Author(s)Goodpaster, Kenneth E.
the common good
checks & balance principle
moral projection principle
moral common ground principle
Business Law, Public Responsibility, and Ethics
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AbstractThis article attempts to answer the question, “What are the most important ideas from serving as Executive Editor of the five-year history project that culminated in the book, Corporate Responsibility: The American Experience?” The ideas focus on (1) clarifying the phenomenon of tenacity; (2) looking at three foundations of our tenacity; and (3) asking “How fragile is our tenacity?” This article also presents three foundational principles that underlie the American experience of corporate responsibility. First, the Checks & Balances Principle tells us that there are checks and balances in democratic capitalism which give us confidence that the pursuit of economic goals will be moderated for the common good. Second, the Moral Projection Principle shows that there is good reason to consider the corporation not only as a legal person under corporate law but also as a moral person. And, last, the Moral Common Ground Principle reflects that there are shared moral values ascertainable by well-developed consciences in individuals and in corporations. The article concludes with this argument: The tenacity regarding corporate responsibility that has been so characteristic of American capitalism is fragile—calling for serious vigilance if it is to endure.