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1. The Ruffin Series of the Society for Business Ethics: Volume > 4
R. Edward Freeman, Patricia H. Werhane Ruffin Series No. 4: Business, Science, and Ethics
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2. The Ruffin Series of the Society for Business Ethics: Volume > 4
R. Edward Freeman, Patricia H. Werhane Introduction
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section i: the ruffin lectures
3. The Ruffin Series of the Society for Business Ethics: Volume > 4
Jessica C. Flack, Frans B. M. de Waal Monkey Business and Business Ethics: Evolution Origins of Human Morality
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To what degree has biology influenced and shaped the development of moral systems? One way to determine the extent to which human moral systems might be the product of natural selection is to explore behaviour in other species that is analogous and perhaps homologous to our own. Many non-human primates, for example, have similar methods to humans for resolving, managing, and preventing conflicts of interests within their groups. Such methods, which include reciprocity and food sharing, reconciliation, consolation, conflict intervention, and mediation, are the very building blocks of moral systems in that they are based on and facilitate cohesion among individuals and reflect a concerted effort by community members to find shared solutions to social conflict. Furthermore, these methods of resource distribution and conflict resolution often require or make use of capacities for empathy, sympathy, and sometimes even community concern. Non-human primates in societies in which such mechanisms are present may not be exactly moral beings, but they do show signs of a sense of social regularity that—just like the norms and rules underlying human moral conduct—promotes a mutually satisfactory modus vivendi.
4. The Ruffin Series of the Society for Business Ethics: Volume > 4
Joshua D. Margolis Responsibility, Inconsistency, and the Paradoxes of Morality in Human Nature De Waal's Window into Business Ethics
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Efforts to trace the evolutionary antecedents of human morality introduce challenges and opportunities for business ethics. The biological precedents of responsibility suggest that human tendencies to respond morally are deeply rooted. This does not mean, however, that those tendencies are always consistent with ends human beings seek to pursue. This paper investigates the conflicts that may arise between human beings’ moral predispositions and the purposes human beings pursue.
5. The Ruffin Series of the Society for Business Ethics: Volume > 4
Robert C. Solomon Sympathy as a “Natural”
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In this essay, I want to reconsider sympathy as a “natural” emotion or sentiment. Adam Smith famously defended it as such (as did his friend David Hume) but both used the term ambiguously and in a different sense than we use it today. Nevertheless, it seems to me that Smith got it quite right, that the basis of morality and justice is to be found in the realm of affect rather than in theory and principles alone, and that sympathy is a “natural” or should we say a “basic” emotion. But that means that morality may not be an exclusively human characteristic, as many philosophers (including Smith and Hume) have assumed. But some contemporary thinking in psychology and philosophy makes that extension plausible.
6. The Ruffin Series of the Society for Business Ethics: Volume > 4
Paul R. Lawrence The Biological Base of Morality?
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The study of human morality has historically been carried out primarily by philosophers and theologians. Now this broad topic is also being studied systematically by evolutionary biologists and various behavioral and social sciences. Based upon a review of this work, this paper will propose a unified explanation of human morality as an innate feature of human minds. The theory argues that morality is an innate skill that developed as a means to fulfill the human drive to bond with others in mutual caring. This explanation has also been reported as part of a broader theory on the role of human nature in the shaping of human choices (Driven, Lawrence and Nohria).
7. The Ruffin Series of the Society for Business Ethics: Volume > 4
Timothy L. Fort A Deal, a Dolphin, and a Rock: Biological Contributions to Business Ethics
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In this response to Paul Lawrence’s Ruffin Lecture, I assess the benefits of integrating biology into business ethics including the way in which biology counteracts conventional economic descriptions of human nature. Section II looks at the dangers of the project and offers the notion of Multilevel Selection Theory as a way to address the notion of how one balances various biological drives. Section III concludes by suggesting that in order to optimally integrate biology, one should attend to contractual notions (the deal) as well as a Sisyphean quest to engage in the task of integration. In doing so, we should also remember to draw upon the dolphin in each of us, that part that takes pleasure in doing moral acts.
8. The Ruffin Series of the Society for Business Ethics: Volume > 4
Leda Cosmides, John Tooby Knowing Thyself: The Evolutionary Psychology of Moral Reasoning and Moral Sentiments
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“Ought” cannot be derived from “is,” so why should facts about human nature be of interest to business ethicists? In this article, we discuss why the nature of human nature is relevant to anyone wishing to create a more just and humane workplace and society. We begin by presenting evolutionary psychology as a research framework, and then present three examples of research that illuminate various evolved cognitive programs. The first involves the cognitive foundations of trade, including a neurocognitive mechanism specialized for a form of moral reasoning: cheater detection. The second involves the moral sentiments triggered by participating in collective actions, which are relevant to organizational behavior. The third involves the evolved programs whereby our minds socially construct groups, and how these can be harnessed to reduce racism and foster true diversity in the workplace. In each case, we discuss how what has been learned about these evolved programs might inform the study and practice of business ethics.
9. The Ruffin Series of the Society for Business Ethics: Volume > 4
David M. Messick Human Nature and Business Ethics
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While there seems to be little controversy about whether there is a biological or evolutionary basis for human morality, in business and other endeavors, there is considerable controversy about the nature of this basis and the proper populations in which to study this foundation. Moreover, I suggest, the most fundamental element of this basis may be the tendency of humans and other species to experience the world in evaluative terms.
10. The Ruffin Series of the Society for Business Ethics: Volume > 4
Saras D. Sarasvathy Founding Moral Reasoning on Evolutionary Psychology: A Critique and an Alternative
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In this paper I develop a critique of the strong adaptationist view inherent in the work of Leda Cosmides and John Tooby, as presentedat the Ruffin Lectures series in 2002. My critique proceeds in two stages. In the first stage, I advance arguments as to why I find the particular adaptation story that the authors advance for their experimental results unpersuasive even when I fully accept the value of their experimental results. In the second stage, I grant them their adaptation story and critique the implications of such stories forbusiness ethics and for future research. In sum, I argue against recasting key problems in the social sciences to fit the use of toolsdeveloped in the so-called “hard” sciences. Instead, I urge that we deal with these problems on their own terms, i.e. through their basisin and dependence on deliberate social action.
11. The Ruffin Series of the Society for Business Ethics: Volume > 4
William C. Frederick The Evolutionary Firm and Its Moral (Dis)Contents
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The business firm, called here the Evolutionary Firm, is shown to be a phenomenon of nature. The firm’s motives, organization, productivity, strategy, and moral significance are a direct outgrowth of natural evolution. Its managers, directors, and employees are natural agents enacting and responding to biological, physical, and ecological impulses inherited over evolutionary time from ancient human ancestors. The Evolutionary Firm’s moral posture is a function of its economizing success, competitive drive, quest for market dominance, social contracting skills, and the neural algorithms found in the minds of its executives and directing managers. Behavioral, organizational, and societal contradictions arise from the normal expression of these nature-based executive impulses, so that the business corporation cannot simultaneously satisfy society’s moral expectations and perform its nature-dictated economic functions.
12. The Ruffin Series of the Society for Business Ethics: Volume > 4
Mollie Painter-Morland A Response to William C. Frederick: The Possibility of Moral Responsibility Within Corporations as Complex Systems
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This paper addresses the inherent danger of relativism in any naturalistic theory about moral decision-making and action. The implications of Frederick’s naturalistic view of corporations can easily lead one to believe that it has become impossible for theevolutionary firm (EF) to act with moral responsibility. However, if Frederick’s naturalistic account is located within the context of hisand other writers’ insights about complexity science, it may become possible to maintain a sense of creative, pragmatic moral decision-making in the face of supposedly deterministic forces. Business’s most creative response to moral dilemmas takes place “at the edge of chaos,” where a temporary order comes into being via self-organization. This process of self-organization is influenced by a great number of variables. Some of these variables are the x-factor configurations of individuals and groups, which cannot necessarilydetermine, but can influence the moral-decision-making process. Moral responsibility becomes part of a complex process throughwhich creative, value-driven solutions emerge.
13. The Ruffin Series of the Society for Business Ethics: Volume > 4
Sandra A. Waddock A Developmental and Systemic Perspective on Frederick’s “The Evolutionary Firm and Its Moral (Dis)Contents”
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These comments on Frederick’s “The Evolutionary Firm and Its Moral (Dis)Contents” focus on two dominant themes to provide a more optimistic perspective on Frederick’s conclusions. First is the need to take a systemic orientation at the societal and ecological levels to gain a perspective on ecologizing rather than economizing. Second, is the need to take a developmental perspective, on the assumption that evolution is still occurring, and that what may be needed to get humankind to the systemic/ecologizing orientation is a higher level of awareness, greater cognitive (and moral) development than is currently prevalent.
14. The Ruffin Series of the Society for Business Ethics: Volume > 4
Edwin M. Hartman De Rerum Natura
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Aristotelian naturalism is a good vantage point from which to consider the moral implications of evolution. Sociobiologists err in arguing that evolution is the basis for morality: not all or only moral features and institutions are selected for. Nor does the longevity of an institution argue for its moral status. On the other hand, facts about human capacities can have implications concerning human obligations, as Aristotle suggests. Aristotle’s eudaimonistic approach to ethics suggests that the notion of interests is far subtler than many have realized, and leaves open the possibility that cooperativeness may be adaptive, virtuous, and a good thing for the agent. Lawrence and Nohria argue along remarkably similar lines, and they provide evidence against those who would question the existence of character. But promising as the Aristotelian approach is, it seems to give an inadequate account of our moral responsibility to those who are not members of our community.
15. The Ruffin Series of the Society for Business Ethics: Volume > 4
Lisa H. Newton Can Science Tell Us What Is Right? An Argument for the Affirmative, With Qualifications
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We argue that the goal of natural excellence, discoverable by scientific observation of the species, is appropriately called good, and the proper object of human development and education. That affirmation stands, but we are forced to acknowledge several conceptual difficulties (in the deliberate creation of “natural” excellences, for example, and in cases of plurality of excellences) and a final inability to reconcile human freedom—surely part of the natural excellence of human life—with the need to prevent humans from using that freedom to sacrifice it (through, for instance, drugs, self-indulgence, and emotional enthusiasms).
16. The Ruffin Series of the Society for Business Ethics: Volume > 4
Robert A. Phillips Brief Remarks on the Evolutionary Method
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There are explicit claims to Darwinian thinking in numerous fields of study. A common temptation associated with this method across disciplines is to call some attributes “natural” and others “cultural” in origin. But this distinction can be dangerous—particularly when applied to ethics. When employing the Darwinian method, ideas should be evaluated in the same way whether the characteristics are described as natural or as cultural. We should ascertain the moral usefulness of a trait irrespective of its genetic basis or lack thereof. The nature/culture distinction is irrelevant to ethics. If Darwinian thinking connotes or implies an important difference, it is a dangerous idea to moral theory. I don’t believe the method denotes such a distinction, and in fact helps ethicists ask and answer many interesting questions that would not have arisen without it. But great care should be taken.
section ii: variations on the theme: business, science and ethics
17. The Ruffin Series of the Society for Business Ethics: Volume > 4
Joseph DesJardins Explanation and Justification: The Relevance of the Biological and Social Sciences to Business Ethics
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This paper attempts to sort through some of the challenges facing those of us who look to empirical science for help in doing normative business ethics. I suggest that the distinction between explanation and justification, a distinction at the heart of the difference between descriptive social science and normative ethics, is often overlooked when social scientists attempt to draw ethical conclusions from their research.
18. The Ruffin Series of the Society for Business Ethics: Volume > 4
Ronald K. Mitchell Evolutionary Biology Research, Entrepreneurship, and the Morality of Security-Seeking Behavior in an Imperfect Economy
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This article investigates whether there is an underlying morality in the ways that human beings seek to obtain economic security within our imperfect economy, which can be illuminated through evolutionary biology research. Two research questions are the focus of the analysis: (1) What is the transaction cognitive machinery that is specialized for the entrepreneurial task of exchange-based security-seeking? and, (2) What are the moral implications of the acquisition and use of such transaction cognitions?Evolutionary biology research suggests within concepts that are more Darwin- v. Huxley-based, an underlying morality supportive of algorithm-governed economizing arising from the behaviors that are most worthy of long-term reproduction. Evolutionarily stable algorithm-enhanced security-seeking is argued to be a new view of entrepreneurship, but one that, somewhat ironically, is grounded in a primordially-based entrepreneurial morality that is at the core of economic security.
19. The Ruffin Series of the Society for Business Ethics: Volume > 4
Tara J. Radin To Propagate and to Prosper: A Naturalistic Foundation for Stakeholder Theory
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This article examines the contribution of nature and the sciences toward a deeper understanding of business. Integrating these disciplines with stakeholder theory opens up new avenues for thinking about business that will potentially offer greater success in addressing the disconnect between moral discretion and the behavior of businesspeople. The specific focus is on integration of modern Darwinism (evolutionary psychology) and business theory. According to modern Darwinism, there are insufficient resources for all genes to reproduce. Natural selection occurs as genes compete to reproduce and those best suited for survival are able to reproduce. During the struggle, human beings are motivated by impulses intended to further reproduction, which lead them into many fruitful endeavors—such as participation in corporations. As genes strive to be passed on to the next generation, a consequence is their contribution to productivity and prosperity. By developing insight into the evolutionary process, we can create mechanisms that help us to manage human behavior in order to promote moral behavior. Connecting people with their natural selves provides for a more robust understanding of business.
20. The Ruffin Series of the Society for Business Ethics: Volume > 4
Notes On Contributors
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