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"THE ENVIRONMENT, THE MORALIST, THE CORPORATION AND ITS CULTURE" George G. Brenkert Abstract: Contemporary society faces a wide range of environmental prob- lems. In what ways might business be part of the solution, rather than the problem? The Moralist Model is one general response. It tends to focus on particular corporations which it treats as moral agents operating within our common moral system. As a consequence, it claims that, with various (usually modest) changes, corporations may become environ- mentally responsible. This paper contends, on the contrary, that business has its own special "ethics," which relates not simply to the internal nature of the corporation but also to the corporate (free market) system. Given this special ethics, business cannot in general be environmentally responsible in the manner that the Moralists demand. Instead, more far-reaching changes are needed within corporations and the economic system to promote environmental responsibility. Though the requisite changes are significant, there are forces pushing in the direction which the paper identifies. nPHREE observations serve as the springboard for this paper. Each one has X been nicely formulated by others. The first observation is that we face any number of environmental problems some of which are terribly serious. In 1988 Albert Gore remarked that "The fact that we face an ecological crisis without any precedent in historic times is no longer a matter of any dispute worthy of recognition.' The question, he continued, is not whether there is a problem but how we will address it (Hoffman, 1991: 170). The environmental crisis Gore referred to includes problems which range from the spectacular—such as the oil spill of the Exxon Valdez, Occidental Petroleum and Love Canal, Silver Bay Mining and the pollution of Lake Supe- rior, depletion of the ozone layer, and global warming—to the mundane, such as the cotton industry's fight against tough standards on cotton dust (Jackall, 1983: 129), Manville's handling of asbestos, the auto industry's fight against tougher pollution and fuel efficiency standards, and so on. This list could quite obviously go on for some time. Some environmental problems relate to pollution, others concern the deple- tion of resources. Some entail direct moral obligations, others involve morally desirable, but not obligatory, courses of action that business might take. Some of these problems and their real (or potential) magnitude are unique to contem- ©1995. Business Ethics Quarterly, Volume 5, Issue 4. ISSN 1052-150X. 0675-0697.

The Environment, the Moralist, the Corp and Its Culture

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Page 1: The Environment, the Moralist, the Corp and Its Culture


George G. Brenkert

Abstract: Contemporary society faces a wide range of environmental prob-lems. In what ways might business be part of the solution, rather than theproblem? The Moralist Model is one general response. It tends to focuson particular corporations which it treats as moral agents operatingwithin our common moral system. As a consequence, it claims that, withvarious (usually modest) changes, corporations may become environ-mentally responsible.

This paper contends, on the contrary, that business has its own special"ethics," which relates not simply to the internal nature of the corporationbut also to the corporate (free market) system. Given this special ethics,business cannot in general be environmentally responsible in the mannerthat the Moralists demand. Instead, more far-reaching changes are neededwithin corporations and the economic system to promote environmentalresponsibility. Though the requisite changes are significant, there are forcespushing in the direction which the paper identifies.

n P H R E E observations serve as the springboard for this paper. Each one hasX been nicely formulated by others. The first observation is that we face any

number of environmental problems some of which are terribly serious. In 1988Albert Gore remarked that "The fact that we face an ecological crisis withoutany precedent in historic times is no longer a matter of any dispute worthy ofrecognition.' The question, he continued, is not whether there is a problem buthow we will address it (Hoffman, 1991: 170).

The environmental crisis Gore referred to includes problems which rangefrom the spectacular—such as the oil spill of the Exxon Valdez, OccidentalPetroleum and Love Canal, Silver Bay Mining and the pollution of Lake Supe-rior, depletion of the ozone layer, and global warming—to the mundane, such asthe cotton industry's fight against tough standards on cotton dust (Jackall, 1983:129), Manville's handling of asbestos, the auto industry's fight against tougherpollution and fuel efficiency standards, and so on. This list could quite obviouslygo on for some time.

Some environmental problems relate to pollution, others concern the deple-tion of resources. Some entail direct moral obligations, others involve morallydesirable, but not obligatory, courses of action that business might take. Someof these problems and their real (or potential) magnitude are unique to contem-

©1995. Business Ethics Quarterly, Volume 5, Issue 4. ISSN 1052-150X. 0675-0697.

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porary business, while others represent ongoing environmental problems eachsociety faces. Individually, environmental problems may vary a great deal inseriousness. Collectively, I will assume, they carry significant implications forbusiness, government and society.

The second observation is that many of the environmental problems we con-front are linked with prominent, mainstream, American corporations. In short,problems of the environment do not simply attach to a few renegade corpora-tions, but to mainline American business. Kenneth Andrews recently asked, in abroader but relevant context, "Why is business ethics a problem that snares notjust a few mature criminals or crooks in the making but a host of apparently goodpeople who lead exemplary private lives while concealing information aboutdangerous products or systematically falsifying costs?" (Andrews, 1990: 99).'Indeed, why is it that major, mainstream American corporations are so deeplycaught up in the very environmental problems which our society needs to solve?How can business be part of the solution, rather than the problem?

There are two standard responses to this situation. The Economist Model urgesbusiness to seek high levels of profit within the rules of the game which society,through its government, lays down. If business is to act in certain environmentalways, then government should say so. Otherwise, business should pursue itsproper end of producing goods and services at a profit. High levels of profit, not(environmental) good deeds, are business's responsibility. It is the view de-fended by those such as Milton Friedman, Albert Carr, and Theodore Levitt.

Second, the Moralist Model contends that businesses are moral agents whichought not simply to follow the law, but rather to act morally beyond what thelaw demands. Corporations must recognize that they have social and/or moralresponsibilities to the environment. Because they have failed to acknowledgeand act on these environmental responsibilities, we have at least some of theenvironmental problems we do. If, on the contrary, corporations would actresponsibly in this broader manner, they would take an important step towardsresolving our environmental problems.^

Though I believe that the Economist Model must be rejected, I cannot examinein this paper its shortcomings. Instead, I wish to focus on the Moralist Model.This model also has serious shortcomings in that it demands of business what itcannot, at least in its present form, fulfill. I do not deny that Moralists speak ofchanges that business must make in order to meet their prescriptions. What I doassert, however, is that the situation is much more demanding than they recog-nize. Much greater and more extensive changes will be required in order forcorporations to meet the moral and environmental demands Moralists make.

Accordingly, I will contend that business has its own special "ethics," whichrelates not simply to the internal nature of the corporation but also the corporate(free market) system. Further, this special ethics promotes policies and actionswhich are environmentally dangerous. Given this special ethics, business cannotin general simply adopt moral principles or be environmentally responsible inthe manner that the Moralists demand.^

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Consequently, we need to reach within corporations and the economic systemto change this ethics and its corresponding structure. Unless we focus on thisarea of the issue concerning the environment, other differences between envi-ronmentalists, e.g., whether we should adopt a homocentric or a biocentric view,will be matters of indifference, if not cynicism, because the implications ofeither environmental approach need not be in the interest of this or that corpo-ration or even the corporate/business system itself (qua business system). Fi-nally, though the requisite changes are significant, there are forces pushing inthese directions which need to be encouraged.

This brings me to a third observation. Hazel Henderson contends that "thefurther one is drawn into environmental issues, the more the truth—long recog-nized by environmentalists—emerges. Environmentalism implies nothing lessthan a major emergent philosophy, global in scope, that challenges virtuallyevery prior Western philosophical system" (Henderson, 1990: 287). I believethat Henderson is correct and that what she says applies to Western businesscorporations as well.

The Moralist Model argues that, in addition to its fiduciary responsibilities toits stockholders, businesses have various social and moral responsibilities,among which are included environmental responsibilities. Because businesseshave not recognized and institutionalized such responsibilities they get intoproblems with the environment. Hence, business must recognize and institution-alize these responsibilities. Then many problems of the environment will de-crease, if not be resolved.'*

Moralists take diverse approaches. First, there is the substantive approach whichportrays, derives, defends and/or justifies various moral maxims, principles, valuesand ideals according to which business should operate with respect to the environ-ment. Holmes Rolston, for example, offers a number of maxims which businessleaders should consider in directing corporate activities (Rolston, 1984). MichaelHoffman argues that business must respect "the intrinsic value of animal and plantlife and even other natural objects that are integral parts of ecosystems" (Hoffman,1991: 182). These are but two of many who take this approach.

Second, there is the process approach. Kenneth Goodpaster lays out a methodof ethical decision making which he calls PASCAL (Goodpaster, 1990). Hisargument is that if businesses would follow the various steps of perception,analysis, synthesis, choice, action and learning, then they would develop anenvironmental conscience within the corporation (Goodpaster, 1990).

In either case, the Moralist Model contends that corporations do have moral(or social) responsibilities to the environment. Thus, Rolston contends that"business leaders ought not to be concerned merely with obeying the law. Theywill want to be sensitive to the right and wrong that underlie, or should underliethe law.... But how can we decide right or wrong in such cases? That is thecentral question that demands our attention" (Rolston, 1984: 325).

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Two caveats are appropriate at this point. First, the strength of the moral orenvironmental responsibilities attributed to corporations may vary from Moral-ist to Moralist. Such moral demands may run a wide gamut, from extremelyweak to the strongest demands that a deep ecologist might impose. I will assumethat, in general, the environmental demands of the Moralist Model fall some-where in between. Even as such, it is important to note that they are ratherstrong. Hoffman urges a biocentric environmental ethic on business (Hoffman,1991: 178). Goodpaster suggests the need for a "global consciousness" thatwould derive from a corporate (environmental) conscience, which he charac-terizes as "a practical surrender of self-centered thinking" (Goodpaster, 1990:38).^ And French argues that only corporate entities can be assigned the respon-sibility of protecting the environment for future generations (French, 1990: 9).These views, we should recognize, demand that corporations engage in activitieswhich not only do not always serve the self-interest (certainly not the short-termself-interest) of the corporation but also involve a substantial departure fromtraditional corporate modes of operation. In short. Moralists assign rather strongenvironmental responsibilities to corporations.

My second caveat concerns some unclarity within the Moralist Model as towhat might follow from its acceptance. At a minimum, it would seem. Moralistsmust believe that this is a way to (partially) resolve the environment problem.Hoffman suggests this in arguing for business's environmental responsibility:"activities which affect the environment should not be left up to what we, actingas consumers, are willing to tolerate or accept" (Hoffman, 1991: 174). What weneed is corporate moral leadership (Ibid.).

I wish to challenge this view, not because I disagree with what it says, but withwhat it does not say. My contention is that business is not in a position to be themoral agent which is required by the preceding demands. Since it cannot be theappropriate moral agent, the moral demands of the Moralist Model are (tovarying degrees) inappropriate. My challenge is twofold.

First, Moralists tend to treat businesses like ordinary moral agents in twosenses. They imply, on the one hand, that a wide range of moral responsibilitiesis open to and possible for business. Hoffman, for example, comments that "weshould promote business ethics, not because good ethics is good business, butbecause we are morally required to adopt the moral point of view in all ourdealings—and business is no exception. In business, as in all other humanendeavors, we must be prepared to pay the costs of ethical behavior" (Hoffman,1991: 176). In addition. Moralists claim that corporations can and should sub-scribe to the same moral point of view that ordinary (human) moral agents do.Moralists may recognize that corporations have special responsibilities thatordinary moral agents do not have.^ But then physicians and lawyers haveresponsibilities that other ordinary moral agents also do not have. The point isthat Moralists hold that corporations and ordinary moral agents both fall withinthe same moral point of view.^

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On the contrary, I suggest, corporations are not similarly susceptible to moralresponsibilities in this manner. The dynamics of formal social systems are notsufficiently similar to those of individuals acting within informal systems toallow Moralists to treat them like ordinary moral agents. Corporations andindividual moral agents differ in distinct ways such that we cannot, at present,view both of them within the same moral point of view or as similarly account-able for environmental responsibilities.

Second, by focusing on particular corporations or businesses, the MoralistModel neglects the system which defines the corporations that are part of it. TheMoralist approach treats the problem on the level of the particular institution,not the system of business institutions. It tends to demand that each corporationexercise a moral will, rather than to focus on the need to restructure the systemof which they are a part. As such it assumes that the constraints that are part ofoperating within this system do not tend to prevent individual businesses fromacting on moral grounds. Once again, I wish to draw attention to these con-straints.

As a consequence, I contend that the Moralist Model can have only limitedsuccess as a moral doctrine—indeed, much more limited than it realizes andmuch less than it needs for its proposal to serve as a significant part of thesolution to the problems of the environment. On the contrary, only to the extentthat significant changes in corporations and corporate society occur, could thisModel be more effective.

Two qualifications are appropriate at this point. First, I do not deny that avariety of instances may be cited where this or that corporation has acted mor-ally. But here our concern is with environmental questions which raise vastlymore difficult issues for corporate moral behavior than allowing communityorganizations to use company auditoriums, contributing to a local school, orsponsoring the clean up of trash along a stretch of river. Further, we must lookto the system level if the Moralist Model is to have any effect. It is with corpo-rations as they operate within the corporate (or business) system that we shouldbe concerned, not simply this or that corporation or business.

Second, though Moralists do speak about the importance of institutionalizingethics within the corporation to make adoption of their social responsibilitieseffective (for example, they speak about codes of ethics, ethics ombudsmen, andethics hotlines), their major efforts focus on the nature of corporate social andmoral responsibilities.* They give no indication that such changes as they men-tion are needed prior to attributing those responsibilities to corporations. Themodifications they note are primarily to ensure that corporations fulfill theresponsibilities they otherwise have.^ Given these assumptions, they proceed toidentify the environmental responsibilities of business (or the methods of arriv-ing at these responsibilities) and ask business to follow them. The argument ofthis paper is that something much more thoroughgoing is required. In short, Iwish to suggest that we revisit the old maxim that "ought" implies "can" beforewe continue to attribute moral environmental responsibilities to corporations.

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The preceding has simply leveled an attack on the Moralist view on the basisof two different assertions against the way in which Moralists have proceededto impose or attribute moral environmental responsibilities to corporations. Thischarge and its bases must now be defended.

Almost a quarter century ago, Albert Carr argued that business operates ac-cording to a "special ethics" which does not (or should not) recognize the moralresponsibilities Moralists attribute to business (Carr, 1968). His article has beenmuch maligned by Moralists and many others as well. I find myself in theawkward position of agreeing (at least in part) with Carr rather than his critics.However, I agree with Carr's view for reasons and ends quite different than his.Nevertheless, it is because of our agreement that I have contended that theMoralist attempt to impose environmental responsibilities on business, in itspresent form, can meet, at best, with limited success.

To begin with, when I say that business operates by its own ethics or has aspecial ethics I mean four things:

First, business has a set of rules, virtues, values, and ideals, etc. (and theirconverse) which both overlap and differ from those in the rest of society. Someof the items of this ethics are part of ordinary morality. The rest of society mayrecognize and praise (or condemn) them. Other items, however, do not clearlyapply to society at large. Conversely, some elements of ordinary morality are notpart of this special ethics.'*'

Second, the rules, virtues, etc. which overlap with ordinary morality exist in adifferent set of priorities and ordering. Ordinary society orders them differently.For example, efficiency may be extremely important in business, but less so inthe rest of life. Honesty regarding one's political opinions may be less importantin business than in ordinary life. The items of this special ethics are unified bytheir role in the production of goods and services for profit.

Third, on occasion and as a matter of fact, these rules, virtues, etc. can and dooverride rules and virtues in the rest of society even though the claimed upshotof this overriding is the promotion of ends which society seeks. The rest ofsociety may express its moral disapproval of some of these incursions, but byand large it has acquiesced. Only the most blatant examples have called forthsufficient response so as to result in new laws or regulations, or in social/moralcondemnation that modifies these actions.

Finally, these rules, virtues, values and ideals are part of a structure of rela-tions and attitudes which are mutually self-supportive. The ethics is not simplyan after-thought loosely appended to this system, but is definitionally and caus-ally bound up with the system it supports and which supports it.

In identifying what I mean by business having a special ethics I do not intendto defend ethical relativism. Rather I wish to point to a special set of values,principles and ideals which regulates behavior in business and to contend thatwe do well to recognize this fact. I have not as yet, it will be noticed, said whatthat special ethics is or given reason to believe that it exists.

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In addition, I do not suggest that the forms this special ethics takes may notbe subject to criticism by the ethics of everyday life. Far from it. My argumentmight be said to be an exercise in what has been called descriptive ethics, ratherthan normative ethics. However, that would only be partially correct becausethis special ethics does carry some genuine moral force. It may be not onlypsychologically but also morally difficult for individuals within corporations toviolate this ethic. Doing so may imperil the efforts and livelihoods of many otherindividuals. Further, the production of goods and services by the corporatesystem as well as various aspects of its special ethics carry moral force withinordinary morality as well. However, since the two ethics do not coincide, indi-viduals and corporations may face various moral dilemmas between conflictingsets of duties and values. Accordingly, the point of Carr's claims about a specialethics for business should be taken to be correct in this present, complex sense.Unfortunately, Carr thought that he could spell out a special ethics for businessthat was normatively correct and immune to ordinary moral criticisms. In reject-ing this his critics were correct. ••

The significance of an account of this special ethics is that it identifies thereasons why corporations—and people in business—are unable or able withconsiderable difficulty—to do the moral thing.'^ We must focus on what theinstitution of business in its present corporate form promotes, rather than whatthe exceptional individual or business does on special occasions. It is, as theysay, the exception that proves the rule. Though there may be many shining pointsof light across the corporate firmament, these points of light only reveal thebackground against which they contrast. It is on the background—the commoncondition—not the exceptional points of light that we should concentrate. Thereason is not that we are pessimists, but that we are realists.


What reasons are there, then, to contend that, in their present state, corpora-tions and their members, can fulfill the environmental and moral responsibilitiesattributed to them with great difficulty (if they can at all)? Three differentaspects of contemporary corporate life are relevant: I) Prominent altitudes andideals; II) Internal structures which mutually support and are reinforced by theseattitudes and ideals, etc.; Ill) Market structures. My account can only be ex-tremely abbreviated. The hope is that it is recognizable and thereby plausible.

First, business tends to promote or encourage certain psychological charac-teristics, values and virtues as supportive of its aims and activities.*^ The busi-ness life is the active, not the contemplative, life. More than this it is the activelife as directed towards the production and sale of goods and services for profit.As such, it is only part of life. For an individual to maintain this activity, and tosucceed against significant odds with hard competition, various virtues, valuesand attitudes come to the fore. Without commenting on them I shall simply lista number of the prominent ones which authors such as Michael Maccoby, AlbertCarr, Carl Madden, Henry Mintzberg, Robert Jackall, and others have noted.

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These include: an energetic spirit, "a bold front," a "can-do" mentality, loyalty,commitment, optimism, positive thinking, self-control, self-discipline, competi-tiveness, team playing, growth, material success, concealment of one's strengthsand intentions with regard to one's competitors, distrust of competitors, self-protection, survival, willingness to exploit the psychological and financialweaknesses of one's competitors, and the importance of winning.•"* It is not bychance that people in business frequently compare themselves to members ofathletic teams who must energize themselves to play at their highest levels or tocombatants in a war in which one must give one's all.

Now if these are the attitudes, values and virtues which predominate in, andare supported by, corporations, when they seek to produce goods and servicesfor profit in a highly competitive, but relatively unregulated (legally), atmos-phere, then various choices either cannot be made, or can be made with greatdifficulty. Not only can corporations (or their members) not readily choose allof the moral alternatives which ordinary persons can choose, but their responseto moral wrong doing must also be limited by attitudes which reject admissionsof weakness, doubt, and uncertainty. Further, decisions with regard to variouspolicies such as limiting growth, pursuing non-material forms of success, doinggood for members of the community, and being environmentally conscious willalso be severely limited.'^

Accordingly, if the attitudes enforced are those of optimism, achievement, ifone's role is ever to be a booster and team player, then such an individual willinevitably find his or her moral views and actions limited. To maintain one'sattitude one cannot dwell on the negative or the divisive. It is not surprising inthis atmosphere that we find endless "motivational seminars" in which individu-als are to get "pumped up" to carry on, and that the expression of moral orpolitical qualms is discouraged (Jackall, 1983: 123)

Consequently, in this situation, it seems unlikely that the full environmentalappeal of Moralists will or can be heeded. The most we could hope for would bepiece-meal agreements to modify or help in some limited manner with this orthat environmental problem.

The preceding attitudes and values are not simply free floating. They rest uponand are supported by various structural features. These too should be recognizable.

There is the bureaucratic structure of business. People's positions and rela-tions are defined through various rules and roles which assign (and limit) re-sponsibilities and functions. As a consequence, there is "distantiation" amongmembers of the organization and between organizations and society. The effectsof one's actions need not be directly felt by the actor. One may not know thepeople one affects.

To the extent that large corporations rely on specialization and sharp roledifferentiation, one's knowledge of the larger picture may be terribly fragmentedand limited. As a consequence, the information that one passes back up the

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corporate hierarchy may itself suffer from an incompleteness that cannot bemade whole from above.

If Jackall is correct, it may be quite possible for managers to outrun theirmistakes because ofthe lack of tracking systems (Jackall, 1983: 126).'*Concenifor the effects of one's actions gets translated into concerns about legal liabilityor inability to outrun one's mistakes. Except at "blame time," Jackall also con-tends, managers do not publicly criticize or disagree with one another or withcompany policy (Jackall, 1983: 127). Similarly, Waters cites the presence ofstrict lines of command which discourage questioning various practices as ablock to legal and ethical conduct (Waters, 1978: 6).^^

There is always pressure from the top to set higher goals (Jackall, 1983: 120).These are rarely, if ever, higher moral goals. Rather they are higher goals ofproductivity, sales, profitability, growth, etc. Madden has referred to this as a"performance ethic." There are also numerous reports of managers expressingtheir concern that they may be pressed to do something which violates theirconscience (Mintzberg, 1983: 8).**

Apart from the bureaucratic structure, the organization and the economicsystem encourage (i.e., reward) narrow goals. Surely there is debate overwhether profit is to be maximized, optimized, realized at a reasonable rate,etc.'^What seems clear, however, is that a profitable return has a special place withinbusiness (which it need not have for ordinary moral agents) and that this encour-ages the attitudes, values and virtues noted above.

The pursuit of profit, market position, growth, etc. tend to be dominatingstrategies within a free market system (and world order) in which religious,moral, and social infrastructures have broken down (or are breaking down).Further, because these ends tend to be viewed within a short-term focus, quar-terly reports assume a great significance. This is especially true today withcurrent pressures due to leveraged buyouts and takeovers.

This has a tendency to encourage giving everything a price which must itselfenter into the calculation concerning this productive return. Those who focusmore narrowly may enjoy a competitive advantage that others do not have,since, the game is won or lost in terms of market shares, profitability, etc. Bythis I mean that businesses may fail (i.e., cease to exist) because of their eco-nomic condition. Businesses do not fail simply because of their moral condition.If their moral condition were corrupt, they would only fail because some addi-tional outside condition were also affecting them: e.g., the law or the market. Assuch business's special ethics relates to the special or primary nature, if not ofprofit, then of the welfare of the firm. Its members must focus on the self-interestof the firm.2O

Accordingly, a corporation with significant available resources must use themto justify its existence. It has to use them to produce something; in short it hasto develop something. Resources which are not revenue producing, e.g., scenicriver valleys, wilderness areas, undeveloped seashores, etc. can have little basisfor valuation on this view. Thus, one can understand the importance of the

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demand for growth. Indeed, it is said that if a corporation is not growing then itis losing out and that the opposite of growth is death. Such demands placepressure on resource depletion; they may also foster pollution. Hence, develop-ment for development's sake is encouraged by the context within which thecorporation operates.

Now, given these characteristics, it would appear, once again, that the moralagency of corporations is severely restricted. If one tends to consider primarilythe short run, then those moral and environmental considerations which requirelong-term planning will suffer. One becomes unable to entertain seriously suchconsiderations. The demand for growth and profit, not wrong in themselves,may be forced upon those making corporate decisions to the exclusion of othermoral ideals and reasons. A mentality develops in which other considerationscannot be heard.

To the extent that one does not have an overview because of one's specializa-tion, cannot or does not experience the effects of one's actions, is pressured fromoutside to accomplish goals one cannot reasonably accomplish, we have a situ-ation in which moral considerations which presuppose contrary conditions mustsuffer. Further, if due to the lack of tracking systems, individuals become re-sponsible for situations they did not create and can outrun those they did create,then we have a situation in which moral response, moral agency and the envi-ronment must suffer.

I come, then, by way of a rather different route to a view similar to that ofAlasdair Maclntyre who has argued that "corporate structures fragment con-sciousness and more especially moral consciousness" (Maclntyre, 1979: 122).Only where his conclusion seems to leave little hope, I will suggest that throughchanges in structure such fragmentation can be importantly lessened.


Finally, there are several features of the market which constrain the moralchoices of business. I will mention only two. First, as is widely recognized, thenature of the environment itself is a good which does not naturally lend itself tothe invisible hand approach of the market. Lowe and Lewis comment that "theenvironment is not a product that is easily traded between interested parties,consequently there are few price signals which help guide the decision makers'courses of action" (Lowe and Lewis, 1979: 421). Garrett Hardin reminded ussome time ago about the problem of the commons and the difficulties of procur-ing joint action by individuals who do not mutually agree to coerce themselves.Indeed, he thought that there was no moral solution to this problem (Hardin,1968).

Second, the extent to which business determines consumer behavior or con-sumer behavior determines business may not be easily ascertained. But surely itwould be obtuse to deny that business responds to consumers. And consumers,to the extent that they seek simply the cheapest products, the easiest ways ofacting, the most convenient forms of consumption, have driven business away

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from environmentally sound policies (Chamberlain, 1973). Mark Sagoff hasvividly portrayed the schizophrenic view that many people have of themselvesas consumers, on the one hand, and as citizens with concerns about society andthe environment on the other (Sagoff, 1981). But if the moral agent is the citizen,and not the consumer, then the demands of the consumer must be viewed withcircumspection. The corporation that would be a moral agent itself cannot sim-ply appeal to consumer desire as a justification for its own activities.^!


Now if the preceding is correct, then we can see why corporations have aninherent tendency to violate the environmental responsibilities which have beenattributed to them. The problem of the environment for corporations is notsimply that of the commons, but also of the structure of the game by which theydefine themselves. Until now this game has discouraged individuals in businessand corporations themselves from acting upon various environmental (and othermoral) responsibilities.

Accordingly, it is not a question of businesses pulling themselves up by theirmoral boot straps. It is not a question of moral or environmental voluntarism. Itwould appear that corporations are trapped in systems which they have helpedto create (Chamberlain, 1973: 4).

Hence, time spent on elaborating the nature of a moral conscience and theprinciples of moral responsiveness to the environment are of dubious worth untilwe solve a prior problem: what would it take to enable a corporation to actaccording to moral guidelines? Or, more generally, how can we construct asystem of moral business institutions? One of the main thrusts of my argumentis that it is here that business ethicists need to spend more time. Before we canfruitfully attribute various environmental responsibilities to corporations weneed to pursue much further than we have heretofore the conditions for businessinstitutions to act as moral agents within effective moral systems.

At a minimum, changes are needed so that moral and environmental principlescan readily be acted upon. Further, given the above structural features, thechanges cannot amount simply to seeking some gaps or "zones of discretion"within the corporation within which what is moral can be willed (Mintzberg,1983: 13).

The nature of these changes must correspond with the requirements for aneffective moral system of corporate moral agents. I suggest that the followingmust be included among the minimal conditions for such an effective moralityunder partial compliance (i.e., some corporations will continue to adhere to theEconomist Model and not the Moralist Model).

First, choice. A moral agent must be able to choose alternative courses ofaction. The agent is not coerced or constrained to follow a particular course ofaction. It must be possible to choose moral (as well as immoral and non-moral)actions. On the other hand, it must be conceivable that a moral agent could actwholly morally. If moral agents are constrained to act primarily in self-interested

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manners, then such constraint limits or may even eliminate their moral agency.They do not have "free" choice.22 -phis is not to deny that some individuals may,even in extremely difficult and constraining situations, choose to do what ismorally required. They remain moral agents. However, the design of an effectivemoral system should not require that individuals be moral heroes in order to bemoral. It should foster moral behavior, not erect obstacles to it.

This condition also implies that moral agents can control their actions. Choicewould be empty if it did not result in corresponding action. This requires thatmoral agents can know and experience the effects of their actions, not only onthemselves but also others. Accordingly, this condition also implies that moralagents have foresight and can anticipate consequences and implications of theiractions. Consequently, the agent must be able to plan for the future and actappropriately.

Second, motivation. A moral agent must be able to act from moral reasons.This implies that other members of the moral community can have input intothose moral reasons. Other moral agents do not act upon a moral agent simplythrough self-interested or monetary means. In short, a moral agent must be partof a moral community. Absent such a community, development of a moral pointof view would be extremely difficult if not impossible. Further, the reinforce-ment required for one's moral motivation not to he extinguished would belacking.^^ Similarly, moral agents must be susceptible to emotions such as guilt,pride, shame, remorse, as well as esteem and admiration (Brandt, 1979: 166ff).Unless this is possible, other moral agents cannot effectively reason with andseek to guide such an agent's behavior.

Third, comparability. No one is so powerful as to be able to circumventmorality. Conversely, no one is so low or alienated, that they simply cannot (orwill not) go along. In short, there is rough equality or comparability amongst themembers of the system either in themselves or through external monitoringsystems which may work to reduce or compensate for disparities in power.However, comparability is only partially a matter of raw power. It is also aquestion of having roughly similar needs, desires and vulnerabilities. The open-ness to moral reasons of moral agents who do not share these rough similaritiesis diminished. With such comparability, moral agents may more readily listen tomoral claims. They may be more willing to cooperate, at least to the extent ofnot attempting to injure others. Occasionally they may help others when, forexample, they are in need or distress.

Fourth, sanctions. There is a link among actions, effects and reward or pun-ishment. Sanctions include informal measures such as reprimand, criticism,shunning, as well as praise and commendation. They may also include measuressuch as physical force, coercion, penalties against one's holdings and honors foroutstanding behavior. Accordingly, moral agents must be susceptible to a varietyof mechanisms whereby the moral community may exercise its active role inshaping the behavior of its members. A moral community could not exist inwhich its members were significantly impervious to each other. In short, an

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effective moral society must be able to exercise some control over its members.This obviously also requires that the moral community can have knowledge ofthe actions and effects of its members.

Fifth, compliance. If the preceding conditions hold, there will be generalcompliance. However, this is, in itself, yet another condition for there to be asuccessful and effective morality. For if individuals have reason to believe thatothers will violate their moral duties, then they too will have reason not to followthose rules and hence may tend not to do so. Contrariwise, if most others areseeking to fulfill their moral responsibilities, this can act as a further reason forthem to do so.

If the preceding is plausible, then for corporations (and their members) to becapable of the moral agency Moralists demand of them, various significantchanges will be required. These changes must occur not only within but alsobetween corporations themselves, as well as the rest of society. Too many Mor-alists tend to assume intellectualistic models of the corporation which focussimply on reasons, intentions, choices and actions that a corporation might have ormake, without reference to conditions regarding motivation, comparability andsanctions. Likewise, their models of the corporation tend to be too individualistic,thereby neglecting the community required for any agent to be a moral agent.

This is not to suggest that appropriate changes caq make corporations moralagents in the full sense that humans may be. On the contrary, corporations can,at best, be regarded as secondary moral agents. Still, even for this, if corpora-tions and their members are to follow the moral prescriptions that Moralistsrecommend, a number of significant implications follow for the structure ofbusiness organizations. Without such changes, the present corporate environ-ment can only support morality in a limited fashion. As a consequence, individ-ual corporations will comply with morality less frequently and individual moralagents will be forced to work in environments that do not support their effortsto be ethical.24


It is not the place for business ethicists, as such, to say specifically what thosechanges should be. However, they may suggest criteria and standards accordingto which such changes should proceed. Once again, I can only be very brief.

Authority and Accountability. Corporate structures must be designed to ac-knowledge moral reasons, to minimalize forces which inhibit them, and to acton them when decisive. For example, to avoid the practice of placing pressureson subordinates who are unable to meet their assignments without breaking thelaw or engaging in immoral acts, the structure of power and authority must bereworked. Otherwise moral reasons can not be effective and moral choice isrestricted. Accountability must flow not only from bottom to top, but also top tobottom. Subordinates must be able to evaluate superiors as well as superiorsevaluate subordinates. Without such measures the effectiveness of moral sanc-tions is restricted and the incomparability of individuals increased.

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This requires broad knowledge of the actions and responsibilities of otherswithin the organization. As Christopher Stone has emphasized, knowledge mustbe able to make its way up and down the organization (Stone, 1975). Claims oflack of knowledge must be skeptically received. Executives, as well as subordi-nates, within organizations must be held accountable for their actions, and notsimply the organization itself (Singer and Wooten, 1976: 96).

Accordingly, different forms of power sharing through participation might beextended throughout the organization. The organization which could fulfill theMoralist Model must be one whose bureaucracy is much flatter and more demo-cratic than traditional bureaucracies. In making such changes, organizationsmust set up clear and direct tracking and accountability systems. The incentivestructure must not favor those who use moral short-cuts.

In addition, if there is to be moral accountability of corporate members andcorporations themselves, then corporate structures must not only protect orfoster the attitudes, values and virtues noted above (Section IV), but they mustdo the same for other attitudes and moral emotions such as regret, remorse,shame, joy, and pride. Since an effective moral system requires such reactionsand responses, we can only doubt the moral possibilities of institutions whichseek, by all means, to avoid public admission of guilt, shame or remorse formorally (and legally) wrong actions. It is clear that corporations have longworried about their public image a great deal, but this worry is distinct fromconcern about the moral quality of that image.

Consequently, measures must be developed within the corporation to register"disturbances" perceived by its members which arise due to transgression ofmoral standards. These "disturbances" are the corporate equivalent of humanemotional upset. Such corporate measures must be able to translate these "dis-turbances" into corporate perception of and response to the (moral) evaluationsimplicit in these forms of upset. In short, a corporation must be capable notsimply of ego concerns surrounding its public image, but also moral emotionand concern regarding its activities.^^

Rationality. If the corporation's prime directive is not simply a narrow eco-nomic one, that is, simply to follow efficiency directives as the EconomistModel prescribes, then it will also come under new standards for the determina-tion of what is rational for the organization to do. Rationality can no longer beviewed simply as what most efficiently leads to some narrow end.

In short, the standard functional rationality which has characterized corporateactivities must be supplemented by a substantive rationality—the process ofanalyzing and judging events on their substantive merits, "revealing intelligentinsight into the interrelations of events in a given situation" (Singer and Wooten,1976: 93). Only if some move is made in this direction, can we overcome thetendency of many managers, noted by Singer and Wooten, to be "... so caught upin the procedural demands of their work that they easily lose sight of the impor-tant end results of their activities" (Singer and Wooten, 1976: 98f)- Accordingly,if the corporation is going to respond as a moral agent, then it must adopt a

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theory of moral reasons and at the same time be part of a community of corpo-rations which does likewise. This means that the self-interest ofthe corporationwill, at times, take a back seat to other considerations. It also means that bothwithin and among corporations (and society) mechanisms and processes mustbe constructed for developing (or trying to develop) consensus regarding moralreasons and ends.^^ This leads to the next point.

Cooperation. There must be much greater cooperation both within and amongcorporations, as well as between corporations, government and the public. Thewe/they mentality that has characterized much of these relations must be re-placed by a much more cooperative mentality. This cooperation must be instilledin the very ideology of business. It is nonsense for business to continually speakas if government is enemy number one, and for the public to feel similarly aboutbusiness. Part ofthe point of Bowen McCoy's essay, "The Parade ofthe Sadhu,"is that without support systems it is impossible for individuals to act on theirmoral visions (McCoy, 1983). This is true not only of individuals within corpo-rations, but also corporations within the business system. But such supportsystems are systems of cooperation.

Increasingly today we see mutual cooperation between formerly opposed cor-porations. IBM and Apple, Boeing and McDonnell Douglas, General Motors andToyota have teamed up for mutually beneficial economic projects.^' If they cancooperate in these ways, they must be encouraged to do so for environmentalreasons.^* Laws and regulations which might inhibit environmental alliancesmust be revised.

Such cooperation should not be mistaken for simply the willing agreement byall to do (or not to do) various things. It may also take the form of creatingincentives which would encourage and reward agreements as well as and mutualactivities which promote common well-being. In addition, it may include asystem of mutual coercion which corporations (states and citizens) mutuallyagree to exercise upon each other (Hardin, 1968: 1247). However, if there is tobe such mutual coercion and this is to be mutually agreed upon, then it isimportant to say who is included within the mutuality of these agreements. Sincethe moral community of which corporations are a part is not limited simply tothe collection of corporations, the mutuality of these agreements must extend tothe whole of society.

Democratization. If the future is to be decided, as it must and will be, by suchclusters of cooperating corporations, then the issue of the legitimacy of suchefforts arises before us. Milton Friedman was correct to maintain that if corpo-rations undertake such roles they are no longer exercising simply private rolesbut also public ones (Friedman, 1962). Indeed, the distinction itself betweenprivate and public is undergoing significant change.

But then much greater roles for citizens must be involved. We may needformal involvement of the public and the community in company decisions.Already various companies are engaged in initial experiments along theselines.2' However, these efforts should not simply take the form of studies and

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surveys of the public's "willingness to pay." The issue here is not simply eco-nomic, but also moral and political. The separation of the political and theeconomic has been a false one. Instead, it is at least initially plausible that theforms of legitimacy that such cooperative enterprises will have to invoke willrequire various forms of democracy which include the community. This wouldbe in line with Garrett Hardin's comment that "the great challenge facing us nowis to invent the corrective feedbacks that are needed to keep custodians honest.We must find ways to legitimate the needed authority of both the custodians andthe corrective feedbacks" (Hardin, 1968: 1246).

Openness. If corporations are to fulfill the above criteria, then they must bemuch more open in providing information to their own members and to those inthe community about their activities, as well as the goods and services theyprovide. This flow of information must also include information about potentialproblems, both inside and outside major facilities (Kleiner, 1991: 41). Companieshave resisted this for fear that they would give away something to a competitor orgive environmental groups the rope to hang them with (Kleiner, 1991: 41).

There is evidence, however, that such open information need not be harmful,and may be rather beneficial, to corporations. For example. The SuperfundAmendments and Reauthorization Act (1986) required companies to report theiremissions levels of 300 chemicals (Kleiner, 1991: 41). One of the beneficialconsequences has been that the corporations involved finally troubled to seewhat they were doing and, as a consequence, made economic gains from recov-ering wasted resources. This suggests that a rather full system of reporting neednot be injurious to corporations and may have unexpected beneficial results.

An implication of this criterion deserves notice. Madden notes business's lackof credibility with the public (Madden 1977: 75). Openness can only be effec-tive, i.e., people will believe it and act on it, if it can be examined. In short,corporate America can ask that it be trusted. But that trust must exist upon abasis of action and verified openness. Further, this openness will only be effec-tive to the extent that local groups are able to know how to use the informationthat becomes available (Kleiner, 1991: 41). As such, the effectiveness of greateropenness will depend on the development of a different community (Rienow,1978). Environmental groups, as well as the government, must play an importantrole in monitoring such information.

Environmentalism. Finally, mechanisms which fulfill the preceding criteriawill not by themselves answer the environmental crisis we face. Singer andWooten report how humanistic administrative systems can lose sight of the endsthey are pursuing (Singer and Wooten, 1976). We must not only consider themeans whereby to foster environmental ends but also those ends themselves.The substantive ends which corporations ought to follow require detailed argu-ment. This is another forum for applied (i.e., business) ethicists.

Instead of growth we must look to sustainable development, instead of maxi-mizing profits we should look to sustainable profits. Business should increas-ingly take as its aim the fulfillment of a function and not simply the productionof a product. Thus, we need corporations which seek to provide transportation.

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not simply automobiles, nourishment not simply food, health not simply drugs,healthy crops and not simply pesticides.

We are told that business gives the consumer what he or she wants. But wealso know that this responsiveness can lead business away from environmentallyresponsible actions. Business can no longer assume that such responsiveness isproductive of the greatest good. If business is to get on the environmental band-wagon it will have to be a leader and not use the appeal to consumer responsive-ness—which it has had a role in creating—to justify its actions. Instead of thefulfillment of individual desires, a theory of community interests must be devel-oped. It is to this that ultimately business must have its primary responsibility.


I have argued that, if the Moralist Model is to be taken seriously, the corpora-tion must be restructured so that it (and its members) can act as moral agents.Moral demands on corporations are not neutral with regard to the organizationof the corporation or the system within which it functions. Accordingly, ethicscourses for those going into business risk irrelevancy if the institutions they joinare structured to resist, deflect or discourage moral behavior.

Though the implications for corporations are significant, I do not believe thatthey are unrealistic or Utopian. There are important experiments by variouscorporations in accord with each of the criteria I have noted above. In addition,there are any number of forces which are pushing in the directions of the aboveargument. Among them are empowerment movements, the green movement,feminism, post-modernism, and changes in societal values. As such, the abovecriteria and standards do not call for the total replacement of the present socio-economic system, though they do require substantial changes in it.

Not only does the above argument carry implications for the environmentallyresponsible corporation, it also carries implications for business ethics as well.Business ethicists need to look much more at descriptive ethics. Jackall com-ments quite appropriately that "philosophers...have done little detailed investi-gation of the day-to-day operations, structure, and meaning of work in businessand of how the conditions of that work shape moral consciousness" (Jackall,1988: 5). They need to look more closely at the conditions under which practicalmorality can be effective.

Defenders of the Moralist Model need to be more candid about the implica-tions for business of the views they defend. If what business ethics says requiressignificant changes within business^-and I think it does—then businessethicists should come clean. If the Moralist Model does not have such radicalimplications for business, then it should say more clearly how we are to avoidthe "cultural" problems I have noted.

Finally, a prominent role for applied business ethicists concerns the appropriatestructure of corporations. They must continue to refine and develop accounts of theenvironmental responsibilities of business. But they need to spend more time re-flecting on the organizational implications of these responsibilities. If business is

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to operate in an environmentally responsible manner, then much more is re-quired than codes of ethics, environmental responsibility officers and ethicshotlines.

Henderson has commented that "nothing less than a social, economic, andphilosophical revolution...has already begun. Implementation of these new en-vironmental insights and goals will require a greater restructuring of today'sindustrial societies than even the extraordinary restructuring we witnessed in thelate 1980s" (Henderson, 1990: 290). I think that she is correct and that theMoralist Model must grasp this fact by focusing on the moral conditions accord-ing to which corporations would be able to respond effectively and generally toenvironmental demands.

The University of Tennessee/Knoxville


*I would like to thank the following individuals for their helpful comments on earlierversions of this paper: Michael K. Green, John Hardwig, Caroline Henderson, and John Nolt.

'The concern over ethics, not to mention environmental ethics, is widespread. An article inFortune claimed, in 1988, that "the business climate has become less ethical than it was in therelatively aboveboard period from the Depression's end until the mid-Seventies" (Magnet, 1988:65).

In one sense, I am focusing in this paper on what Edwin M. Epstein has called "businessethics" (as opposed to "corporate social responsibility" and "corporate social responsive-ness") (Epstein, 1987). However, Epstein himself admits that there is great ovedap between"business ethics" and "corporate social responsibility" movements. Hence, in another senseI am not concerned with labels as with how we should respond to those (whomever) whocontend that corporations have social and moral responsibilities regarding the environmentand that acting upon such responsibilities would significantly help to resolve our environ-mental problems.

It is not surprising, then, that D. Kirk Davidson, after a survey of the business community,comes to the conclusion that "while some individual companies are making strong commit-ments in this area [of the environment]..., these are isolated examples" (Davidson, 1990: 57).

" For example, Donaldson gives the example of the response to the mercury spills of Chisso.Though Chisso did not break any legal prohibition, many people contended that it had"disregarded its moral responsibilities" (Donaldson, 1982: 2). On these grounds a court forcedChisso to make massive payments. The suggestion, I take it, is that if business will recognizeits moral responsibilities, it will not only avoid problems of the environment, but also it willhelp to solve these and other problems. In short, we do not need more government regulations.We need corporations to recognize and act on their moral and social responsibilities.

In another article, Goodpaster defends the view that "nothing short of the condition of beingalive... [is] a plausible and nonarbitrary criterion" for being morally considerable (Goodpaster,1978: 310). He allows that if this criterion is "...taken seriously, [it] could admit of applicationto entities and systems of entities heretofore unimagined as claimants on our moral attention(such as the biosystem itself)" (Ibid.).

^Donaldson notes, for instance, that not every responsibility of a corporation (stockholders)is a responsibility that individuals also have; and the converse is also true (e.g., voting)(Donaldson, 1982: 15-16, 20, 30).

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^Moralists also view the problem of corporate ethics as an individual problem when, forexample, they attribute unethical conduct on the part of members of corporations (and henceof corporations themselves) to excessive greed, desire only for personal gain, individualweakness, ignorance, or the failure of managers to insist on high ethical standards (cf. Hilgert,1990). Similarly, Patrick Murphy claims that "the key source of ethical problems in mostbusiness firms" is "overzealousness" (Murphy, 1989: 81).

I do not wish to deny that the preceding items are factors in unethical conduct. My pointis that the structures within which people work also play an extremely important role as well.It is striking that Murphy contends that we must create "ethical corporate structures," but thenlimits his discussion to "corporate credos," "ethics programs," and "tailored corporate codes"(Murphy, 1989). With each of these he notes important limitations. Nevertheless, he does notlook beyond the ethical patina that these structural changes might bring. My contention isthat Moralists must look more closely at the very structures by which the corporation is run.

*It is tiot obvious that codes of ethics make corporations more ethical. Ronald Berenbeimreports on a study by M. Cash Williams which "compared 202 manufacturing companies thathave codes to 104 that do not. Written codes, she found, do not decrease the number ofcorporate violations of the law. A company with a written ethics code was just as likely todump toxic wastes illegally as one without such a code" (Berenbeim, 1988: 16).

^Donaldson notes that under certain conditions, which he seemingly suggests are extreme,a corporation may fail to be a moral agent and hence not have the responsibilities that he andother Moralists would attribute to them (Donaldson, 1982: 124-125).

"^or example, the following values and ideals of ordinary life do not seem to be part of thespecial game of business or they play a subsidiary role: the ideal of the moral ascetic, the perfectspouse, the obedient child, selfless action, leisure, contemplation, love of family. On thecontrary, the following appear to be values and ideals within business that are given greaterweight or scope than in ordinary life: making a sale, efficiency, greed, accumulation, economicgrowth, predictability, espionage, shading the truth (puffery), various forms of deception,ending relationships on economic grounds, agreeing with superiors to curry favor, etc.

^'i am indebted to John Hardwig and John Nolt for suggestions on how best to portray thisspecial ethics I am attributing to corporations.

'^I refer here to what is moral according to ordinary morality, or at least ordinary moralityas corrected through philosophical reflection. It has been objected that I am slipping between"cannot" and "can with difficulty" at this point in the text and that my argument requires"cannot," since if corporations can act morally, though with difficulty, then (significantly)they still can act morally. In response, I hold that any which system which requires that, inorder to be moral, one must in effect be a moral hero (i.e., one who overcomes great difficultiesto be moral), is a morally defective system. It requires change.

l^It will quickly be obvious that I have drawn heavily on the account of Robert Jackall inhis article "Moral Mazes" (Jackall, 1983) as well as his book (Jackall, 1988) of the same title.

'' In contrast, doubt, dread, anxiety, fear, the open expression of one's emotions, political orreligious views etc. are not attitudes, values or character traits which are functional in business.This emphasizes that business fosters only part of life. Consider the extent to which thesenotions have played an important part in human life. A Kierkegaardian "sickness unto death,"a Sartrian afflicted with existential anxiety simply do not have a place in today's business—nordo the mystic, the philanthropist, the Mother Teresa, the Don Quixote, the Schumacher, or thedeep ecologist.

'^Davidson asks why such reports as Limits to Growth and Our Common Future havereceived little attention from corporate America. I suggest that my argument gives at least partof the answer (cf. Davidson, 1990: 59).

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' By manipulating the numbers, e.g., reducing assets while maintaining sales, by deferringcapital expenditures (from maintenance to innovative investments) as long as possible,managers may either starve or milk the plants with which they are associated (Jackall, 1983:127). In this sense, Jackall suggests, bureaucracies may be thought of as vast systems oforganized irresponsibility (Ibid.).

'^Andrews notes that we "...hear little public comment from business leaders of integritywhen incontestable breaches of conduct are made known—and silence suggests to cynics anabsence of concern" (Andrews, 1989: 104). Similarly, Madden has noted that "the plain truthof the matter is that the ethics of leading business organizations rarely extend to acknowledgingcriticism of the business community or of specific members for inappropriate conduct, or evento expressions of moral outrage regarding events such as Watergate" (Madden, 1977: 58).

' Madden also reports on various studies which demonstrate the same pressures on ethicalbehavior (Madden, 1977: 66). Barbara Toffler refers to these pressures and the consequentmanner of acting as "the 'move it' philosophy" (Toffler, 1991: F13).

'^Jackall contends that productive return is the only rationale that carries weight within thecorporate hierarchy (Jackall. 1983: 129). Madden offers as "a key theme: the internal masterofthe executive is the bottom line, guarded relentlessly by the investment analyst" (Madden,1977: 72). Donaldson notes that Boulding denies that profit is the only factor in corporatedecision making. He proceeds to list other non-profit corporate motives: security, expansion,technological advance, avoidance of failure, group loyalty, and organizational diffusion ofresponsibility (Donaldson, 1982: 94). Even so, these motives remain strikingly narrow innature.

''Of course individuals (outside of business) may be self-interested, have fragmentaryknowledge, evade responsibility by various "internal" stratagems, etc. However, they are notsupported in this by an explicit and forceful structural system as are individuals within thecorporate arena. For example, ordinary morality counsels against self-interest in ways thatthe special ethics of business does not. Further, individuals don't have to adopt the competitive"success ethics" in the way that corporations must.

^'Chamberlain and many others have described public resistance to environmentally soundefforts (Chamberlain, 1973). On the other hand, McDonald's switch from the use of polysty-rene to the use of paper products is often said to be an instance of public pressure of a majorcorporation to act in environmentally friendly ways. There is some controversy, however,over this case. It has been argued that the use of polystyrene is environmentally friendlierthan the use of paper products (Naj, 1991: B8). Finally, I do not wish to deny that corporationsare partially responsible for the ecologically unfriendly habits of consumers. In short, therelations here are exceedingly complex.

^^it is obvious that whenever moral agents exist they do so within some system that willstructure their moral choices. This structure may enter into the very definition of that agent.This is not problematic so long as the system itself passes normative muster. I read the MoralistModel to say that the present business system does not, with regard to environmental respon-sibilities, pass moral muster.

^^Colin Turnbull's account of the Ik, an African tribe which due to environmental pressuresdeclined into depravity and inhuman behavior, is relevant (Tumbull, 1972).

'*John Hardwig contributed to my formulation of this paragraph.^ If the possibility of various (moral) emotions is crucial to moral agents, then corporations,

as moral agents, must be susceptible to something similar. These comments attempt to suggesthow corporations might be said to be susceptible to (a kind oQ emotional state. I draw onWilliam Alston's suggestion that an emotional state is "...a more or less disturbed state oftheorganism, together with the bodily sensations produced by this state, arising from a perceptualevaluation of something" (Alston, 1967, 2: 485).

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^*The importance of groups of individuals (and organizatinos) having processes for devel-oping a consensus regarding their (moral) purposes and plans is part of the point of the essayby Bowen H. McCoy, "The Parable of the Sadhu" (McCoy, 1983). At the outset of McCoy'sarticle it is noted that "each climber gave the sadhu help but none made sure he would besafe" (McCoy, 1983: 103). If one substitutes "the environment" for "the sadhu," "McCoy'sviews take on significance for the topic of this paper.

^^This list could continue at great length. Other significant agreements have been madebetween Ford and Mazda, Alcoa and Kobe, and Time Warner and Toshiba.

^^E. S. Woolatd, Chairman of Du Pont, has suggested the notion of "partnering" which wouldbe an instance of the present point. According to Woolard, partnering involves breaking downartificial boundaries within corporations and among corporations, government and environmental-ists so as (among other things) "to analyze the problems of economy and to deal with theinfTastrucnires of transportation, waste handling and disposal, and land use" (Woolaid, 1990).

^^E. S. Woolard has noted that "respect for local communities means involving residentsin discussions about activities that potentially affect their safety, health and environment"(Woolard, 1989: 6). Such discussions, as well as citizen advisory boards that Du Pont is alsoexperimenting with, are an important flrst step.

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©1995. Business Ethics Quarterly, Volume 5, Issue 4. ISSN 1052-150X. 0673-0697.

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