Western Washington University Western Washington University ------------------------------------------------------------------------- --------------------------------

Business and its Environment

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Discussion Questions for International Issues:


1) In 'Taking Sides,' Manuel Velasquez makes the argument that, absent international enforcement agencies, multinational corporations are free from moral obligations.
Is this a 'good' argument?
Can you provide any examples of instances in which a person may be said to have moral obligations, yet there is no enforcement mechanism related to these obligations?
How, if at all, does Valasquez's argument relate to the article 'Are Corporations Inherently Wicked?'
To 'The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits'?
Relate Velasquez's argument to the naturalistic fallacy (ref: course link to 'logical fallacies').

2) In his argument Velasquez claims:

It is a commonplace now that in a Prisoner's Dilemma situation, the most rational strategy for a participant is to choose not to cooperate. For the other party will either cooperate or not cooperate. If the other party cooperates, then it is better for one not to cooperate and thereby get the larger payoff. On the other hand, if the other party does not cooperate, then it is also better for one not to cooperate and thereby avoid a loss. In either case, it is better for one to not cooperate.
What is meant by 'rational' in this context?
How does this description 'square' with the commons game played in class?
What features of a Prisoner's Dilemma distinguish it from the commons game?
Relate Velasquez's argument to social contract theory; specifically, when might conforming ones behavior to the dictates of a social contract be considered 'rational'?

3) In responding to Velasquez, Fleming begins his note by writing "I feel that Professor Velasquez has written a very interesting and though-provoking paper on an important topic." Critique this opening statement.

4) Are the arguments of Velasquez and Fleming principally based upon descriptive or normative theory? Relate your response to the topic title: 'Are Corporations Free from Moral Obligations?' What principle might justify the approach of Velasquez and Fleming in responding to the 'prompt'?

5) With what moral (or social) justification might sweatshops be normatively permitted? Is this justification strong enough to override concern for perpetrating known harm(s) upon employees? Why or why not? Relate your response to the model of ethical decision-making presented in the streaming video lectures for this class.

6) Are not other stakeholders complicit in the visiting of harm upon child laborers in the third world? What mechanisms might be put in place to remedy such harm? How effective would you expect such mechanisms to be?

7) Are sweatshops necessarily evil?


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