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Standard accounts of reciprocal citizenship hold that citizens have a duty to participate in politics. Against this, several business ethicists and philosophers have recently argued that people can satisfy their obligations of civic reciprocity non-politically, by owning, managing, or working in for-profit businesses. In this article, I reject both the standard and the market accounts of reciprocal citizenship. Against the market view, I show that the ordinary work of profit maximization cannot take the place of traditional political activity. Yet contra the standard political account, I show that a special class of the actions we perform in our work as employers and employees in for-profit companies can fulfill our obligations of reciprocity. Business ethicists must therefore develop a more nuanced account of the relationship between for-profit business endeavors and the debts we owe fellow citizens who undertake burdensome political work to our benefit.
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- Beyond Profit and Politics: Reciprocity and the Role of For-Profit Business
- Publication date
- Springer Netherlands
Journal of Business Ethics
Print ISSN: 0167-4544
Electronic ISSN: 1573-0697
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