The Separation of Technology and Ethics in Business Ethics
Kirsten E. Martin
George Washington University School of Business
R. Edward Freeman
University of Virginia - Darden School of Business
Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 53, No. 4, pp. 353-364, 2004
The purpose of this paper is to draw out and make explicit the assumptions made in the treatment of technology within business ethics. Drawing on the work of Freeman (1994, 2000) on the assumed separation between business and ethics, we propose a similar separation exists in the current analysis of technology and ethics. After first identifying and describing the separation thesis assumed in the analysis of technology, we will explore how this assumption manifests itself in the current literature. A different stream of analysis, that of science and technology studies (STS), provides a starting point in understanding the interconnectedness of technology and society. As we will demonstrate, business ethicists are uniquely positioned to analyze the relationship between business, technology, and society. The implications of a more complex and rich definition of lsquotechnologyrsquo ripple through the analysis of business ethics. Finally, we propose a pragmatic approach to understanding technology and explore the implications of such an approach to technology. This new approach captures the broader understanding of technology advocated by those in STS and allows business ethicists to analyze a broader array of dilemmas and decisions.
Keywords: business ethics, technology, pragmatism, stakeholder theory, science and technology studies
Date posted: May 28, 2009
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