Proximity and Rationalisation: The Limits of a Levinasian Ethics in the Context of Corporate Governance and Regulation

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    11 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    In this article, I explore how the ideas of French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas offer insights into a debate often held today in the field of corporate governance, concerning the relative merits of statutory and voluntary approaches to the regulation of business. The philosophical position outlined by Levinas questions whether any rule-based systematisation of ethical responsibility, either statutory or voluntary, can ever equate to a genuine responsibility for the other person. I reflect on how various authors have adapted Levinas's philosophy to form a critique of bureaucracy and rule following in business, and the lack of ethical authenticity in corporate codes. However, this article also considers the question of whether a theoretical separation can be made between an ethical responsibility based on sensibility (as is suggested by Levinas) and a rational conceptualisation of how one is required to act. Considering the difficulty of disentangling these notions of ethics, I return to the problem of corporate governance and suggest an approach to stakeholder conflict based on mediation and dialogue, which rules out neither principles of conduct nor an openness of responsibility to the Other.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)565-577
    Number of pages13
    JournalJournal of Business Ethics
    Volume83
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008

    Keywords

    • Levinas
    • corporate governance
    • corporate regulation
    • the Other
    • dialogue
    • mediation
    • rationality
    • bureaucracy
    • SOCIAL-RESPONSIBILITY
    • BUSINESS ETHICS

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