I chose to explore Edwin Hartman’s article “Donaldson on Rights and Corporate Obligations” for this week’s cited reference search blog post. Just to recap, the article discusses Donaldson’s belief that certain fundamental human rights generate correlative duties for the corporation, including 1) the duty to avoid depriving people of their rights, 2) the duty to help protect people from such deprivation, and 3) the duty to aid those who are deprived. Hartman introduces a fourth category of duty to the list, which he refers to as the duty to avoid helping to deprive. He argues that the corporation is not obligated to contribute to protecting anyone from deprivation, but it needs to make sure that no action it takes helps the depriver succeed in depriving.
Since the article was published in 1991, I thought that it would be interesting to see what other publications have cited it since then. Using Google Scholar, I found that Hartman’s original article had only been cited by 3 other publications.
The one I chose to examine more closely is “La responsabilidad moral de la empresa. Una revisión de la teoría de Stakeholder desde la ética discursiva”/”The moral responsibility of the business. A review of the Stakeholder theory from discursive ethics”. It is a doctoral thesis presented by Elsa González Esteban and directed by Dr. Domingo Garcia-Marza of the Universitat Jaume I de Castellón. It was published in 2011, so it is rather recent information. In total, it has 576 pages and it is written in Spanish.
I did not read the whole thesis, but I was basically able to understand the main argument from the introduction section. The main objective is to raise the possibility of a comprehensive model of stakeholders that is capable of giving reason to the moral responsibility of the company and its application or implementation in business practice. The model of stakeholders is supported by the basic integrative model of business ethics and the concept of post-conventional responsibility. It is configured as a framework from which to develop responses of moral, ethical, and practical constraints of the business environment and to collect and combine the methodology of stakeholders. It also ties in discursive ethics, corporate social responsibility, stakeholder theory, business ethics, management of the moral responsibility of the company, and moral philosophy.
The part that relates to Hartman’s article is about business social and moral responsibility and the conditions by which a business is a moral agent. It also focuses on the moral decision-making process, specifically that it must have two elements: (1) the capacity to use moral reasoning in making decisions, and (2) the understanding that the decision-making process controls not only the actions of the business, but also the structure of politics and rules. In a later section of the thesis, another article of Hartman entitled “Values and The Foundations of Strategic Management” is cited.
I think that the thesis could be a very useful tool for me in the upcoming assignments for class. Although a bit lengthy, it is very current, which means that it has updated information, and also, it seems to be a pretty complete and comprehensive work.