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Corporate social responsibility and the role of transnational corporations in global justice

This thesis poses two questions: (1) Why should transnational corporations ("TNCs") have responsibilities in global justice, and (2) If the business of business is business, why should it care about global justice. My objective is to lay the foundation for a coherent theory of corporate social responsibility ("CSR") - one that presents a normative account of the moral basis for, and the constraints on, CSR. The conception of CSR here is about the role TNCs ought to play in global justice, which is distinct from what business ethics is about. Addressing the first question, my thesis is that, only when we have a rigorous conception of what responsibility is, will we be able to construct an account of who is responsible. So instead of asking 'What does an ideal cosmopolitan just global order look like.' and then trying to "fit in" TNCs, a constructivist approach that asks the basic question: 'What is responsibility.' is adopted. Moreover, the theme of 'responsibility' is supported by a notion of 'global justice as duty', contrary to the predominant rights-based approach to global justice. I then articulate a category of corporate responsibility based on capabilities and the scope of that responsibility. Despite its normative intentions, a theory of CSR cannot offer action-guiding principles unless it takes into account the real-life business constraints corporations face. I address the second question and suggest how we can think philosophically about these non-moral constraints on CSR - chiefly, companies' fiduciary duty to maximise profits and shareholder value. The question is how these business considerations fit into our philosophical remit. Contrary to normative theories that attempt to "squeeze" everything into ideal theory (e.g. theories based on economic rationality), I argue that a full realisation of the role of TNCs in global justice should prompt theorists to devote more attention to non-ideal theory.
Date January 2009
CreatorsLim, Ai Leen
PublisherLondon School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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