Essay Assignment 2


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.) Please examine either the morality of “sweatshop” labor, the condition of labor in the “developed” world, or both if you find it useful to bring them into some relation to each other, as is treated in essays by Maitland, Arnold & Bowie, as well as in the film Up in the Air as we interpreted it in light of Heidegger’s essay.

Some questions you might address: Is the morality of labor (in sweatshops or corporate offices) best examined in respect to human dignity or the best (or least bad) likely consequences? What role should meaning or freely chosen purpose play in labor? Should we worry about a kind of coercion that one might find in the form of manipulation of the need for meaning such as is on display in Up in the Air (note how United Airlines appeals to “loyalty,” or how Hertz and other companies cultivate a sense of belonging)? What role does exploitation play in the prevailing conditions of labor? Does expression on the part of laborers of a wish to keep their positions (as testified to in the case of sweatshop labor by Maitland, or as we witness in the case of labor in the developed world in Up in the Air) testify to the absence of exploitation?

2.) Critically consider and evaluate the responsibilities of business corporations as evaluated by thinkers such as Friedman and Freeman. In the words of Freeman, “For whose benefit and at whose expense should the firm be managed?”

Some questions you might address: Ought corporations to be run by managers who regard themselves as mere agents? To whom are they responsible? Do they have a special, or even exclusive obligation to shareholders (“stockholders”)? Or might they be responsible also to a wider range of “stakeholders”? If managers are to accept responsibility to this wider group, how are the interests of those stakeholders to be balanced with those of the shareholders when they conflict? Is directing the firm to serve the wider interests of shareholders really a matter of misdirecting private enterprise to serve public ends, as Friedman argues? Or is doing so, as Freeman insists, merely to understand the health of the company as contingent upon looking after a wider community of interests?


First, review this document. It might also be helpful to quickly review it at stages later in your writing process.

Next, you should craft a detailed outline wherein you determine what ideas, questions, and illustrating examples you might like to use and what order to best put them in. This outline should be detailed enough such that writing the actual essay is largely a matter of clearly presenting thoughts that you have already worked out and considered.

With your rough draft completed and submitted, your writing process should then turn to revision. To facilitate this, I have created a Revision Exercise. This is a required part of the assignment. It will guide you through a process of evaluating each paragraph of your essay for clarity and meaning and help you to identify where your essay needs more work to maximize both. Once you have completed that work, you’ll have a final draft ready for submission.


Your final draft should be roughly 3-4 pages, typed, double-spaced, in 12 pt. Times New Roman font with 1″ margins, top, bottom, and sides. Your work should be thoroughly proofread and completely free of misspellings and grammatical errors. No separate cover page is necessary, but be sure that both your name and the name of the GE who runs your discussion section (Audrey, Puja, or Valérie) are at the top of the first page.