regulated to Be Ethical?,” by Tobey Scharding
Scharding (2019) argues that Bitcoin is unethical on Fichte’s (2012/1800) view because its instability makes it unable to guarantee that users can afford what they need to live. She contrasts Bitcoin with currencies controlled by central authorities that can guarantee their stability. Allison (2021) objects that not all centrally controlled currencies are stable and not all non-centrally controlled currencies are unstable. I clarify that both stability and a means of securing stability (typically, a central authority) are necessary, but not sufficient, for a currency to be ethical.
To download the full PDF, click here: Scharding Responds to Allison
Tobey Scharding is Assistant Professor of Management and Global Business at Rutgers Business School.
A COMMENTARY ON Abraham Singer (2019), “Business Ethics and Efficiency: The Market Failures Approach,” in The Form of the Firm: A Normative Political Theory of the Corporation, New York: Oxford University Press, 218–236.
Abraham Singer defends the Market Failures Approach (MFA) to business ethics from the objection that the MFA cannot account for the moral value of disruptive innovation. Singer argues that critics who attack the MFA on these grounds face a dilemma: either accept the MFA, along with its general prohibition on disruptive innovation, or reject the very idea that business and market competition should be understood as rule-governed activities at all. This commentary argues that the dilemma Singer poses to MFA critics is a false one.
To download the full PDF, click here: Young on Singer on Disruptive Innovation
Carson Young is an assistant professor in SUNY Brockport’s School of Business and Management.
“A Contractualist Defense of Sweatshop Regulation,” by Huseyin S. Kuyumcuoglu
Kates argues that ex ante contractualism fails to defend interference with sweatshops on moral grounds. In this commentary, I argue that Kates does not apply this approach correctly. Ex ante contractualism, indeed, successfully defends interference and thus should still be considered an appealing alternative to other moral approaches for evaluating when and how to interfere in sweatshop conditions to help workers.
To download the full PDF, click here: Kuyumcuoglu Responds to Kates
Huseyin S Kuyumcuoglu is a visiting scholar at Kadir Has University and a co-founding member of the Society for Practical Philosophy, Turkey (Pratik Felsefe Toplulugu).
“Adorno’s Critique of Work in Market Society,” by Craig Reeves and Matthew Sinnicks
Jaakko Nevasto has offered a number of thoughtful criticisms of our attempt to show that Adorno’s work can fruitfully be brought to bear on topics in business ethics. After welcoming his constructive clarifications, we attempt to defuse Nevasto’s main objections and defend our application of Adorno, focusing in particular on the topics of moral epistemology, needs, and the possibility of genuine activity – and thus good work – within capitalist society.
To download the full PDF, click here: Reeves and Sinnicks Respond to Nevasto
Craig Reeves is a lecturer in law at Birkbeck College, London.
Matthew Sinnicks is a lecturer in organisational behaviour at Henley Business School, University of Reading
“Insider Trading and Sabotage,” by Anthony Evans
A COMMENTARY ON T. L. Smith and W. E. Block (2016*), “The Economics of Insider Trading: A Free Market Perspective,” J Bus Ethics 139(1): 47–53.
Insider trading is widely reviled, and yet – as Smith and Block argue – it is consistent with the basic principles of a free market system. This article draws attention to an argument against insider trading that Smith and Block don’t address, namely the potential for sabotage. However, this issue still fails to justify insider-trading legislation, and thus ultimately supports Smith and Block’s view that regulatory attempts to prevent it are misplaced.
To download the full PDF, click here: Evans on Smith & Block
Anthony J. Evans is Professor of Economics at ESCP Business School. He has been an Affiliate Faculty Member on the Microeconomics of Competitiveness Programme at Harvard Business School, and was a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence at San Jose State University.
* Editorial note: This target article is outside Business Ethics Journal Review’s usual three-year window for Commentaries. That is due to editorial mishandling of the author’s original submission, which was accomplished within the three-year window. The Editors apologize to the author for the error.
A COMMENTARY ON Tobey Scharding (2019), “National Currency, World Currency, Cryptocurrency: A Fichtean Approach to the Ethics of Bitcoin,” Bus & Soc Rev 124(2): 1–20.
Tobey Scharding claims that Bitcoin’s lack of a central regulator makes it open to price fluctuations. I argue that a currency not having a central regulator does not necessitate it being more volatile than centrally regulated currencies. First, I argue that Scharding’s reason for suggesting that Bitcoin is open to price fluctuations – its potential to face legal restrictions – is also faced by centrally regulated currencies. Second, I use silver in London as an example of a non-centrally regulated currency with relatively low price volatility when compared to other centrally regulated currencies showing that non-centrally regulated currencies are not necessarily more volatile.
To download the full PDF, click here: Allison on Scharding
Andrew Allison is PhD student in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Calgary.
Adorno’s Critical Moral Philosophy and Business Ethics, by Jaakko Nevasto
Reeves and Sinnicks present Theodor Adorno as a philosopher with a sombre message to business ethics. Capitalist markets distort our needs and work in business organisations stultifies our moral capacities. Thus, the discipline’s self-understanding must be revised, and supplemented with reflections on what would be good work: free creative activity. After raising some questions about their interpretation of Adorno’s writings on human needs, I argue that the paper does not contain all the necessary resources to support its ferociously critical claims. Once such resources are made available, however, the appeal to a notion of good work is no longer viable.
To download the full PDF, click here: Nevasto on Reeves and Sinnicks
Jaakko Nevasto‘s research focuses on business ethics, critical theory, and the philosophy of markets. (He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org )
Sweatshop Regulations and Ex Ante Contractualism, by Michael Kates
Kuyumcuoglu argues that defenders of sweatshop regulations should reject consequentialism and accept an ex ante interpretation of contractualism instead. In this Commentary I show that Kuyumcuoglu’s argument doesn’t succeed. Defenders of sweatshops shouldn’t become ex ante contractualists because its advantages on this issue are more apparent than real.
To download the full PDF, click here: Kates on Regulating Sweatshops
Michael Kates is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Saint Joseph’s University.
Pandemic Preparation, Democracy, and the Morality of the Market, by David Silver
A COMMENTARY, IN THE BUSINESS ETHICS IN TIMES OF PANDEMIC VIRTUAL SYMPOSIUM
This Commentary investigates ethical issues surrounding the US government’s attempt to partner with a private company to produce a new low-cost ventilator as part of its pandemic preparation plans. I argue that firms have distinct duties with respect to such public-private partnerships. In contrast to approaches that analyze these duties in terms of an “implicit morality” of the market, I analyze them in terms of democratically authorized plans regarding how to structure the market.
To download the full PDF, click here:
David Silver holds the Chair in Business and Professional Ethics and directs the W. Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics in the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia, with a joint appointment at the Sauder School of Business.