Does a Business Have Any Social Obligation Beyong Profit Motive?

2561 Words Feb 4th, 2012 11 Pages
NAME: ZOHAIB BAKHTYAR

Topic: Does a business have any social obligation beyond profit motive?

Sources Used:
Arthur Miller, All My Sons,
Ferdinand Tonnies, The Argument
The Ethics of Business, The Economist
Profit Motive, The Guardian

Consideration of social responsibility is an important concern for the successful operation of a business. A business can be structured with the sole intention of maximizing profit, or it can be structured in a way in which social obligation beyond profit is considered. The two opposing views are introduced by Ferdinand Tonnies in The Argument, and correspond to his concepts of Gemeinschaft and Gesselschaft (Tonnies, Ferdinand "The Argument” from Community and Civil Society) The opposing nature of
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Joe Keller choses to remain blind to society and do what he believes is best for his family and his business. Although Joe Keller might have made an immoral decision in light of his social responsibility, he did it in light of what he thought was best for his family. In defense of his decision, Joe says “I’m in business, a man is in business; a hundred and twenty cracked, your out of business; you got a process, the process don’t work you’re out of business; you don’t know how to operate, your stuff is no good; they close you up, they tear your contracts, what the hell’s it to them? You lay forty years into a business and they knock you out in five minutes, what could i do, let them take forty years let them take my life away?” (Miller, Arthur. "Act Two." All My Sons, Pg 69) In his attempt to protect his business, Joe dissociates himself from the outside world, moving away from Gemeinschaft. However, the survival of his business does not justify an immoral decision that takes the lives of many. One can have a profit motive, but doing something that puts your partner in jail and yourself in the guilt of socially destroying his family and his partner’s family is not acceptable. One may argue that Joe doing it all for his family can be justified, but the fact is, that his decisions led to a renunciation of all social responsibility, and eventually lead to criminal

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