Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract In the mid-1960s and 1970s the field of business ethics saw a basic shift in emphasis from personal responsibility to corporate responsibility. While the notion of corporate responsibility has come to be a dominant concept in the field of business ethics since that time, it is a contested concept that admits of a range of conceptions. A concern underlying this paper is that many of these conceptions are less adequate than they might be. This paper has two overlapping goals. First, it seeks to elaborate a more adequate conception of corporate responsibility by drawing upon critical theory to distinguish three different normative realms (viz., legitimacy, morality and ethics). Second, the paper attempts to indicate from a critical theory perspective the nature of corporate responsibilities in each of these realms. The paper begins with a short introduction to German critical theory and an explanation of the different normative realms. The following three sections elaborate in turn the responsibilities of corporations in each on the three normative realms. Finally, the conclusion attempts to indicate some of the advantages of a critical theory conception of corporate responsibility.
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