Title: Contra contractarianism

Authors: Gabriel D. Donleavy

Addresses: School of Accounting, College of Business, University of Western Sydney, Locked bag 1797, Penrith South DC, NSW 1797, Australia

Abstract: Classical ethics are universal in their claims to bind people, but the field of business ethics has been especially vulnerable to ethical relativism. Within the field of jurisprudence there has been an attempt to decouple law from ethics by arguing law has an inner morality divorceable from its substantive provisions. Van Oosterhout et al. (2006) import this approach into the field of business relations in general and business contracts in particular. They claim integrated social contract theory is the best ethical paradigm for business, because it admits as ethics only what contracting parties have agreed to and a tiny number of additional norms that are generally accepted in the applicable business community. This attempt to privatise ethics is critically deconstructed in the present paper, by way of challenging a potentially virulent strain of ethical relativism.

Keywords: contract theory; business ethics; hyper norms; integrative social contracts theory; ISCT; language games.

DOI: 10.1504/IJEA.2010.036804

International Journal of Economics and Accounting, 2010 Vol.1 No.3, pp.223 - 231

Published online: 09 Nov 2010 *

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