Synopses & Reviews
This ninth edition of TAKING SIDES: BUSINESS ETHICS AND SOCIETY presents current controversial issues in a debate-style format designed to stimulate student interest and develop critical thinking skills. Each issue is thoughtfully framed with an issue summary, an issue introduction, and a postscript. An instructors manual with testing material is available for each volume. USING TAKING SIDES IN THE CLASSROOM is also an excellent instructor resource with practical suggestions on incorporating this effective approach in the classroom. Each TAKING SIDES reader features an annotated listing of selected World Wide Web sites and is supported by our student website, www.dushkin.com/online.
This 8th edition of Business Ethics and Society is designed to introduce students to controversies in business ethics. The readings, which represent the arguments of leading philosophers and business commentators, reflect a variety of viewpoints and are presented as "pro" and "con" arguments. This title is also supported by the student Web site, Dushkin online at http://www.dushkin.com/online.
Table of Contents
PART 1. Capitalism and the Corporation
ISSUE 1. Is Capitalism the Best Route to Human Happiness?
YES: Adam Smith, from An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, vols. 1 and 2 (1869)
NO: Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, from The Communist Manifesto (1848)
If we will but leave self-interested people to seek their own advantage, Adam Smith argues, the result, unintended by any one of them, will be the greater advantage of all. No government interference is necessary to protect the general welfare. Karl Marx disagrees; leave people to their own self-interested devices, he replies, and those who by luck and inheritance own the means of production will rapidly reduce everyone else to virtual slavery. The few may be fabulously happy, but all others will live in misery.
ISSUE 2. Can Individual Virtue Survive Corporate Pressure?
YES: Robert C. Solomon, from “Victims of Circumstances? A Defense of Virtue Ethics in Business,” Business Ethics Quarterly (January 2003)
NO: Gilbert Harman, from “No Character or Personality,” Business Ethics Quarterly (January 2003)
Is there, finally, any free choice or moral agency left in the business world? Robert Solomon argues that there is, and that virtue ethics makes a real difference in the life of a business and its employees. Gilbert Harman fears that Solomon has underestimated the force of the determinist arguments, and presents a powerful restatement of them.
ISSUE 3. Can Restructuring a Corporations Rules Make a Moral Difference?
YES: Josef Wieland, from “The Ethics of Governance,” Business Ethics Quarterly (January 2001)
NO: Ian Maitland, from “Distributive Justice in Firms: Do the Rules of Corporate Governance Matter?” Business Ethics Quarterly (January 2001)
Josef Wieland, director of the German Business Ethics Networks Centre for Business Ethics, argues that the performative nature of communications like codes of ethics in a corporation gives moral impetus to the corporation that issues such a code. It announces its willingness to be held accountable to the code as to a promise. Ian Maitland, professor of business, government, and society at the University of Minnesotas Carlson School of Management, thinks that such moral structuring has no effect at all on the corporations moral performance (for instance, in distributive justice), but if taken too seriously, might impair the efficiency of the corporation and therefore its ability to create wealth for all its stakeholders.
ISSUE 4. Should Corporations Adopt Policies of Corporate Social Responsibility?
YES: Robert D. Hay and Edmund R. Gray, from “Introduction to Social Responsibility,” in David Keller, man. ed., Ethics and Values: Basic Readings in Theory and Practice (Pearson Custom Publishing, 2002)
NO: Milton Friedman, from “The Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits,” in Thomas Donaldson and Patricia H. Werhane, eds., Ethical Issues in Business: A Philosophical Approach, 4th ed. (Prentice Hall, 1993)
Business leaders now recognize, Robert Hay and Edmund Gray argue, that in the long run, business will only be successful if it is directed to the needs of the societyand if it chooses to ignore that advice, government regulation is likely to fill the gap between business operations and the welfare of the people the government is sworn to protect. Milton Friedman argues that businesses have neither the right nor the ability to fool around with "social responsibility"; they serve employees and customers best when they do their work with maximum efficiency.
PART 2. Current Issues in Business
ISSUE 5. Are Pharmaceutical Firms Obliged to Cut Their Prices for Poor AIDS Victims?
YES: Debra Watson, from “U.S. Pharmaceutical Companies Reap Huge Profits From AIDS Drugs,” World Socialist Web Site, (June 5, 1999)
NO: Robert Goldberg, from “Wrong Prescription: Dont Rush to Embrace the Bush AIDS Plan,” National Review Online, (February 7, 2003)
Debra Watson argues, very simply, that the greed of AIDS profiteers is killing impoverished people with AIDS all over the world (including the United States). Only drastic price reductions will make necessary drugs available to the victims. Robert Goldberg doubts that reducing prices will make much of a difference to AIDS sufferers, while the educational and health infrastructure remain inadequate to reach and teach the victims.
ISSUE 6. Should Casino Gambling Be Prohibited?
YES: William A. Galston and David Wasserman, from “Gambling Away Our Moral Capital,” The Public Interest (Spring 1996)
NO: William R. Eadington, from “The Proliferation of Commercial Gaming in America,” The Sovereign Citizen (Fall 1994)
William Galston and David Wasserman claim that the moral arguments against legalized gambling far outweigh the economic arguments from the apparent contributions of the gambling industry to state and local prosperity. William Eadington argues that gambling is a normal extension of commercial activity, and can safely be managed to promote the welfare of the host areas; he is less concerned about the reported downside of the gaming enterprise.
ISSUE 7. Is Wal-Mart a Good Model for Retail Sales?
YES: Sam Walton with John Huey, from Made in America (Doubleday, 1992)
NO: Silvia Ribeiro, from “The Costs of ‘Walmartization,” (January 16, 2005)
Wal-Mart has become a focus of controversy, but Sam Walton was absolutely convinced that he and his associates had set up a model company, totally dedicated to giving consumers what they want, which is what retail sales are all about. Yes, Silvia Ribeiro agrees, but at a terribly high cost, and in the long run, the monopolistic practices cheat even the consumer.
ISSUE 8. Does the Enron Collapse Show That We Need More Regulation of the Energy Industry?
YES: Richard Rosen, from “Regulating Power: An Idea Whose Time Is Back,” The American Prospect (March 25, 2002)
NO: Christopher L. Culp and Steve H. Hanke, from “Empire of the Sun: An Economic Interpretation of Enrons Energy Business,” Policy Analysis (February 20, 2003)
Writer Richard Rosen contends that the disastrous collapse of the Enron energy companyaccompanied by soaring prices in California, disruptions of the market in the United States and abroad, and accusations of fraud all aroundmeans that America needs more government oversight. Christopher L. Culp, adjunct professor of finance at the Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago, and Steve H. Hanke, professor of applied economics at the Johns Hopkins University, maintain that it was unwise regulation that caused the Enron problem in the first place. They conclude that only deregulation will let the market clear up the problems with the industry.
PART 3. Human Resources: The Corporation and the Employee
ISSUE 9. Does Blowing the Whistle Violate Company Loyalty?
YES: Sissela Bok, from “Whistleblowing and Professional Responsibility,” New York University Education Quarterly (Summer 1980)
NO: Robert A. Larmer, from “Whistleblowing and Employee Loyalty,” Journal of Business Ethics (vol. 11, 1992)
When Time magazine chose three whistleblowersSherron Watkins, Coleen Rowley, and Cynthia Cooperas "Persons of the Year" for 2002, we were reminded that the employee who calls attention to wrongdoing plays a crucial role in our society. Philosopher Sissela Bok asserts that blowing the whistle, even if necessary on occasion, involves a breach of loyalty to the employer. Philosopher Robert A. Larmer argues that attempting to stop unethical company activities exemplifies, not challenges, company loyalty.
ISSUE 10. Is Controlling Drug Abuse More Important Than Protecting Privacy?
YES: Michael A. Verespej, from “Drug UsersNot TestingAnger Workers,” Industry Week (February 17, 1992)
NO: Jennifer Moore, from “Drug Testing and Corporate Responsibility: The ‘Ought Implies Can Argument,” Journal of Business Ethics (vol. 8, 1989)
Michael A. Verespej, a writer for Industry Week, argues that a majority of employees are tolerant of drug testing. Jennifer Moore, a researcher of business ethics and business law, asserts that employers concerns about drug abuse should not override employees right to dignity and privacy.
ISSUE 11. Is "Employment-at-Will" Good Social Policy?
YES: Richard A. Epstein, from “In Defense of the Contract at Will,” University of Chicago Law Review (Fall 1984)
NO: John J. McCall, from “In Defense of Just Cause Dismissal Rules,” Business Ethics Quarterly (April 2003)
Richard Epstein defends the "at-will" contract as an appropriate expression of autonomy of contract on the part of both employee and employer, and as a means to the most efficient operations of the market. John McCall argues that the defense of the Employment at Will doctrine does not take account of its economic and social consequences, and is in derogation of the very moral principles that underlie private property and freedom of contract.
ISSUE 12. Is CEO Compensation Justified by Performance?
YES: Kevin J. Murphy, from “Top Executives Are Worth Every Nickel They Get,” Harvard Business Review (March/April 1986)
NO: Lisa H. Newton, from “The Care and Feeding of the Truly Greedy: CEO Salaries in World Perspective,” An Original Essay Written for This Volume (2000)
Kevin Murphy argues that CEOs are simply paid to do what they were hired to dobring up the price of the stock to increase shareholder wealth. For large increases in shareholder wealth, they deserve large compensation. Lisa Newton finds that the ultimate effect of such large compensation packages on U.S. business has to be bad, and that the disparity between their wealth and the pay of their workerslet alone the poverty-stricken developing worldis unjust and a case of bad stewardship of resources.
PART 4. Consumer Issues
ISSUE 13. Are Marketing and Advertising Fundamentally Exploitive?
YES: John P. Foley, from “Ethics in Advertising: A Look at the Report by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications,” Journal of Public Policy and Marketing (Fall 1998)
NO: Gene R. Laczniak, from “Reflections on the 1997 Vatican Statements Regarding Ethics in Advertising,” Journal of Public Policy and Marketing (Fall 1998)
The Pontifical Council for Social Communications (1997) charges that advertising can be deceptive, improperly influential on media editorial policy, and often promotes a lifestyle based on unbridled consumption. Gene Laczniak points out that many of the documents claims are overstated, only partially true, economically naïve, and socially idealistic; the Churchs contribution to the debate is vitiated by such errors.
ISSUE 14. Was Ford to Blame in the Pinto Case?
YES: Mark Dowie, from “Pinto Madness,” Mother Jones (September/October 1977)
NO: Ford Motor Company, from “Closing Argument by Mr. James Neal,” Brief for the Defense, State of Indiana v. Ford Motor Company, U.S. District Court, South Bend, Indiana (January 15, 1980)
Investigative journalist Mark Dowie alleges that Ford Motor Company deliberately put an unsafe carthe Pintoon the road, causing hundreds of people to suffer burn deaths and horrible disfigurement. James Neal, chief attorney for Ford Motor Company during the Pinto litigation, argues that there is no proof of criminal intent or negligence on the part of Ford.
ISSUE 15. Should We Require Labeling for Genetically Modified Food?
YES: Philip L. Bereano, from “The Right to Know What We Eat,” The Seattle Times (October 11, 1998)
NO: Joseph A. Levitt, from Statement Before the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, United States Senate (September 26, 2000)
Philip Bereano argues that the consumers interest in knowing where his food comes from does not necessarily have to do with the chemical and nutritional properties of the food. We have a real and important interest in knowing the processes by which our foods arrived on the table, and the demand for a label for bioengineered foods is entirely legitimate. Addressing the U.S. Senate, Joseph Levitt points out that as far as the law is concerned, only the nutritional traits and characteristics of foods are subject to safety assessment.
PART 5. Global Obligations
ISSUE 16. Are Multinational Corporations Free From Moral Obligation?
YES: Manuel Velasquez, from “International Business, Morality and the Common Good,” Business Ethics Quarterly (January 1992)
NO: John E. Fleming, from “Alternative Approaches and Assumptions: Comments on Manuel Velasquez,” Business Ethics Quarterly (January 1992)
Ethicist Manuel Velasquez argues that since any business that tried to conform to moral rules in the absence of enforcement would cease to be competitive, moral strictures cannot be binding on such companies. John E. Fleming asserts that multinational corporations tend to deal with long-term customers and suppliers in the goldfish bowl of international media and must therefore adhere to moral standards or lose business.
ISSUE 17. Are Sweatshops Necessarily Evil?
YES: Denis G. Arnold and Norman E. Bowie, from “Sweatshops and Respect for Persons,” Business Ethics Quarterly (vol. 13, no. 2, 2003)
NO: Allen R. Myerson, from “In Principle, a Case for More ‘Sweatshops,” The New York Times (June 22, 1997)
Multinationals are responsible for the practices of their subcontractors and suppliers, argue Denis Arnold and Norman Bowie, and that responsibility includes at least ensuring that their employees are treated with respect, extended protections for health and safety, and paid a living wage. Allen Myerson, looking at the economies of less-developed countries, suggests that allowing their citizens to work in sweatshops may be the only option these nations have to accumulate capital.
ISSUE 18. Should Patenting Life Be Forbidden?
YES: Jeremy Rifkin, from “Should We Patent Life?” Business Ethics (March/April 1998)
NO: William Domnarski, from “Dire New World,” Intellectual Property Magazine (January 1999)
Jeremy Rifkin charges that if the trend to patenting life continues, all the genes in our bodies will no longer belong to us but to the global pharmaceutical firms that own the patents. William Domnarski finds Rifkins attacks shrill, misdirected, and generally out of touch with the reality of genuine progress in the fields of genetic engineering.
ISSUE 19. Should We Export Pesticides to Developing Nations?
YES: Kenneth E. Goodpaster and Laura L. Nash, from Policies and Persons: A Casebook in Business Ethics, 3rd ed. (McGraw-Hill, 1998)
NO: Jefferson D. Reynolds, from “International Pesticide Trade: Is There Any Hope for the Effective Regulation of Controlled Substances?” Journal of Land Use and Environmental Law (1997)
Goodpaster and Nash note that as the population increases, an increased food supply will be necessary to feed it, especially in the developing nations, and that an adequate crop often depends on the use of pesticides. Reynolds worries that exposure to very dangerous chemicals is taking a toll on the health of the developing world, which has not the expertise or resources to govern their use.
PART 6. Environmental Policy and Corporate Responsibility
ISSUE 20. Do Environmental Restrictions Violate Basic Economic Freedoms?
YES: John Shanahan, from “Environment,” in Stuart M. Butler and Kim R. Holmes, eds., Issues 96: The Candidates Briefing Book (Heritage Foundation, 1996)
NO: Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich, from “Brownlash: The New Environmental Anti-Science,” The Humanist (November/December 1996)
John Shanahan, vice president of the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution in Arlington, Virginia, argues that many government environmental policies are unreasonable and infringe on basic economic freedoms. Environmental scientists Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich argue that many objections to environmental protections are self-serving and based in bad or misused science.
ISSUE 21. Is Bottling Water a Good Solution to Problems of Water Purity and Availability?
YES: Julie Stauffer, from “Water,” Body + Soul (April/May 2005)
NO: Brian Howard, from “Message in a Bottle: Despite the Hype, Bottled Water Is Neither Cleaner Nor Greener Than Tap Water,” E: The Environmental Magazine (September/October 2003)
The commonly available information on bottled water certainly conveys the impression that it is purer and better than mere tap water; all the ads conjure up a vigorous and healthy outdoor lifestyle amid forests, lakes, and pure flowing springs. Brian Howard argues that bottling water is environmentally disastrous because of the huge drains on scarce aquifers and the haphazard disposal of the plastic bottles, and that tap water is often superior to bottled in purity.