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A critical interrogation of corporate social responsibility and global distributive justice

By Eliza J. Gaffney


This thesis provides a critical interrogation of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and global distributive justice. The central argument of the thesis is that global corporations display profound effects on people‘s life chances, which should render such corporations subject to principles of global distributive justice. Such principles, it is argued, ought to reflect the complex realities of the political-economic circumstances within which corporations operate. Thus the thesis provides an account of global distributive justice that speaks to both political philosophical attempts to ground discussion of global justice in the extant realities of globalisation, as well to critical accounts of the corporation within the global economy that as yet lack a normative foundation on which proposals for reform can be based. The thesis argues that both statist and cosmopolitan conceptions of justice have neglected the important role corporations play in many unjust circumstances. In an attempt to reconcile the gap that often exists in political philosophy between theory and practice, the thesis discusses two sets of normative standards that it argues ought to apply to corporate activity. The first set, the ideal-aspirational set, draws on Rawlsian ideas to do with property-owning democracy, and argues that a fully just corporation on this reading would set restrictions on corporate size, profit and executive remuneration, as well as requiring a change from concentrated ownership in the hands of a few, to widespread ownership. The second set of ideas, those of concessive theory - to which priority is given - concedes to the facts of global corporations and global capitalism, and addresses both substance and procedure in relation to global distributive justice. In relation to substance, a do no harm principle is suggested as the basic normative minimum standard by which corporate activity should be assessed. In relation to procedure, the application of an all affected interests principle would give those who experience the profound effects of corporations a right to a say in decisions taken that affect their lives. Cutting across these principles are five conditions that would work towards their implementation throughout global corporate activity. These conditions are: pre-consultative learning, transparency and disclosure of information, a consultative forum, evaluation, and the opportunity for redress. The thesis concludes with an assessment of the UN Global Compact and an analysis of the extent to which the Compact meets the ideas of thesis, as well as making recommendations for reform of the Compact on the basis of these ideas

Topics: JZ
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:3149

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