Just Work: Business Ethics
Karl Marx, Selected Writings, (Hackett)
William Shaw (editor), Ethics at Work: Basic Readings in Business Ethics (Oxford)
David C. Korten, When Corporations Rule the World (Kumarian Press)
Naomi Klein, No Logo (Picador)
David McNally, Another World is Possible: Globalization and Anti-Capitalism (Arbeiter Ring Publishing)
In this course we will explore some of the central ethical issues arising in advanced industrial nations. We will begin with an examination of some basic concepts that most of take for granted: labor, property, and freedom. We will attempt to understand the significance of these concepts as they are manifested (or fail to be manifested) in capitalist and consumerist culture. Of particular concern will be issues involving poverty and the mass accumulation of wealth.
Following our investigation of these basic notions, we will turn our attention to some particular ethical issues in business generally, but in corporations particularly. We will examine advertising, whistleblowing, social responsibility, sexual harassment, affirmative action, and employee privacy. Our attempt will be to understand how corporations have come to handle these issues, and to critically assess these corporate practices. We will also examine Joel Bakan's view that the corporation is a pathological entity-one deserving death, in fact. Finally, we will attempt to assess the impact of corporate and capitalist practices on us. That is, we will look at the ways in which our values and thought are affected by the predominance of what Herbert Marcuse calls 'one-dimensionality.'
Note: You will be reading contemporary research by economists, sociologists, and ethicists. Much of this is cutting-edge stuff. In addition, we will be reading some classic (and very abstract) philosophical analyses of labor, rationality, and human nature. Some of this material is very difficult-but it is all worth your effort.
Your course grade will consist of several take-home assignments (30% each), 3 in-class presentations (45%), and a final 5-7 page paper (25%).