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The Social Contract Model of Corporate Purpose and Responsibility

  • Nien-hê Hsieh (a1)
Abstract:

Of the many developments in business ethics that Thomas Donaldson has helped pioneer, one is the application of social contract theory to address questions about the responsibilities of business actors. In Corporations and Morality, Donaldson develops one of the most sustained and comprehensive accounts that aims to justify the existence of for-profit corporations and to specify and ground their responsibilities. In order to further our understanding about the purpose and responsibilities of productive organizations, and as a contribution to the scholarship on Donaldson’s thought, this paper gathers together the critical responses to Donaldson’s account along with Donaldson’s replies to his critics. The paper argues that we would do well to continue engaging with Donaldson’s account because of its distinctive and challenging conception of the purpose and responsibilities of productive organizations, but that many of the insights to be gained come from reframing the role played by social contract theory.

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Business Ethics Quarterly
  • ISSN: 1052-150X
  • EISSN: 2153-3326
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