Rethinking Business Ethics: A Pragmatic Approach

Rethinking Business Ethics: A Pragmatic Approach

Rethinking Business Ethics: A Pragmatic Approach

Rethinking Business Ethics: A Pragmatic Approach

Synopsis

Using classical American pragmatism, the authors provide a philosophical framework for rethinking the nature of the corporation--how it is embedded in its natural, technological, cultural, and international environments, emphasizing throughout its pervasive relational and moral dimensions. They explore the relationship of this framework to other contemporary business ethics perspectives, as well as its implications for moral leadership in business and business education.

Excerpt

The point of departure for this work is the philosophical movement known as classical American pragmatism. The development of this movement represents a historical period in American philosophy, spanning a particular time frame and including the particular doctrines of its five major contributors--Charles Peirce, William James, John Dewey, C. I. Lewis, and G. H. Mead. The attempt to get at its significance, however has been long and complex. Gradually, amid the confusions of the meaning and import of pragmatism, interest in the movement began to wane.

In recent years, interest in pragmatism has grown rapidly, from two interrelated directions. First, there is an increasing recognition that pragmatism, though coming before what is considered mainstream philosophy today, anticipated its problems and dilemmas, and offers a framework for moving beyond the impasses which they pose. For, pragmatism engages in a shattering attack on virtually all tile assumptions governing the philosophical tradition and the kinds of alternatives to which these assumptions gave rise, thus offering novel solutions to the assumptions, alternatives, dilemmas, and impasses of what is often considered "mainstream" philosophy today. These novel solutions cannot be understood as an eclectic synthesizing of traditional alternatives. As Mead so well warns, in a statement that is echoed in various ways throughout the writings of the classical American pragmatists, and that is applicable, with appropriate revisions of terms, to just about all the standard alternatives relevant to the issues they explore: "There is an old quarrel between rationalism and empiricism which can never be . . .

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