Responsibility in World Business: Managing Harmful Side-Effects of Corporate Activity

By Lene Bomann-Larsen; Oddny Wiggen | Go to book overview

6
The principle of double effect,
revised for the business context

Oddny Wiggen and Lene Bomann-Larsen

There are undoubtedly challenges related to adapting moral concepts from one context and one tradition to another. The attempt to adapt the principle of double effect (PDE) as it emerged within the just war tradition to the context of international business is no exception. Based on a consideration of the just war tradition, various discourses on corporate social responsibility and corporate governance, and international law as it relates to business, we have developed a revised PDE. We thus propose the following as a more suitable PDE for business ethical purposes:

Preamble: Negative side-effects do occur, even when businesses pursue legitimate
objectives by legitimate means. In creating sustainable value for their stake-
holders, businesses must ensure in dealing with the negative side-effects of their
activities that:
1. consultation with affected parties, as well as risk assessment, is carried out
prior to and during the business operation in order to identify negative side-
effects;
2. negative side-effects that arise from a business's operations are not made to
serve as means to achieving its legitimate objectives;
3. negative side-effects can be justified as proportionate to the legitimate objec-
tives;
4. active measures are taken to prevent or minimize negative side-effects;
5. the negative side-effects are inescapable – it is not possible to achieve the legit-
imate objectives with fewer or no side-effects.

-99-

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