In his ground-breaking new textbook, Mick Fryer offers students of Business Ethics clear explanations of a range of theoretical perspectives, along with examples of how these perspectives might be used to illuminate the ethical challenges presented by business practice. The book includes: • Realistic scenarios which gently introduce a theory and demonstrate how it can be applied to a real-life ethical dilemma that everyone can relate to, such as borrowing money from a friend • Real organisational case studies in each chapter which illustrate how each theory can be applied to real business situations. Cases include Nike, Coca Cola, BMW, Shell, Starbucks and GSK • ‘Pause for Reflection’ boxes and ‘Discussion Questions’ which encourage you to challenge the established notions of right and wrong, and empower you to develop your own moral code • Video Activities in each chapter with accompanying QR codes which link to documentaries, films, debates and news items to get you thinking about real-life ethical dilemmas Visit the book’s companion website for self-test questions, additional web links and more at: study.sagepub.com/fryer
Chapter 4: Social Contract Theory: Business Obligations, Corporate Wrongdoing and Just Distribution
Social Contract Theory: Business Obligations, Corporate Wrongdoing and Just Distribution
This chapter will:
- outline social contract theory in its classical format;
- explain the importance of voluntarism, tacit agreements and hypothetical constructions in a business context;
- discuss two contrasting perspectives on the relationship between human nature and social organization;
- explain how these offer the basis for person-focused and culture-focused approaches to explaining and preventing unethical business conduct;
- introduce John Rawls’s theory of justice;
- explain how Rawls’s ideas can be applied to ethical evaluation of the distribution of benefits and burdens associated with business activity.
Social contract theory is generally associated with political philosophy. This is because, as it is usually presented, social contract theory provides a basis for justifying state [Page 127]authority. ...