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business ethics

Corporate social responsibility and the supposed moral agency of corporations


The classic – and still largely dominant[1] – account of corporate governance has it that governance ought to operate in the interests of the stockholders, and that, in Milton Friedman’s (1970) words, ‘the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits’. This ought is grounded primarily legally: the executive has a contractual fiduciary responsibility to the shareholders as their ‘agent’.

Anarchism and business ethics: the social responsibility of the anarchist is to destroy business


Milton Friedman, the influential Chicago School scholar and Nobel prize winner, wrote ‘The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits’ (henceforth ‘The Social Responsibility’), an essay which has become a highly influential text within contemporary business ethics. Friedman’s work holds a ‘determinate position of prestige; organizing and mobilizing so many theoretical and practical conceptions of what might be the responsibilities of business’ (Jones, 2007: 512).

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