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Friday, August 5, 2011

Is Corporate Social Responsibility Ethical?

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is typically thought to be a topic in the field of business ethics. If a company is socially responsible, it is typically presumed to be ethical in being socially responsible. Solidifying this attribution, some scholars of CSR have even sought to explicitly base it on specific ethical principles. However, contrasting a corporate policy with societal norms or specifying how corporations can get in line with them is not to provide an ethical justification.  Even if a societal norm is consistent with an ethical principle, the norm itself is something that is, rather than a justification for what ought to be. To attempt to derive ought from is is known as the naturalistic fallacy. It is like getting what ought to be from a melon ripening in a field. Is does not imply or justify ought.

This essay has been incorporated into the introduction in Cases of Unethical Business, which is available in print and as an ebook at Amazon.