The Separation of Technology and Ethics in Business Ethics

13 Pages Posted: 28 May 2009 Last revised: 26 Apr 2015

Kirsten E. Martin

George Washington University School of Business

R. Edward Freeman

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Date Written: September 1, 2004

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Martin, Kirsten E. and Freeman, R. Edward, The Separation of Technology and Ethics in Business Ethics (September 1, 2004). Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 53, No. 4, pp. 353-364, 2004. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1410846

Kirsten E. M. Martin (Contact Author)

George Washington University School of Business ( email )

Washington, DC 20052
United States

R. Edward Freeman

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States
804-924-0935 (Phone)
804-924-6378 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.darden.virginia.edu/faculty/freeman.htm

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