To deepen and demonstrate your understanding of various interconnected course materials in service of fulfilling the larger goals for the course as a whole. Primary among those goals are that you reflect with greater depth upon the nature of work, consumption, business ethics and personal identity and that you make use of a variety of major traditions of ethical theory in respect to matters of enterprise and exchange.
Write an essay in response to ONE!!! of the the following prompts:
1) Consider the charge advanced by feminist critics of traditional theories of corporate responsibility (whether of the “shareholder” or “stakeholder” variety) that they rely upon masculinist metaphors that reflect adherence to conceptions of the self and of markets that ignore social relations and their role in determining the nature of concrete subjects and their “interests.”
How might a consideration of the management of corporations and of the proper boundaries of markets in more relational terms change how we think about the values at stake in enterprise and exchange beyond maximizing profits? Upon a proper appreciation for how tightly related we now are in a technologically remade world, might it be best if we were to acknowledge the wider fact of the social (interconnected and cooperative) nature of production and then consider whether it might be better to adopt social cooperation (i.e. deliberate social control rather than market capitalism—“public socialism” rather than “capitalistic socialism”) as a method of determining the nature of that production and the distribution of goods as well, as Dewey would argue? Explain and provide support for your views with careful arguments.
2) Karl Marx argued that capitalism reduces workers to the status of commodities,. That is to say, rather than as subjects in the tradition of European moral thought (under the influence of Immanuel Kant), they become objects to be bought and sold, reduced in value to mere instruments to be exploited for maximum profits by and for those who control the “means of production” (the land, raw materials, etc. that we all depend on to survive but which they claim as private property). Explain how Marx further argued that capitalism causes us to be “alienated” from the product and the process of our labor, from our “species being,” and from our own specifically human capacities. Explain what he meant in each of these instances. Examples (your own, please) would help. What is at stake in this matter? If Marx is right, how could his analysis suggest that capitalism is not so consistent with democracy as is commonly supposed? Is his analysis troubling to you? Explain and provide support for your views with careful arguments.
3) John Kenneth Galbraith also criticized capitalism, arguing that it causes us to act irrationally, putting far more of our limited resources into satisfaction of wants for privately produced and marketed goods than for publicly rendered services. Carefully explain this argument. What would be irrational about such a state of affairs? What does he identify as “the dependence effect” and how does it account for this irrationality? How does he argue that the standard theory of consumer demand fails to identify this irrationality and wrongly regards our priorities as a matter of individual choice instead? How does Friedrich von Hayek challenge Galbraith’s analysis? Do you find his challenge convincing? Explain and provide support for your views with careful arguments.
4) How does Theodor Adorno argue that, in consumerist capitalism, our “free time” (time when we are free of work) is not really so free after all, and is perhaps better characterized by what he identifies as a state of “unfreedom”? What does he mean by “unfreedom”? How does that idea make use of Marx’s conception of alienation? If Adorno is right, what does that mean for the value of what we call “freedom” and for our prospects of living meaningful human lives? Does Adorno’s analysis trouble you at all? If so, does that fact perhaps indicate some basis for hope we might still be able to address this problem? Explain and provide support for your views with careful arguments.