Pluralistic business ethics: the significance and justification of moral free space in integrative social contracts theory
Article first published online: 20 JUN 2011
© 2011 The Author. Business Ethics: A European Review © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Business Ethics: A European Review
Special Issue: Where is business ethics?
Volume 20, Issue 3, pages 253–266, July 2011
How to Cite
Dempsey, J. (2011), Pluralistic business ethics: the significance and justification of moral free space in integrative social contracts theory. Business Ethics: A European Review, 20: 253–266. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8608.2011.01629.x
- Issue published online: 20 JUN 2011
- Article first published online: 20 JUN 2011
Integrative social contracts theory (ISCT) has been an influential theory in normative business ethics for well over a decade, drawing attention both as an object of criticism and as a source of inspiration. In this paper I argue that, despite this attention, the fact that it is a genuinely pluralistic theory, in the tradition of pluralistic theories of political philosophy, is often overlooked. It is in the notion of moral free space that this pluralism is most clearly expressed. This oversight is unfortunate for two reasons. Firstly, it prevents the potential of ISCT, as a normative theory of business ethics, from being appreciated fully; secondly, it leads us to ignore resources that could help tackle its most problematic flaws. In this second respect, I show how some of these flaws could be addressed by paying closer attention to the similarities between ISCT and John Rawls' theory of Political Liberalism.