Society for Business Ethics 2007: Day 2 (afternoon)

(More blogging live from the Society for Business Ethics conference.)

I spent the afternoon attending an “Emerging Scholars” session, which consisted of four very fine presentations.

Tara Ceranic (a Ph.D. student at University of Washington) presented on “The Importance of Being Emotional.” Her main question: how do emotions affect ethical behaviour? She focused on guilt, compassion, contempt and elevation (the last of which essentially means praise-of-others), how each of these might be correlated with ethical behaviour, and how particular contexts might influence emotion.

Next, Bidhan Parmar (U of Virginia) gave a presentation called “Moral Psychology & Business Ethics: From Individual Sensemaking to Organizational Interpretation.” (In addition to giving a very good presentation, Parmar distinguished himself by being the very first person in SBE history to play Stairway to Heaven backward, as part of his presentation, to let the audience hear the hidden message.)

Third, Miguel Alzola (Rutgers University) spoke about “The Moral Psychology of Character in Business Ethics,” which was a defence of virtue theory against situationist philosophers and social psychologists. (Situationists argue that there just is no such thing as “character,” on the grounds that human behaviour has been experimentally proven to be highly variable according to small changes in situations.) Roughly, Alzola argued that situationists a) are mistaken about what it is that virtue theory actually claims, and b) are mistaken about the implications of their own experimental data.

Finally, Jeff York (U of Virginia) made a presentation called “Stakeholder Green,” about whether & how the natural environment ought to be considered a stakeholder in corporate decision-making. York’s project is in its early stages, but basically he wants to argue that the natural environment ought to be eligible to be counted as a stakeholder, roughly on consequentialist grounds.

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