A COMMENTARY ON Brett Gregory Johnson (2017), “Speech, Harm, and the Duties of Digital Intermediaries: Conceptualizing Platform Ethics,” J Media Ethics 32(1): 16–27.
This commentary is published as part of BEJR’s BUSINESS ETHICS IN TIMES OF PANDEMIC VIRTUAL SYMPOSIUM!
Johnson (2017) conceptualizes the social responsibilities of digital media platforms by describing two ethical approaches: one emphasizing the discursive freedom of platform-users, the other emphasizing protecting users from harmful posts. These competing concerns are on full display in the current debate over platforms’ obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic. While Johnson argues both approaches are grounded in democracy, we argue that democratic commitments transcend the freedom/ harm dichotomy. Instead, a commitment to democracy points toward social media companies’ responsibilities to structure their platforms in ways that facilitate perspectival diversity and collective deliberation.
To download the full PDF, click here: Forestal and Singer on Johnson
Jennifer Forestal is Helen Houlahan Rigali Assistant Professor of Political Science at Loyola University Chicago. Abraham Singer is assistant professor of business ethics at Loyola University Chicago.
A COMMENTARY ON K. Mensch and J. Barge (2019), “Understanding Challenges to Leadership-as-Practice by Way of Macintyre’s Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry,” Bus & Prof Ethics J 38(1): 1–16, https://doi.org/10.5840/bpej2018101273
Mensch and Barge in their interpretation of Alasdair MacIntyre’s critique of genealogical ethics as a basis of ethical weakness in the emerging field of “leadership-as-practice,” suggest that L-A-P is lacking in ethical grounding especially because of its relativist philosophy. I address this valid ethical concern in L-A-P theory by arguing that there is a form of realism in Nietzchean axiology and that the dialogic potentialities in material-social interactions may offer a greater capacity for ethical reflexivity than a reliance on rules.
To download the full PDF, click here: Raelin on Mensch and Barge on Leadership-as-Practice
Joe Raelin is the Donald Gordon Visiting Professor of Leadership, University of Cape Town and The Knowles Chair Emeritus, Northeastern University. He specializes in collective leadership and collective learning. Joe can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
A COMMENTARY ON Alan Strudler (2017), “What To Do With Corporate Wealth?” J Poli Philos 25(1): 108–126.
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.
To download the full PDF, click here: von Kriegstein on Strudler on Shareholder Ownership and Primacy
Hasko von Kriegstein is Assistant Professor at the Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University.
A COMMENTARY ON Alan Tomhave and Mark Vopat (2018), “The Business of Boycotting: Having Your Chicken and Eating it Too,” J Bus Ethics 152: 123–132.
Alan Tomhave and Mark Vopat have argued that organized boycotts against the expressive acts of companies and their leaders are pro tanto morally wrong because they constitute an attempt to silence voices in the marketplace of ideas. I argue that such boycotts are not best viewed as attempts to silence, but rather as a morally permissible form of withdrawal of support of certain expressive acts.
To download the full PDF, click here: Davis on Tomhave and Vopat
Dr. Jeremy Davis is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the United States Military Academy (West Point), with research interests in normative and applied ethics. You can learn more about him at: www.jeremyvdavis.com
A RESPONSE TO Kenneth Silver (2019), “Modern Portfolio Theory and Share- holder Primacy”, Bus Ethics J Rev 7(6): 34–39, https://doi.org/10.12747/bejr2019.07.06
Kenneth Silver (2019) criticizes our (Sollars and Tuluca 2018) use of the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) to determine the return on investment that is deserved by shareholders, and suggests shareholder primacy follows from the principal/agent model, rather than a concern for risk. We argue that Silver has misunderstood CAPM and our use of it, and that, under current law, more is required from articles of incorporation or corporate bylaws for the principal/agent model to apply to corporations.
To download the full PDF, click here: Sollars and Tuluca on Silver
Gordon G. Sollars is an associate professor of management in the Silberman College of Business at Fairleigh Dickinson University, with interests in shareholder liability, worker exploitation, and product liability.
Sorin A. Tuluca is a professor of finance in the Silberman College of Business at Fairleigh Dickinson University, with interests in various aspects of corporate finance, corporate governance and interactions between financial markets and real activity.
The Implicit Morality of the Market Is Consequentialist, by Marc Cohen and Dean Peterson
A COMMENTARY ON Joseph Heath (2019), “Is the ‘Point’ of the Market Pareto or Kaldor-Hicks Efficiency?,” Bus Ethics J Rev 7(4): 21–26, https://doi.org/10.12747/bejr2019.07.04
Joseph Heath states that our paper “misinterpret[s]” and so misrepresents his account. The present Commentary corrects the record. Our paper (Cohen and Peterson 2019) outlined Heath’s account on his own terms; it explained that Heath distances himself from consequentialism. But then we argued that Heath is mistaken and so offered a repaired version of the market failures approach. Our central concern, in the original paper and in this short Commentary, is showing that the economic argument for markets is at the same time ethical, and then being more precise about the ethical consideration that does the work.
To download the full PDF, click here: Cohen & Peterson on Heath
Dean Peterson is an Associate Professor of economics and Associate Director of the University Honors Program at Seattle University. His teaching and research focus on the history of economics.
Marc A. Cohen is an Associate Professor at Seattle University in the Department of Management and the Department of Philosophy.
A COMMENTARY ON Matthias Hühn and Claus Dierksmeier (2016), “Will the Real A. Smith Please Stand Up!” J Bus Ethics 131(1): 119–132.
Hühn and Dierksmeier argue that a better understanding of Adam Smith’s work would improve business ethics research and education. I worry that their approach encourages two scholarly sins. First, anachronistic historiography in which we distort Smith’s ideas by making him answer questions about contemporary debates in CSR theory. Second, treating him as a prophet by assuming that finding out what Smith would have thought about it is the right way to answer such questions.
To download the full PDF, click here: Wells on Hühn & Dierksmeier
Thomas Wells is an assistant professor of philosophy at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. His research and teaching focuses on ethics, especially ethical issues in business, capitalism and the methodology of economics.
A COMMENTARY ON Gordon G. Sollars and Sorin A. Tuluca (2018), “Fiduciary Duty, Risk, and Shareholder Desert,” Bus Ethics Q 28(2): 203–218, https://doi.org/10.1017/beq.2017.47
Shareholders assume risk by investing. Sollars and Tuluca (2018) argue that while this does not justify a managerial policy of shareholder wealth maximization, it does justify compensating shareholders at the often- calculated cost of equity—the cost that investors require given the level of risk they assume. Here, I show that this can be unfair if the cost of equity is unfair. I then show how shareholder wealth maximization as a managerial imperative is better justified on other grounds.
To download the full PDF, click here: Silver on Sollars and Tuluca
Kenneth Silver is an Assistant Professor in Business Ethics within Trinity Business School at Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin.
A RESPONSE TO Daniel Sportiello (2019), “MacIntyre and Wyma on Investment Advising,” Bus Ethics J Rev 7(1): 1–6,
Daniel Sportiello argues that my support of financial planning as a MacIntyrean practice fails because I have misunderstood the concept of internal goods, and because financial planning then has no internal good at all. Here, I rebut those charges.
To download the full PDF, click here: Wyma on Sportiello
Keith Wyma is professor of ethics at Whitworth University in Spokane, among other things teaching Business Ethics and coaching the school’s three-time national champion Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl team.
A COMMENTARY ON Jeffrey Moriarty (2019), “On the Origin, Content, and Relevance of the Market Failures Approach,” J Bus Ethics: (first online 17 January 2019) 1–12, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-019-04106-x
Moriarty argues that the Market Failures Approach (MFA) to business ethics is inapplicable to “real world” problems, because it treats “market failure” as a failure to achieve Pareto efficiency. Depending upon how it is applied, Pareto efficiency is either trivially easy to satisfy or else so demanding that no real-world market could ever satisfy it. In this Commentary, I argue that Moriarty overstates these difficulties. The regulatory structure governing markets is best understood as an attempt to maximize the number of Pareto-improving exchanges that occur. There is no reason to think business self-regulation cannot be guided by the same normative-conceptual framework.
To download the full PDF, click here: Heath on Moriarty’s Critique
Joseph Heath is a professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Toronto.
See also, in BEJR, these pieces related to Prof Heath’s work: