1. Which of the ethical theories discussed in chapter 1 are you most sympathetic to? Why? Which of the ethical theories are you least sympathetic to? Why?
2. Critics raise a number of objections to the claim that the maximization of profits will always promote the general welfare. They argue that there are such things as “market failures.” For example, they argue that externalities provide examples of efficiently functioning markets failing to achieve optimal results. Common example of externalities would be such things as air pollution, ground water contamination and depletion, soil erosion, and nuclear waste disposal. The costs of such problems are borne by parties (e.g., people downwind, neighbors, future generations) who are not part of the exchange between seller and buyer. How does the claim that externalities constitute an objection to the claim that the maximization of profits will always promote the general welfare? Do you agree? Why, or why not? Explain.
3. The right to refuse workplace hazards has a fundamental conflict with the ability of a business to operate effectively (if employees refuse to work there can be no production). How should these competing interests be balanced? Support your position with appeals to ethical theories.
4. What potential benefits do you see as important in integrating different groups that are targeted under affirmative action policies? Are these benefits sufficient to justify affirmative action policies? Why, or why not?
5. Advertising to children in school is morally objectionable to many people. Some of the reasons used to criticize the practice include the following: First, children at school are a captive audience. Second, children are not yet autonomous and are typically unable to make the kind of rational distinctions that we attribute to adults. Third, schools have epistemic (knowledge) authority and so may be understood by children as endorsing the products. Do you believe that marketing to children in schools is morally wrong? Why, or why not?
6. Boatright argues that the best way of achieving the deterrent effect for which laws governing corporate responsibility are intended, is by placing the weight of responsibility for misconduct on the corporation (and derivatively on the shareholders) as opposed to individuals who actually conduct the misconduct. Do you agree with his assessment on pragmatic grounds? On moral grounds? Why?
7. Smith argues that there are valuable moral distinctions between direct, indirect, active, and passive violations of human rights. Do these distinctions make sense to you? Do you believe that corporations who merely follow the dictates of an authoritative figure are absolved of much of their moral culpability, even if their compliance knowingly leads to violations of human rights?
8. Explain the Kantian arguments Denis Arnold and Norman Bowie use in “Sweatshops and Respect for Persons” to support the claim that MNEs have duties to ensure that their off-shore contract factories meet minimum safety standards and provide a living wage for employees. Explain Ian Maitland’s argument that improving health and safety conditions and improving wages will cause greater harm than good. With whom do you agree more? Explain.
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