Society for Business Ethics 2007: Day 1 (afternoon)

(I’m blogging brief notes from the Society for Business Ethics conference.)

My afternoon started with attending a session on Ken Goodpaster’s book, Conscience and Corporate Culture.

Goodpaster took the podium first and sketched the outline of the book. He said that central to his book is the notion of “teleopathy,” which he defines as a mindset that involves “the unbalanced pursuit of purpose.”

Next, Jeffery Smith gave some comments on Goodpaster’s book, and focused on the sense in which the notion of conscience involves finding an equilibrium between appeal to general principles, and a focus on the particularities of specific situations. Smith also drew a number of comparisons between Goodpaster’s book and Patricia Werhane’s work on moral imagination.

Then Wim Dubbink made a presentation (on Goodpaster) called “Is Teleopathy a Pathology?” He situated Goodpaster’s work within a history of critiques of the market. He also suggested that Goodpaster needs to tell us more about the sources of teleopathy, and the extent to which teleopathy is a necessary, or only contingent, feature of free-market capitalism.

Goodpaster then offered a response to Smith’s & Dubbink’s commentaries. He said too much to summarize, but one nice point he made had to do with the sense in which moral “imagination” allows moral agents to get closer to the reality of other agents, rather than (as some might suppose) the ability to engage in flights of (moral) fancy.
———-
The afternoon ended with a moving tribute to Robert Soloman, a phenomenally productive and well-respected philosopher of business, who passed away in January. The session was chaired by SBE President Ed Hartman, and featured remembrances of Robert by his friends and fellow scholars Robert Audi, Joanned Ciulla, Daryl Koehn, and Richard Nielsen, along with lots of moving and funny anecdotes from members of the audience. I regret that I never got to meet a man who was so much admired, respected, and loved.

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