v4 n6 Barbeau on Moriarty on Democratic Corporate Governance

Aimee Barbeau“Deliberative Democracy and Corporate Governance” by Aimee E. Barbeau

A COMMENTARY ON Jeffrey Moriarty (2014), “The Connection Between Stakeholder Theory and Stakeholder Democracy: An Excavation and Defense,” Bus & Soc 53(6): 820–852. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0007650312439296

Jeffrey Moriarty argues for a return to a robust notion of stakeholder theory involving direct procedural voting by stakeholders. He asserts that such voting offers the best possible chance of restraining firm behavior and taking into account all stakeholder interests. I argue, however, that Moriarty proceeds with an overly narrow conception of democracy, ignoring problems that arise from procedural voting. Specifically, paradoxes in voting procedures, the tyranny of the majority, and the inefficacy of representation advantage well-organized and moneyed interests. A stakeholder democracy may in fact undermine the very interests that Moriarty seeks to promote.

To download the full PDF, click here: Barbeau on Moriarty

v4 n5 Thauer Responds to van der Ven

thauer“The Choice for CSR: Strategic Rationale versus Values?” by Christian R. Thauer

A RESPONSE TO Hamish van der Ven (2013), “Bringing Values Back into CSR”Bus Ethics J Rev 1(16): 99–105.

Abstract: In a recent Commentary, Hamish van der Ven criticizes my strategic rationale-based approach to why firms decide to adopt and implement CSR standards. He argues that my approach is analytically flawed; rather than strategic rationale, values motivate firms in favor of CSR. In this response, I explain why I disagree with his criticism and approach. I maintain that strategic rationale, not values, drive firms’ decision-making for CSR.

To download the full PDF, click here: Thauer responds to van der Ven

v4 n4 Schäfer and Hühn on Levine and Boaks


Huehn Navarra“How much Aristotle is in Levine & Boaks’ Leadership Theory?” by Viktoria Ramona Schäfer and Matthias Philip Hühn

A COMMENTARY ON Michael P. Levine and Jacqueline Boaks (2014), “What Does Ethics Have to do with Leadership?” J Bus Ethics 124:225-242.

Levine and Boaks criticize the extant leadership literature for misrepresenting the connection between ethics and leadership. They propose a definition that they claim is novel and based on Aristotelian virtue ethics. This commentary argues that this approach, while it is an interesting idea, is essentially un-Aristotelian and that other approaches, for instance Alejo Sison’s and Joanne Ciulla’s are not only closer to Aristotle, but also do not have the problems that the authors identify in the mainstream of the leadership literature.

To download the full PDF, click here: Schäfer and Hühn on Levine and Boaks

v4 n3 von Kriegstein on Jones and Felps

H-von-Kriegstein“Armchair versus Armchair: Let’s Not Try to Guess the Social Value of Corporate Objectives” by Hasko von Kriegstein

A COMMENTARY ON Thomas M. Jones and Will Felps (2013), “Shareholder Wealth Maximization and Social Welfare: A Utilitarian Critique” Bus Ethics Q 23(2): 207–238. http://doi.org/10.5840/beq201323215

Jones and Felps claim that social welfare would be enhanced, if corporate managers adopted the goal of directly improving the happiness of their stakeholders instead of profit maximization. I argue that their argument doesn’t establish this. They show that a utilitarian case for profit orientation cannot be made from the armchair. But neither can the case for Jones and Felps’ preferred alternative. Moreover, their defense of it relies on empirically unsubstantiated assumptions.

To download the full PDF, click here: von Kriegstein on Jones and Felps

v4 n2 Brennan and Jaworski Respond to Layman

Jason Brennan and Peter Jaworski“Klotzes and Glotzes, Semiotics and Embodying Normative Stances” by Jason Brennan and Peter Jaworski

A RESPONSE TO Daniel Layman (2016), “Expressive Objections to Markets: Normative, Not Symbolic”Bus Ethics J Rev 4(1): 36–41.

Abstract: Daniel Layman’s “Expressive Objections to Markets: Normative, Not Symbolic” attempts to critique our recent paper debunking semiotic objections to commodification. Semiotic objections hold that commodifying certain goods and services is wrong because doing so expresses disrespect for the things in question. Layman claims instead that the problem is that such markets “embody” the “wrong norms” or the “wrong deliberative stance”. Given the length-requirements, we, at the moment, need to hear a lot more about the difference between “embodying” a norm, and expressing it. As far as we can tell at the moment, we’re suspicious that he might be begging the question, or just re-describing semiotic objections in a more obscure way.

To download the full PDF, click here: Brennan and Jaworski Respond to Layman.

v4n1 Layman on Brennan and Jaworski

Daniel_Layman“Expressive Objections to Markets: Normative, Not Symbolic” by Daniel Layman

A COMMENTARY ON Jason Brennan and Peter Jaworski (2015), “Markets Without Symbolic Limits,” Ethics 125(4): 1053–1077

Jason Brennan and Peter Jaworski reject expressive objections to markets on the grounds that (1) market symbolism is culturally contingent, and (2) contingent cultural symbols are less important than the benefits markets offer. I grant (1) and (2), but I deny that these points suffice as grounds to dismiss expressive critiques of markets. For many plausible expressive critiques of markets are not symbolic critiques at all. Rather, they are critiques grounded in the idea that some market transactions embody morally inappropriate normative stances toward the goods or services on offer.

To download the full PDF, click here: Layman on Brennan and Jaworski.

Welcome to Volume 4

Welcome to 2016, and to Volume 4 of the Business Ethics Journal Review. Volume 4 signals that we are now in our 4th year of publication. The fact that our experiment in shaking up academic business ethics publication is still running at this point is encouraging, in an era in which online publishing still hasn’t entirely taken hold in academia.

2015 saw a number of exciting events for BEJR. In early 2015, the editors founded the Journal Review Foundation, a non-profit corporation that now acts as BEJR’s publisher. This move helps to ensure a stable future for BEJR, and provides a legal entity to own BEJR’s intellectual property in perpetuity. The Foundation also provides a framework within which to expand activities beyond BEJR. Within the next month, the Foundation will be publishing a book (a collection of essays on social justice), and we are currently in talks regarding starting a second journal.

The editors also founded, in March of 2015, Business Ethics Highlights, a news and opinion aggregator, which has so far received tremendous feedback. In order to highlight how useful BEH could be in the classroom, we also published two relevant guides: “How Instructors Can Use Business Ethics Highlights” and “How Students Can Use Business Ethics Highlights.”

2015 also marked our first formal appearance at the annual meeting of the Society for Business Ethics. The Journal Review Foundation (and naturally BEJR) had a table in the “book room” at SBE, and co-editor Chris MacDonald used the opportunity to hand out printed copies of BEJR commentaries and to explain BEJR’s distinctive model to attendees.

So far, it looks like 2016 is off to a good start: the editors have a number of items in the pipeline, and our first Commentary of the year — a commentary on a recently-published book — will go online within a week. So stay tuned!