Inversions And Morality: The Heart Of Kant's Ethical Theory

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Register to read the introduction… A full discussion of the concept of a ‘‘maxim’’ would require a lengthy exposition; for the purposes of this paper, it is sufficient to view an action’s ‘‘maxim’’ as an objective description both of the action and of the reasons for which it is done. In the case of inversions, the maxim is ‘‘reincorporate in another country in order to pay lower taxes’’. In order for an action with this maxim to be ethical, it must be possible for the maxim to be willed as universal law. According to Kant’s theory, we decide whether an action can be (i.e., is able to be) willed as universal law by means of a very simple test. Is the maxim selfcontradictory? If it is, it cannot intelligibly be willed at all, let alone as universal law, and therefore the action it describes is not moral. Self-contradictions (such as ‘‘Let everyone be simultaneously rich and poor!’’) are, strictly speaking, vacuous: they don’t tell us anything, other than that the speaker is very deeply confused. One certainly cannot desire or intend that the world conform to what has been said. Using Kant’s theory, for inversion to be ethical it would have to be possible, without self-contradiction, to will that all companies change their locus of incorporation in order to pay lower taxes. Is this possible? We may begin to arrive …show more content…
More recently, businesses have broadened their attention to include other stakeholders. Gibson (2000) identified over 200 articles on stakeholders in philosophy and business journals during the period 1996–1998. We combine stakeholder theory with utilitarianism to offer managers another way of thinking about the ethics of inversion. Utilitarian ethics, as conceptualized by Mill, is a consequentialist approach: the effects of an act allow us to decide whether it is moral. For utilitarianism, an action is ethical if its consequences result in the greatest happiness for the largest number of those affected by the action. This means that in order to decide what strategy is ethical, a cost/benefit analysis must be done for all those affected. The morally correct alternative will be that which gives the best result overall (Ferrell et al., 2002). Mehafdi (2000), disregarding the fact that Mill’s theory requires consideration of both pleasures and pains (happiness and unhappiness), focuses exclusively on the question of harm, where the dimensions of harm include the physical, economic, and psychological, in his discussion of international transfer pricing. Here, we will look at the last two of those factors, economic and psychological, in developing a framework for the evaluation of inversions. We also return to

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