Human Rights and Business Ethics: Fashioning a New Social Contract

Human Rights and Business Ethics: Fashioning a New Social Contract This paper argues that widely accepted understanding of the respective responsibilities of business and government in the post war industrialized world can be traced back to a tacit “social contract” that emerged following the second world war. The effect of this contract was to assign responsibility for generating wealth to business and responsibility for ensuring the equitable sharing of wealth to governments. Without question, this arrangement has resulted in substantial improvements in the quality of life in the industrialized world in the intervening period. I argue that with advance of economic globalization and the growing power and influence of multi national corporations, this division of responsibilities is not longer viable or defensible. What is needed, fifty years after the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, is a new social contract that shares responsibilities for human rights and related ethical responsibilities in a manner more in keeping with the vision captured by the post war Declaration. I conclude by suggesting some reasons for thinking that a new social contract may be emerging. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Business Ethics Springer Journals

Human Rights and Business Ethics: Fashioning a New Social Contract

Journal of Business Ethics, Volume 27 (2) – Oct 9, 2004

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2000 by Kluwer Academic Publishers
Subject
Philosophy; Ethics; Business and Management, general; Management; Business Ethics; Quality of Life Research
ISSN
0167-4544
eISSN
1573-0697
DOI
10.1023/A:1006488202305
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This paper argues that widely accepted understanding of the respective responsibilities of business and government in the post war industrialized world can be traced back to a tacit “social contract” that emerged following the second world war. The effect of this contract was to assign responsibility for generating wealth to business and responsibility for ensuring the equitable sharing of wealth to governments. Without question, this arrangement has resulted in substantial improvements in the quality of life in the industrialized world in the intervening period. I argue that with advance of economic globalization and the growing power and influence of multi national corporations, this division of responsibilities is not longer viable or defensible. What is needed, fifty years after the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, is a new social contract that shares responsibilities for human rights and related ethical responsibilities in a manner more in keeping with the vision captured by the post war Declaration. I conclude by suggesting some reasons for thinking that a new social contract may be emerging.

Journal

Journal of Business EthicsSpringer Journals

Published: Oct 9, 2004

References

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