PHILOSOPHY'S ROLE VIS-A-VIS BUSINESS ETHICS

Note from the Editor. Richard Rorty's invited address to the 2005 annual meeting of the Society for Business Ethics prompted extensive comments from and discussion by those attending the meeting. In light of this, Professor Rorty's address is reprinted here, and is followed by invited responses from three past presidents of the Society for Business Ethics, and a brief concluding comment from Richard Rorty.

IS PHILOSOPHY RELEVANT TO APPLIED ETHICS? Invited Address to the Society of Business Ethics Annual Meeting, August 2005

Richard Rorty

Abstract: If, like Hegel and Dewey, one takes a historicist, anti-Platonist view of moral progress, one will be dubious about the idea that moral theory can be more than the systematization of the widely-shared moral intuitions of a certain time and place. One will follow Shelley, Dewey, and Patricia Werhane in emphasizing the role of the imagination in making moral progress possible. Taking this stance will lead one to conclude that although philosophy is indeed relevant to applied ethics, it is not more relevant than many other fields of study (such as history, law, political science, anthropology, literature, and theology). hilosophy has a glorious past and an uncertain future. That is why, when thinking about our role in intellectual life, we philosophy professors prefer to look backward. Doing so lets us see ourselves as the successors of Plato, St. Augustine, Spinoza, Kant, Marx, and Nietzsche. Those men imagined new shapes that the lives of individuals and communities might assume. Thinking of ourselves as their heirs helps us imagine that we might shape the human future. When we turn from the past to the present, however, we remember that we are not being paid to foment intellectual or social revolutions. We have been hired by colleges and universities to be responsible professionals, content to work within a well-defined area of expertise. As philosophy became one more academic discipline, it became harder for philosophers to do something bold and original. For the more © 2006. Business Ethics Quarterly, Volume 16, Issue 3. ISSN 1052-150X. pp. 369-380

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Despite occasional flare-ups. philosophical theories about the nature of reality and about the scope of the limits of human knowledge were still relevant to felt needs. The historicism that Marx took over from Hegel was thefirstradical break with Platonic essentialism. Judaism. such as the current assault on evolutionary biology. So the changes in the intellectual life of the West have. We no longer take for granted that all the members of our species share an unchanging essence. most Westerners who read books are content to let their view of the universe be shaped by the natural sciences. science has triumphed. That question has been replaced by two others. produced a spate of radically anti-Platonic philosophies. In the course of the past two centuries. the question "what is it to be a human being?"—"what makes human beings special?"—has lost its urgency. by most educated believers. Plato invented philosophy by postulating the existence of unchanging essences. The question of whether human beings were more than just clever animals remained urgent. so as not to conflict with the stories scientists tell. historians. It has become invisible to the general public. In recent times. Hegel. Since then. For thinkers like Hobbes. By and large. in the course of the last two centuries. welltrained. But we modems have come to think that there is no single Good Life for Man.370 BUSINESS ETHICS QUARTERLY original and imaginative a philosopher is. in a period when the modem research university was beginning to take shape. and has drifted off the radar screens of most intellectuals. and from an increased tolerance for human diversity. The principal reason for this marginalization is that the so-called "warfare between science and theology" has tapered off. Marx's thesis that philosophers should stop trying to understand the world and start trying to change it epitomized the intellectuals' new-found willingness to tum away from metaphysics in favor of politics. and Marx all confronted an urgent question: how can the moral idealism common to Platonism. and anthropologists have helped us reahze that the human future need not resemble the human past. Religious faith has been revised. was also philosophy's acme. and Chistianity survive affer we have accepted a materialist account of the way the universe works? What is the place of moral ideals in a clockwork universe? As long as those questions dominated intellectual life. The philosophers ofthe seventeenth and eighteenth centuries shared with Plato and Epicurus the assumption that the human situation was essentially the same at all times and places. The first is political: "How can we create a better world for our descendants to inhabit?" The second is existential: "What sort of person shall I try to become?" This change resulted from an increased awareness of the possibihty of radical historical change. the less she looks like a skilled. . there was an important role for philosophical theories to play. however. and that knowledge of this essence can help us decide what to do with ourselves. As long as the warfare between science and theology lasted. That period. novelists. The professionalization of philosophy began about two hundred years ago. disciplined professional. You cannot professionalize imaginativeness. philosophy has gradually lost prestige. Hume. the time of Hegel and Humboldt. Kant. Mill. Spinoza.

the Mongol horde was perfectly justified in gang-raping the women of Baghdad. given his other behefs. In the hundred-odd years since Nietzsche wrote. Saying that torture is absolutely wrong does nothing to still doubts about whether to save the city by torturing the terrorist. justification is. or Reason. But we know that slavery and torture are absolutely. Our best arguments against torture would probably not have budged the devout and learned prelates who ran the Holy Inquisition. these accusers say. than the Moral Law. The burden of all of them was pretty much the same: there are no unchanging essences to be grasped. Philosophers' claims to have Truth and Reason on their side resemble theologians' claims to know the will of God. So we have no use for the notion of a belief being made true by the world. Anti-Platonists like myself." and "postmodernism" have prohferated. misleadingly. to be sure. Anti-Platonists are often accused of relativism. invoking notions like "absoluteness" and "objectivity" does nothing to make them easier. there must be something that makes them so—if not the Will of God. Analogously. God has provided no algorithms for resolving tough moral dilemmas. We think that adding "absolute" to "wrong" or "objective" to "truth" is an empty rhetorical gesture. anti-Platonist movements with names like "pragmatism. Urging that there is something that makes actions wrong or moral behefs true is an empty gesture. Aristotle was perfectly justified in accepting a false theory. or that a certain astrophysical theory was true for Aristotle but false for Newton.Is PHILOSOPHY RELEVANT TO APPLIED ETHICS? 371 Nietzsche's existentiaHsm was the counterpart of Marxism at the level of the private individual. Doubting the existence of something transcultural and ahistorical that can provide guidance for moral choice." "existentialism. So." do not accept the correspondence theory of truth. the people sometimes described as "post-modem relativists. or some other secular surrogate for the divine. Though truth and wrongness are not relative notions. Anti-slavery arguments that we find completely persuasive would probably not have convinced Jefferson or Aristotle. It is just a way of pounding on the podium. only new ways of describing both ourselves and the universe to be invented. If there were such a thing as absolute justification. Everybody agrees that it is absolutely wrong to refuse sick children medical help. "let it be your virtue. amounts to denying the existence of absolute values. they argue. wrong. For what counts as justification. is always relative to the antecedent behefs of those whom one is seeking to convince. given their other behefs. that a certain practice is right in one culture and wrong in another. "If you have a virtue. The reason this turn of phrase is misleading is that all we really mean is that. objectively. Their behavior was." His point was that virtue not should be thought of as a matter of conforming to antecedent norms but rather of being faithful to one's own project of self-creation. either of actions or of beliefs. we could say that it was absolutely . and neither have the great secular philosophers. That is why we are somedmes tempted to say. but nobody agrees on how the doctor's bill is to be paid. For we have no way of getting in touch with this purported truth-maker save to seek coherence among our own moral intuitions. Such claims are advertising slogans rather than arguments. When decisions get tough. wrong." Nietzsche said.

Plato thought that we akeady had within us all the data needed for moral deliberation. For those of us who hold this view. We are no closer to absolute justification for our moral beliefs than was Genghis Khan. is that individuals become aware of more altematives. For purposes of having true beliefs about the movements of heavenly bodies. What can be justified to one audience cannot be justified to others. how can we make sense of the claim to make better decisions now than when we were callow adolescents? The best answer to these questions. The human race as a whole has become wiser as history has moved along. The Platonic idea that we can learn how to be morally infallible by seeking coherence among our beliefs survives in the Kantian idea that a Nazi or a mafioso could. One great divide in contemporary philosophy is between people who still believe something like this. John Dewey quoted with approval Shelley's dictum that morality only "arranges the elements that poetry has created. like me. It is the ability to come up with new ideas. A similar view is presupposed by philosophers who claim that training in philosophy permits you to become clearer about your moral concepts. and those who. There is no connection between skill at justifying one's beliefs—rhetorical effectiveness—and having the right beliefs. The source of these new altematives is the human imagination. Eor purposes of knowing whether either torture or sodomy is a moral abomination. however. Eor these philosophers. But there is no such thing. believe nothing of the sort. there is no particular connection between right action and clear thinking."' . got its start when Plato insisted that there was such a thing as absolute justification—that "the light of reason" was equally accessible to all reflective human beings. rather than the ability to get in touch with unchanging essences. break out of the culture in which he had been raised by detecting his own irrationality. you can escape from the limitations of your background by exercising your innate rational powers. We justify our actions and beliefs to each other by appealing to our own lights—to the intuitions fostered at our own time and place. There were clear-thinking Nazis and muddled saints. the obvious problem is how to think of moral progress. Whereas empirical inquiry into how things work depends on contingent availability of relevant evidence. that is the engine of moral progress. If there is nothing of the sort that Plato postulated—an underlying sense of right and wrong that is common to all human beings at all times and places—can we still say that we have made moral progress since the days of the Inquisition? If we do not have a faculty called "reason" that can be relied upon to help us make the right moral decisions. Justification is a relation between beliefs and other beliefs. as for Plato and Kant. The Mongols did the same. Being able to have the right beliefs and to do the right thing is largely a matter of luck—of being bom in a certain place and a certain time. I think. Aristotle was bom at a bad time and place and Newton at a better one. For us. and therefore wiser. as they grow older. if he reflected long enough. Philosophy.372 BUSINESS ETHICS QUARTERLY unjustified. all of us were bom into a better culture than were those who worked for the Inquisition.

if civilization endures. Our descendants will. The logicians talk mostly with each other. or in bio-medical ethics. social. the history of philosophy with the intellectual historians. Tbe other balf tend to specialize in metoethics—the study of metaphysical and epistemological questions relevant to judgments of value. and rarely with specialists in any of the other philosophical sub-fields. and cultural background of the great dead philosophers about whom they write. ." Tbis term is interpreted so as to cover pbilosopby of language and pbilosopby of mind—two specialties frequently described as "the core areas of philosophy. it helps to remember what people wbo take a PhD in philosophy actually leam. People witb views like mine are inclined to see training in philosophy as no better or worse a preparation for work in business etbics. When it comes to ethics. In thinking about the relevance of philosophy to applied ethics. Metaphysics and epistemology are no more relevant to applied ethics tban is astrophysics or neurophysiology. The best bistorians of philosophy are tbe ones who spend most of their time reading books by non-philosophers—books that fill them in on tbe political. Rather. about balf of those wbo specialize in tbisfieldspend at least half tbeir time reading books written by political scientists. We make progress by having more altematives to consider. or comparative literature. and ethics witb practically every other discipline in humanities and tbe social sciences. a matter of getting clearer about sometbing that was there all the time. and etbics. but we know mucb more about the possibilities open to buman beings than he did. they bave to take courses and pass examinations in four tields. ******************** Anyone wbo holds the view of moral progress I bave been offering will be dubious about the relevance of training in tbe academic discipline of philosophy to applied ethics. on this pragmatist view. the history of philosophy. rather tban of tbose judgments themselves. Typically. and morally better. We are as trapped in our time and place as Genghis Kban was in bis. be familiar with many more sucb possibilities. For advanced study in any of these fields helps the student to envisage new possibilities. The first of these is usually labeled "metapbysics and epistemology.Is PHILOSOPHY RELEVANT TO APPLIED ETHICS? 373 Moral progress is not. and bistorians. or theology.typically treated as peripheral. tban training in antbropology. Work in tbat subarea of philosophy revolves around tbe question "What is the place of value in a world of physical particles?" It is dominated by debates between tbose wbo tbink that true moral judgments are made tme by something real and those who do not. We philosophers share symbolic logic with the mathematicians. law professors. tban we ourselves. we make ourselves into new kinds of people by inventing new forms of human life." The other threefields. or intellectual history. The same goes for metaetbics. or social psycbology. are logic. They will thereby bave become wiser.

We hope that they will stop identifying moral duty with obedience either to divine commands or to what Platonists and Kantians think of as "the commands of reason. . the right question is not "what is real?" or "what is rational?" but "what is it useful to talk about?" If talking about gravitational attraction helps us predict the movements of heavenly bodies. responsibility. describes his fellow naturalists as holding that "A naturalistic. on their view.374 BUSINESS ETHICS QUARTERLY But that dispute is as irrelevant to any practical issue as the dispute between those who claim that free will is an illusion and those who claim that it is real. we quietists protest that ethical deliberation serves one purpose and talk about physical particles a quite different purpose. People like me think that we should try to move out from under Plato's shadow. which shows us how we came to think there were such things as philosophical problems and philosophical methods in the first place. biology and neuroscience. We quietists think that the main task of philosophy these days should be to complete the process of secularizing culture—to convince people to stop looking for God-surrogates. Brian Leiter accurately describes the position of Wittgensteinian quietists like myself when he writes that. and stop worrying about the nature of reality or the possibility of knowing the true nature of the real. So if quietism replaced naturalism as the dominant mode of philosophical thought. freedom. philosophy becomes a kind of therapy. dissolving philosophical problems rather than solving them. One way it dissolves them is through the history of philosophy."^ Naturalists like Pettit see the contemporary Anglophone philosophical community as split between naturalists and quietists. There is no reason why vocabularies developed for these two different purposes should mesh. we need neither a theory about the ultimate nature of reality nor one about the scope and limits of human knowledge. . On the quietist view. . makes "philosophy today probably more challenging." So when the naturalists profess puzzlement about how justice andfi-eedomfitinto a world made up entirely of electrons and protons. [such as] consciousness. Philosophy professors who take an interest in metaethics typically describe themselves as "naturalists. and this challenges us to look for where in that world there can be room for phenomena . the areas of philosophy presently thought of as "core" gradually would wither away. as Bentham said it was. Philip Pettit. "nonsense on stilts." The difficulty of this question."' That is a good description of my own metaphilosophical outlook. and more difficult. then there is no point in asking whether gravity is a real entity or a heuristic fiction. and no need for them to be linked up. there is no point in asking whether human beings really do have the enumerated rights or whether rights-talk is. virtue and the like. goodness. If the Helsinki Declaration of Human Rights seems likely to form the basis for a global consensus about the limits of governmental power over individuals. more or less mechanical image of the universe is imposed on us by cumulative development in physics. "Philosophy has no distinctive methods and philosophy can solve no problems." For us quietists. So we need neither epistemology in general or metaethics in particular. than it has ever been. Pettit continues." One of them.

political. Aquinas. So. The history of philosophy is of little value when studied in isolation from social. Let me now try to relate the point of view I have been sketching to trends of thought within business ethics. Moral philosophy that does not bear on questions about whether and how to change our political and social institutions is equally pointless. We can stop treating Kant and Mill as mighty opposites." This realization. It would mean reading Mill as having helped us realize that morality should stop trying to regulate sexual behavior and concentrate on the need for individual diversity. and view them as social engineers who tackled different jobs at different sites. if we quietists eventually win out over the naturalists. Werhane says that she realized that "ignorance of moral theory and lack of moral reasoning skills" were not enough to explain "why ordinary. and Mill will be deeper and wider. Kant. but as people who helped create such intuitions. there will be little room for the idea of specifically philosophical expertise."^ I suspect that . and advanced logic to the mathematicians. Then all that would remain of the traditional four fields of philosophy would be the history of philosophy and moral philosophy. and new social Utopias in which human beings might better flourish. The only distinctive characteristic of our profession will be that we philosophy professors will still have a thorough acquaintance with a particular set of great dead thinkers. It lets us see Mill's arguments against the subordination of women as a much more important contribution to Westem philosophy than the refinements he made in Bentham's original formulation of utilitarian ethics. and economic history.Is PHILOSOPHY RELEVANT TO APPLIED ETHICS? 375 What would training in philosophy look like after a quietist victory? It is easy to imagine elementary logic being handed over to the rhetoric and communication department. she says. intelligent managers engage in questionable activities and why these activities are encouraged or even instigated by the climate or culture of companies they manage. Adopting this attitude toward the mighty dead would mean reading Kant as having offered a way of coming to terms with Newton and with the French Revolution while preserving all that was worth saving in Christianity. But I am inclined to adopt a more radical stance than hers. decent. led her to realize that "something else was involved: a paucity of what I have come to label 'moral imagination. The emphasis I have been placing on the role of imagination follows a line of thought familiar from the work of Patricia Werhane. Our knowledge of Plato. and most thoroughly intertwined with other disciplines.'"" Her book argues that "moral imagination is a necessary but not sufficient condition for creative managerial decision-making. Those of us who agree with Shelley that the great instrument of the moral good is the imagination treat the great dead moral philosophers not as people who put forward theories that can be tested against the data provided by contemporary moral intuitions. But these are the areas that are already least professionalized. propounding incompatible moral theories. They did so by dreaming up new ways of living an individual human life.

ever thought very hard about what it would be like to have been bom a woman. Law schools and philosophy departments both provide excellent training in distinction-drawing. We have no trouble treating such people decently. When it comes to "moral reasoning skills. I have argued in the past'* that an increase in benevolence—^in willingness to take the needs of others into account—is possible only when people have enough security and leisure to imagine what it must be like to be someone quite different from themselves. Except for the odd sociopath. but perhaps not quite so much rape. and straights in the shoes of gays.376 BUSINESS ETHICS QUARTERLY it may. The principles formulated by thinkers like Kant. The only skill I can think of that might fill the bill is the ability to proliferate distinctions as needed. women might not have had to wait quite so long to get the vote. There is no teachable skill that will help you sort out your moral intuitions so as to come to the right conclusion. None of the three. or merely framed by a set of rules or rule-governed concerns. Although an acquaintance with moral theory may sometimes come in handy. Neither law school nor philosophy school can be relied upon to improve a student's moral character. for example. Mill. masters to put themselves in the shoes of slaves. But moral progress occurs when benevolence is stretched to cover people whom those exercising power had never really thought of as members of the moral community. or in a very different situation than their own. Had Kant been able to take Mary Wollstonecraft's book seriously. Such exercises in imaginative sympathy have been essential to moral progress. but it does little to help with the tough cases—the ones where intuitions conflict. but we are able to envisage possibihties for human hfe that never crossed their minds. That stretching is the work of what Werhane calls "the moral imagination. owners in the shoes of workers." we find ourselves imagining changes in institutions and practices that . We do not have better moral theories than these people did. except when doing so would entail too great a sacrifice on our own part."' I would argue that an increase in this ability is what has made us better people than Genghis Khan. nor are we more skillful at moral reasoning." Whenever we widen the circle of people who we think of as "much like ourselves. and Rawls provide handy little summaries of various subsets of our moral intuitions. Had Genghis Khan done so." I am less certain than Werhane that there are such things. or limited by its operative mental models.* Invoking such principles speeds deliberation. But developing greater skill in this area is as likely to lead us to do bad things as it is to do good things. I think of moral imagination not as a supplement to moral theory and moral reasoning skills. in fact. Werhane defines "moral imagination" as "the ability in particular circumstances to discover and evaluate possibilities not merely determined by that circumstance. or Aristotle. Such proliferation permits us to reinterpret principles and rules so as to make them say what we want. be sufficient as well. but as pretty much all you need. the Mongol occupation of Baghdad might have included just as much plunder. we all feel mildly benevolent toward some people—the people most like ourselves. you can usually get along quite well without it. Consider what happened when men began to thitik about what it must be like to be a woman. or Kant.

and in China? How else might one grasp the implications of what Joanna Ciulla describes as the mass layoffs. and Tom Wolfe. Sinclair Lewis. But what Nash calls "the importance of narrative as a moral medium" may be less widely acknowledged.Is PHILOSOPHY RELEVANT TO APPLIED ETHICS? 377 would serve the hitherto neglected needs of these newly enrolled members of our moral community. Stories about what happens to Chinese peasants who become illegal residents of Shanghai are essential to understanding the globalization of the economy. I suspect. suitably complemented by horror stories about business villains. are essential to understanding the relation between contemporary American business and American society as a whole. Theodore Dreiser. or to accept punishments meted out by a female judge.and what Laura Nash calls "context-specific guidelines such as the Sullivan principles. on the one hand. some plantation owners began asking whether the economy of the South might nor survive the end of chattel slavery. That view seems a plausible corollary of Werhane's claims for the role of the imagination. . I should imagine.'^ How else understand the relation between capital and labor in the contemporary US—a country in which eleven million illegals who are available for hire at ludicrous wages can claim no protection from the police? Stories about crawling across miles of desert in the hope of making it to Los Angeles. When—to use Werhane's leading example—corporate executives leamed about what Aaron Feuerstein did at Maiden Mills. they began to revise their notions about how such crises might be dealt with. . whether historical orfictional. Werhane's way of thinking chimes with Ronald Duska's claim that "Stories and hagiography will be the business ethics of the new millennium. After reading Dickens and Zola. some factory owners began to rethink their ideas about the relations of labor and management. or about what became of all those laid-off white men in suits. in Japan. one might continue. The two most useful tools for such work.'"" The importance of drawing up such guidelines is. in the US. are narratives. Ayn Rand. business ethicists might do better to think of themselves as social engineers working on site-specific projects. Such stories will do the same sort of work that was done in the past by the novels of Dickens and Zola. come to understand differences in the relation between govemment and business in Germany."' I take Duska to be suggesting that the principal products of the business ethics community should be. Instead of discussing definitions of the virtues or candidates for the role of a universally valid principle. and to envisage altemative modes of production. When theyfinishedreading Uncle Tom's Cabin. Executive autobiographies that . Yet I am sure she is right when she says that "The field of business ethics needs to explore and develop modes of story. How else to understand the existence of Mexican slave labor in the middle of Brooklyn?"" How else. not to mention those of Jack London. . When they read Harriet Taylor. some influential British males began wondering what it might be like to sit in Parliament next to a woman. Then they began musing on what might need to be done to make such novelties feasible. uncontroversial. of "middle-aged white men in suits by 'field-of-dreams' companies" like AT&T and IBM. inspiring stories about business heroes.

as assistant to a regional sales manager or as a PhD in philosophy. MBAs. "If we want to know what tbe right ethical principles are. Nobody." '* I take this to mean that wefirstdream up a sketch of a better world. rather than from rational reflection or from empirical discoveries. and perhaps a little more than most. as a congressional staffer or a classical philologist. so the business etbics community should welcome people with as many different backgrounds as possible. No particular training is required to dig out and to narrate such stories. Given what I have said already. I can sum up my answer to my title question by saying: philosophy is as relevant as lots of other academic disciplines to applied ethics. The business etbics community. and PbDs in every discipline under the sun. It seems to me that tbe most difficult task that faces us at the present time is finding a substitute for the communist Utopia that Marx envisaged. might bring that world into existence. and only then try to formulate some principles which. Over time saints and artists and philosophers and managers too will make us rethink what our interests are. in unpredictable ways.378 BUSINESS ETHICS QUARTERLY are honest chronicles of events and decisions. RNs. as Hartman says. Millions of honest and brave men and women died trying to bring it into existence. and a novelist's talent at spinning it. So do corporate histories. Tbese cbanges will come from the creative imagination. Rational argumentation about moral issues always lags behind. Reason can only follow paths tbat the imagination has broken. serve tbe same purposes. Nobody now bas doubts about tbe need for market economies. we mustfirstknow what the good community—not the ideal community. does not need people witb a tborougb knowledge of moral theory as mucb as it needs people who have a joumaUst's nose for a good story. it is obvious tbat I agree witb Hartman when he says "some of our central ethical principles are more ephemeral than we may have supposed."'' Hartman and I both make much of the fact that our sense of the possibilities open for human beings bas changed as history bas rolled along. I suspect. and will go right on changing. So I doubt tbat it matters whether a business etbicist starts adult life as an accountant or an anthropologist. tbey depend on how people are motivated and will change as people's motivation changes. rather than mere public relations exercises. if acted upon. but the best we can tbink of—^is like. Visions of that Utopia stirred the imagination of half tbe world for more than a hundred years. Just as hospital ethics committees now include MDs. But the unfaimess produced by tbe operation of tbose markets is just as appalling as tbe Marxists said it was. ******************** I would like to close my remarks by glossing a few sentences from Ed Hartman's Organizational Ethics and the Good Life. . For whether a narrative is historical or fictional does not matter as much as whether it enables the reader to put herself in tbe shoes botb of those making difficult business decisions and of those affected by such decisions. Tbe collapse of communism has left us witbout any vision of comparable scope and power. It follows fi'om this view tbat. but not much more.

I hope that now. at the beginning of the twenty-first century. at least for that bdef shining moment in US history that historians now describe as the Great Leveling. 3. Quietism. and the Role of Philosophy" in The Future For Philosophy. Utopian scenarios for the formation of a morally decent global society. businessmen like Henry Ford imagined ways in which the US might become a relatively classless society. Patricia Werhane. These men and women are the people with the best sense of the directions in which economic forces are presently driving the nations. Ibid. has yet produced a plausible scenario in which this unfairness is gradually rectified. The quotation is from Shelley's "A Defence of Poetry. 2. 348. 4. it is unlikely that such a society will ever come into existence. Yet both of these contrasts between social classes within individual nations seem insignificant when compared with that between the average life-chances of a child bom in either the US or China and those of a child bom in the backwoods of Benin or of Bolivia. The vast majority of the human race remains at the mercy of jungle capitalism. If it widens much further. living without hope.Is PHILOSOPHY RELEVANT TO APPLIED ETHICS? 379 to my knowledge. and of the possibilities that remain open for both govemments and business enterprises." in The Later Works of John Dewey. from eight hundred million Chinese peasants. Brian Leiter. shopping till they drop.. 5. . ix. make possible global social justice. At the beginning of the twentieth century. The sorts of horrors described by Dickens and Zola are still with us." wiiere Shelley also writes that "The great instrument of moral good is the imagination. vol. "Art As Experience. far down the road. 2004). Ford. Moral Imagination and Management Decision Making (Oxford: Oxford University Press. at least a few executives of the great multinational corporations are thinking about the need to create a global economy that will. The gap between the rich and the poor in the US is steadily widening. Philip Pettit. hke FDR and Walter Reuther. 10 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press. Brian Leiter (Oxford: Oxford University Press. Nothing that has happened in the last hundred years would lead Marx to revise his dictum that the history of the human race is the history of class struggle. and in which social justice becomes possible on a global scale. "Introduction" to The Future of Philosophy. "Existentialism. of where the real levers of power are to be found. gUmpsed possibilities for industrial capitahsm that had been beyond Marx's and Lenin's imagination. both American democratic institutions and American imperial power will be in danger. ed. Perhaps the business ethics community will provide an environment in which such dreams are encouraged. 306. 13. If none of them are dreaming up idealistic. Notes L John Dewey. Some of those dreams actually came true. Justified resentment at this unfairness is quite likely to produce social and political chaos. 1999)." 2. 1987). But that gap is trivial compared to the one that separates eighty million middle-class Chinese urbanites.

195-214. Truth and Progress (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. I have defended this view of moral principles in "Ethics Without Principles.380 BUSINESS ETHICS QUARTERLY 6. 2004)." both included in Richard Rorty." in New Essays on the History of Autonomy: A Collection Honoring J." an essay included in my Philosophy and Social Hope (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. ed. 2002)." Business Ethics Quarterly 10(1) (January 2000): 283. 9-22. B. "On Getting to the Future First. Ibid. ed. Natlies Brender and Larry Krasnoff (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. See "Human rights. Ron Bontekoe and Marietta Stepaniants (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press." in Justice and Democracy: Cmss-Cultural Perspectives. 14. Rationality and Sentimentality" and "Feminism and Pragmatism. 8. . See also "Trapped between Kant and Dewey: The Current Situation of Moral Philosophy. 12. Ronald Duska.. 1996). Moral Imagination. "Business Ethics: Oxymoron or Good Business?" Business Ethics Quarterly 10(1) (January 2000): 128. 282." Business Ethics Quarterly 10( 1) (January 2000): 54. See also "Justice as a Larger Loyalty. 1998).. 13. 9. 111. Organizational Ethics and the Good Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press. Ibid. Laura Nash. 93. 85. 11. 1997). 10. 7. Joanna CiuUa. Hartman. Schneewind. Werhane. Edwin M. "Intensive Care for Everyone's Least Favorite Oxymoron: Narrative in Business Ethics.

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