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Business Ethics ­MGT610
VU
LESSON 31
Because of these problems, some contend that utilitarianism cannot lead our pollution control
policy. Perhaps absolute bans on pollution are more adequate. Some writers even suggest that
when risk cannot be reliably estimated, it is best to steer clear of such projects. Others maintain
that we should identify those who will bear the risks and take steps to protect them.
It holds that until those patterns of hierarchy and domination are changed, we will be unable to
deal with environmental crises. In a system of hierarchy, one group holds power over another
and members of the superior group are able to dominate those of the inferior group and get
them to serve their Many thinkers have argued that the environmental crises we face are rooted
in the social systems of hierarchy and domination that characterize our society. This view, now
referred to as social ecology, ends. What literally defines social ecology as "social" is its
recognition of the often overlooked fact that nearly all our present ecological problems arise
from deep-seated social problems. Conversely, present ecological problems cannot be clearly
understood, much less resolved, without resolutely dealing with problems within society. To
make this point more concrete: economic, ethnic, cultural, and gender conflicts, among many
others, lie at the core of the most serious ecological dislocations we face today--apart, to be
sure, from those that are produced by natural catastrophes.
If this approach seems a bit too "sociological" for those environmentalists who identify
ecological problems with the preservation of wildlife, wilderness, or more broadly, with "Gaia"
and planetary "Oneness," it might be sobering to consider certain recent facts. The massive oil
spill by an Exxon tanker at Prince William Sound, the extensive deforestation of redwood trees
by the Maxxam Corporation, and the proposed James Bay hydroelectric project that would
flood vast areas of northern Quebec's forests, to cite only a few problems, should remind us that
the real battleground on which the ecological future of the planet will be decided is clearly a
social one.
Indeed, to separate ecological problems from social problems--or even to play down or give
token recognition to this crucial relationship-- would be to grossly misconstrue the sources of
the growing environmental crisis. The way human beings deal with each other as social beings
is crucial to addressing the ecological crisis. Unless we clearly recognize this, we will surely
fail to see that the hierarchical mentality and class relationships that so thoroughly permeate
society give rise to the very idea of dominating the natural world.
Unless we realize that the present market society, structured around the brutally competitive
imperative of "grow or die," is a thoroughly impersonal, self-operating mechanism, we will
falsely tend to blame technology as such or population growth as such for environmental
problems. We will ignore their root causes, such as trade for profit, industrial expansion, and
the identification of "progress" with corporate self-interest. In short, we will tend to focus on
the symptoms of a grim social pathology rather than on the pathology itself, and our efforts will
be directed toward limited goals whose attainment is more cosmetic than curative.
While some have questioned whether social ecology has dealt adequately with issues of
spirituality, it was, in fact, among the earliest of contemporary ecologies to call for a sweeping
change in existing spiritual values. Such a change would mean a far-reaching transformation of
our prevailing mentality of domination into one of complementarity, in which we would see
our role in the natural world as creative, supportive, and deeply appreciative of the needs of
nonhuman life. In social ecology, a truly natural spirituality centers on the ability of an
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Business Ethics ­MGT610
VU
awakened humanity to function as moral agents in diminishing needless suffering, engaging in
ecological restoration, and fostering an aesthetic appreciation of natural evolution in all its
fecundity and diversity.
Thus social ecology has never eschewed the need for a radically new spirituality or mentality in
its call for a collective effort to change society. Indeed, as early as 1965, the first public
statement to advance the ideas of social ecology concluded with the injunction: "The cast of
mind that today organizes differences among human and other life-forms along hierarchical
lines of 'supremacy' or 'inferiority' will give way to an outlook that deals with diversity in an
ecological manner--that is, according to an ethics of complementarity."1 In such an ethics,
human beings would complement nonhuman beings with their own capacities to produce a
richer, creative, and developmental whole-not as a "dominant" species but as a supportive one.
Although this idea, expressed at times as an appeal for the "respiritization of the natural world,"
recurs throughout the literature of social ecology, it should not be mistaken for a theology that
raises a deity above the natural world or that seeks to discover one within it. The spirituality
advanced by social ecology is definitively naturalistic (as one would expect, given its relation
to ecology itself, which stems from the biological sciences), rather than supernaturalistic or
pantheistic.
To prioritize any form of spirituality over the social factors that actually erode all forms of
spirituality, raises serious questions about one's ability to come to grips with reality. At a time
when a blind social mechanism, the market, is turning soil into sand, covering fertile land with
concrete, poisoning air and water, and producing sweeping climatic and atmospheric changes,
we cannot ignore the impact that a hierarchical and class society has on the natural world. We
must earnestly deal with the fact that economic growth, gender oppressions, and ethnic
domination-not to speak of corporate, state, and bureaucratic interests-are much more capable
of shaping the future of the natural world than are privatistic forms of spiritual self-
regeneration. These forms of domination must be confronted by collective action and major
social movements that challenge the social sources of the ecological crisis, not simply by
personalistic forms of consumption and investment that often go under the rubric of "green
capitalism." We live in a highly cooperative society that is only too eager to find new areas of
commercial aggrandizement and to add ecological verbiage to its advertising and customer
relations.
Until these systems (such as racism, sexism, and social classes) are changed, we will be unable
to deal adequately with the environment. Eco-feminists, a related group of thinkers, sees the
key form of hierarchy connected to the destruction of the environment as the domination of
women by men. They believe that there are important connections between the domination of
women and the domination of nature­patterns of thinking, which justify and perpetuate the
subordination. This logic of domination sets up dualisms (artificial and natural, male and
female) where one of the pair is seen as stronger and more important. To solve our ecological
problems, we must first change these destructive modes of thinking.
According to the ethics of caring, the destruction of nature that has accompanied male
domination must be replaced with caring for and nurturing our relationships with nature and
other living things. Nature must be seen as an "other" that must be cared for, not tamed or
dominated. Thought-provoking as these approaches are, they are still too new and undeveloped
to give us specific direction.
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Business Ethics ­MGT610
VU
The Ethics of Conserving Depletable Resources
Conservation refers to the saving or rationing of natural resources for later use. In fact, even
pollution control can be seen as a form of conservation, since pollution consumes air and water.
However, generally, conservation refers to the saving of finite, depletable resources. The only
source of such resources is what has been left over from previous generations.
As we deplete the world's resources, there is unavoidably a smaller amount of them left for
future generations. If future generations have an equal right to the world's resources, then by
depleting them we are stealing what is actually theirs.
A number of writers have claimed that it is a mistake to think that future generations have
rights. They advance three main reasons to show this:
First, future generations cannot intelligently be said to have rights because they do not now
exist and may never exist. I may be able to think about future people, but I cannot hit them,
punish them, injure them, or treat them wrongly. Future people exist only in the imagination,
and imaginary entities cannot be acted on in any way whatsoever except in the imagination.
Similarly, we cannot say that future people possess things now when they do not yet exist to
possess or have them. Because there is a possibility that future generations may never exist,
they cannot "possess" rights.
Second, if future generations did have rights, we might be led to the absurd conclusion that we
must sacrifice our entire civilization for their sake. Suppose that each of the infinite number of
future generations had an equal right to the world's supply of oil. Then we would have to divide
the oil equally among them all, and our share would be a few quarts at the most. We would
then be put in the absurd position of having to shut down our entire Western civilization so that
each future person might be able to possess a few quarts of oil.
Third, we can say that someone has a certain right only if we know that he or she has a certain
interest that that right protects. The purpose of a right, after all, is to protect the interests of the
right holder, but we are virtually ignorant of what interests future generations will have. What
wants will they have?
John Rawls, on the other hand, argues that though it is unjust to impose heavy burdens on
present generations for the sake of the future, it is also unjust for present generations to leave
nothing for the future. We should ask ourselves what we can reasonably expect they might
want and, putting ourselves in their place, leave what we would like them to have left for us.
Justice, in short, requires that we hand over to our children a world in no worse condition than
the one we received ourselves.
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Table of Contents:
  1. INTRODUCTION:Business Issues
  2. INTRODUCTION (CONTD.)
  3. THEORY OF ETHICAL RELATIVISM
  4. MORAL DEVELOPMENTS AND MORAL REASONING
  5. MORAL REASONING:Arguments For and Against Business Ethics
  6. MORAL RESPONSIBILITY AND BLAME
  7. UTILITARIANISM:Utilitarianism: Weighing Social Costs and Benefits
  8. UTILITARIANISM (CONTD.):rule utilitarianism, Rights and Duties
  9. UNIVERSALIZABILITY & REVERSIBILITY:Justice and Fairness
  10. EGALITARIANS’ VIEW
  11. JOHN RAWLS' THEORY OF JUSTICE:The Ethics of Care
  12. THE ETHICS OF CARE:Integrating Utility, Rights, Justice, and Caring
  13. THE ETHICS OF CARE (CONTD.):Morality in International Contexts
  14. MORALITY IN INTERNATIONAL CONTEXTS:Free Markets and Rights: John Locke
  15. FREE MARKET & PLANNED ECONOMY:FREE TRADE THEORIES
  16. LAW OF NATURE:Theory of Absolute Advantage, Comparative Advantage
  17. FREE MARKETS AND UTILITY: ADAM SMITH:Free Trade and Utility: David Ricardo
  18. RICARDO & GLOBALIZATION:Ricardo’s Assumptions, Conclusion
  19. FREE MARKET ECONOMY:Mixed Economy, Bottom Line for Business
  20. COMPETITION AND THE MARKET:Perfect Competition
  21. PERFECT COMPETITION
  22. MONOPOLY COMPETITION:Oligopolistic Competition
  23. OLIGOPOLISTIC COMPETITION:Crowded and Mature Market
  24. OLIGOPOLIES AND PUBLIC POLICY:Ethic & Environment, Ozone depletion
  25. WORLDWATCH FIGURES:Population Year, Agriculture, Food and Land Use
  26. FORESTS AND BIODIVERSITY:The Ethics of Pollution Control
  27. THE ETHICS OF POLLUTION CONTROL:Toxic Chemicals in Teflon
  28. THE ETHICS OF POLLUTION CONTROL
  29. THE ETHICS OF POLLUTION CONTROL:Recommendations to Managers
  30. COST AND BENEFITS:Basis of social audit, Objectives of social audit
  31. COST AND BENEFITS:The Ethics of Conserving Depletable Resources
  32. COST AND BENEFITS:The Club of Rome
  33. THE ETHICS OF CONSUMER PRODUCTION AND MARKETING:DSA Comments
  34. THE ETHICS OF CONSUMER PRODUCTION AND MARKETING:Should Consumers Bear More Responsibility?
  35. THE CONTRACT VIEW OF BUSINESS' DUTIES TO CONSUMERS
  36. THE CONTRACT VIEW OF BUSINESS' DUTIES TO CONSUMERS:The Due Care Theory
  37. THE SOCIAL COSTS VIEW OF THE MANUFACTURER’S DUTIES
  38. ADVERTISING ETHICS:The Benefits of Advertising, The harm done by advertising
  39. ADVERTISING ETHICS:Basic Principles, Evidence, Remedies, Puffery
  40. ADVERTISING IN TODAY’S SOCIETY:Psychological tricks
  41. ADVERTISING IN TODAY’S SOCIETY:Criticism of Galbraith's Work
  42. ADVERTISING IN TODAY’S SOCIETY:Medal of Freedom
  43. ADVERTISING IN TODAY’S SOCIETY:GENERAL RULES, Substantiation
  44. ADVERTISING IN TODAY’S SOCIETY:Consumer Privacy, Accuracy
  45. THE ETHICS OF JOB DISCRIMINATION:Job Discrimination: Its Nature