The principle of double effect and moral risk
some case-studies of us transnational corporations
In this paper Werhane analyzes what Michael Walzer (1973) has called the "dirty hands problem." Here Walzer refers to the impossibility of being a perfectly ethical company while operating globally across complex political economies. Particularly at issue for Werhane are the ethical divergences arising from varying and competing cultural and religious norms in the complex array of transnational settings. Whether manufacturing in China and South East Asia, trading with Arab states, or procuring materials from African countries, every transnational company faces a range of potential moral risks. These could include colluding with corrupt and/or repressive governments while offering employment and technological transfer opportunities to a foreign country or in a different culture. Werhane does not come to any firm prescriptive conclusions on whether to operate in or avoid these situations. The emphasis here is the importance – for managers and companies – of being aware of the possibility of these trade-off challenges and weighing the effect of adding positive contributions versus dealing with "dirty hands."Original publication: Werhane, Patricia H. "The Principle of Double Effect and Moral Risk: Some Case-Studies of US Transnational Corporations." In Responsibility in World Business: Managing Harmful Side-effects of Corporate Activity, edited by L. Borman-Larsen and O. Wiggen, 105–20. New York: United Nations University Press, 2004. ©2004 Reprinted with permission.
Werhane, P. (2019)., The principle of double effect and moral risk: some case-studies of us transnational corporations, in D. Bevan & R. W. Wolfe (eds.), Systems thinking and moral imagination, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 345-358.
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