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question : Do Friedman’s arguments about business’s moral imperative for profit stand up when you consider the prevalence of slave labour in the production of chocolate (nestle)?

Rationale: For the next 7 weeks of the course (weeks 6-12) each week’s lecture gives a contextual background to a set reading. That reading opens up a way of discussing many social issues where thoughtful moral reasoning could assist in finding a way forward. At the end of each lecture there will be a discussion question posted and your task is to compose an answer which critically engages with the reading, in a way which demonstrates your moral reasoning.

You do not have to use the concepts from week 1-5 as they have already been assessed, but you may. You will be marked on three key areas.

Clarity of answer

Familiarity and engagement with reading and lecture material

Demonstration of moral reasoning

Name:
ID:
HD
Clarity
The response displays an
exceptionally high level of clear, and
appropriately used scholarly
language. The response avoids
sophistication. The response chooses
a critical vocabulary that enhances the
depth of the arguments presented.
The organisation of ideas, spelling
and grammar are exceptional.
The response chooses the most
appropriate concept/s from the
courseand reading for the argument
being made. The response describes
and applies those concepts at an
exceptionally high level. The response
Engagement with
does not overload the paper with
lecture and
every concept from the course and
reading
reading, but makes an informed
decision about which is most
appropriate to their answer. The
response has identified unique
segments of the reading apart from
the main bullet points of the lecture.
The response is clearly based on the
author having read and reflected on
the required material. The response
displays a complex and unique
argument that is appropriate for the
Depth of Critical set question. There is a high level of
unique insight in the way the question
Argument
is answered. Highly nuanced
connections between ideas are made
and the author critically explores a
variety of opposing views, finding their
own voice in the debate.
D
C
The response displays a high level
of clear and appropriately used
scholarly language. The
organisation of ideas, spelling and
grammar are of a very high
standard.
The response displays a good
level of clear language. The
organisation of ideas, spelling
and grammar are above
satisfactory with very few errors.
The response chooses the most
appropriate concept/s from the
course for the argument being
made. The response describes and
applies those concepts at a high
level. The response does not
overload the paper with every
concept from the course, but makes
an informed decision about which is
most appropriate to their answer.
The response has identified unique
segments of the reading apart from
the main bullet points of the lecture.
The response chooses
appropriate concept/s from the
course for the argument being
made. The response describes
and applies those concepts at
good level. There is some
original insight in the answer, but
with too many concepts are
elaborated (sacrificing depth in
explanation), or the explanations
are undercooked. The response
has identified unique segments
of the reading apart from the
main bullet points of the lecture.
The response is clearly based
on the author having read and
The response is clearly based on
reflected on the required
the author having read and reflected
material. The response displays
on the required material. The
a complex and often insightful
response displays a complex and
argument that is appropriate for
insightful argument that is
the set question. There is a high
appropriate for the set question.
level of insight in the way the
There is a high level of insight in the
question is answered. There is
way the question is answered. The
some exploration and critique of
author makes intelligent connections
interconnected ideas, though
between ideas and considers a
this higher-level reasoning might
good array of contrasting views to
be short, unfollowed, or
make their argument.
unconnected to the main
argument of the paper.
P
F
Weighting
The response contains a
satisfactory level of clear
language. There might be some
issues with the organisation of
ideas, grammar, and/or spelling.
The response is unclear. The language is vague,
or inappropriate for the arguments being made.
There are serious organisation issues.
20
The response chooses
appropriate concept/s from the
course for the argument being
made. The response describes
and applies those concepts at
good level. The explanations are
at a satisfactory level – this
means that the answers are
correct but do not show depth to
understanding of the concepts
being described.
The response does not engage with the course
material at a satisfactory level. The response
chooses inappropriate concepts that don’t really
apply to the analysis, or the explanations do not
demonstrate understanding.
40
The response displays a
satisfactory level of insight in the
way the question is answered.
There is a sustained attempt to
use thoughtful premises to
support the conclusions. The
ideas might be fairly pedestrian,
and uncritically inserted without
consideration of other ideas.
The response does not display a satisfactory level
of depth. The premises might not support the
conclusions or the explanations might not be
adequately explained.
40
Total
0
% given
Coments
Ethical Thought
and Action
Week 11: Business Ethics
This week
• Brief return to virtue ethics…
• Corporations & responsibility
• What might a virtue ethics approach to business
look like? (deficiency, excess, and virtue)
Aristotelian Virtue
• Arête – ‘the good of something’ (purpose)
• Everything, (including people), have a purpose
according to Aristotle.
The function argument…
• Everything has a function.
• The good of any activity lies in a characteristic of
that activity.
• Eg. The good of a flute player is in playing the flute,
the good of a surfer is in surfing etc.
• This characteristic activity is called ergon.
An apple tree’s ergon
An apple tree’s ergon
An apple tree’s ergon
A lion’s ergon…
A lion’s ergon…
A lion’s ergon…
A lion’s ergon…
Human ergon…
Business ergon?
The Body Shop
Lego
Milton Friedman
Famous article – The Social Responsibility of Business is
to Increase its Profits (1970)
Key argument:
• The only social responsibility
of business is to increase its
profits within the confines of
the law.
“The businessmen believe that they are defending free
enterprise when they declaim that business is not concerned
‘merely’ with profit but also with promoting desirable ‘social’
ends; that business has a ‘social conscience’ and takes
seriously its responsibilities for providing employment,
eliminating discrimination, avoiding pollution and whatever
else may be the catchwords of the contemporary crop of
reformers. In fact they are—or would be if they or anyone
else took them seriously—preaching pure and unadulterated
socialism. Businessmen who talk this way are unwitting
puppets of the intellectual forces that have been
undermining the basis of a free society these past decades.”
– Friedman
Friedman on
Responsibility
• Responsibilities apply to individuals.
• The corporate executive’s responsibility in his
capacity as a businessman is to his employers (ie.
Stakeholders)
• That it is hard to exercise social responsibility in
business is a good thing. Forces people to take
responsibility for their own actions, and makes it
harder for them to exploit others for their own (selfish
or unselfish) ends.
But what if showing that
you’re socially responsible
is good for business?
• Friedman believes this is too short sighted.
• Reinforces already pervasive “view that pursuit of
profits is wicked and immoral and must be curbed
and controlled by external forces.”
• Attack on the free market which is underpinned by
values of voluntary cooperation and mutual
benefit.
Business and
Co-operation
• Friedman spelled out his vision of neoliberal ethics
in his documentary series Free to Choose.
• I want to consider Friedman’s use of the example
of Hong Kong.
• (The documentary was made in the 1980’s while
Hong Kong was British territory. It is now dated as
an example, but the argument about the market
is still worth considering)
• Leonard E. Read’s short story I, Pencil as well as
Friedman’s commentary upon it can be found here:
https://fee.org/resources/i-pencil/
In summary…
In a free society, Friedman argues, “there is one and
only one social responsibility of business—to use its
resources and engage in activities designed to
increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of
the game, which is to say, engages in open and free
competition without deception or fraud.”
• For Friedman, this is providing work where none
existed befoe
The Banking Royal
Commission
• Perhaps some of the activities of banks over the last
few years have been illegal.
• However, most of the commission’s findings about
unethical behaviour were legal.
o Some of the behaviour: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-12-01/royalcommission-simplified/10573010
From the final report
A case for moderation
• For Friedman, the impersonal nature of the free
market fosters mutual benefit and co-operation.
• In the case of the banking sector in Australia,
however, the impersonal nature ie. the failure to
consider humans as more than a means to profit
produced negative consequences.
Back to Nagel
• What this suggests is that individuals who accept
that a business has no social responsibility, see their
role in the business as also having no social
responsibility.
Working within
• Even within the market, there are non-profit seeking
forces which can direct company behaviour.
• Ethical investing
• Shareholder activism
• If one accepts the perfection of market freedom
then these are hinderances. If one does not, then
these are still not perfect responses.
Corporate Social
Responsibility
• Domestic and International law has changed since
Friedman’s wrote his essay.
• Many laws now mandate that companies act to
support social, and environmental improvement.
• It is debated whether or not having an internal CSR
policy improves profits in the long run. Meta-analysis
suggests the impact is neutral.
• Hence it is important to consider if CSR is necessary
beyond the consideration of profit?
o Changes to legislature might suggest that society does value CSR beyond
profit.

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