Business vs. the Environment

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Business vs. the Environment

Business today has so many responsibilities. Aside from making a profit, they are forced to take on a different responsibility, one that involves the environment. Even though, they already have many regulations set by the government, they are still being asked to answer to the call of helping out the rest of society take of nature. This essay will discuss the pros and cons of corporate responsibility for the environment through the agent-of-society and agent-of-capital views.

The agent-of-society view holds that corporate managers are prima facie obligated to consider the interests of everyone who is likely to be affected by what managers decide to do. With this view in mind, Michael Hoffman states, “Corporate managers should be held morally responsible for going beyond considerations of profits, law, and market morality to try to do what they can to help solve our most pressing environmental problems.” In his article, Hoffman argues that business must creatively find ways to become part of the solution, instead of the problem. Business should try to become more environmentally friendly and think of ways to help mitigate the many environmental problems we have. Consumers argue they have no control over or say in whether business provides environmentally friendly products or not. They argue that it’s not up to them “how the products are made, how the services are provided, or how the legislation is enacted.” Although, some businesses have tried to come up with environmentally friendly products but they find that consumers are unwilling to pay extra for them. He thinks corporations can and must develop a conscience, including an environmental conscience. Like the owner of the paper company, business should think of ways to stop the pollution and harm to the environment and take action quickly so that they can set an example for other businesses to follow.

One really good point that Hoffman made was that to ensure the survival of the planet, society needs the cooperation of all its players to solve its most urgent problems. But businesses don’t view this as something profitable to them so they don’t spend the time, money, or resources to try to solve the problems. They feel as if this is a problem that the government needs to find appropriate solutions to. Businesses are not ready or capable to take risks or ...

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...hat we should not adopt an agent-of-society view of corporate responsibility for the environment. There are three reasons why I have come to this conclusion. First, although Hoffman’s idea of society coming together to help save the environment and our planet is a good one, it will never work. There is not one single idea that society as a whole can agree on, especially not the environment, and as Friedman said, we will just have to conform to what everyone else agrees on. Second, even though we are all citizens, we tend to think of ourselves more as consumers because we are only focused on our well being and future. We don’t think of our every move as being something that will affect the environment or society. And lastly, I think Friedman is right in saying that business’s only social responsibility is to use its resources to engage in increasing profits as long as they stay within the rules of the game. That is the sole function of a business. Government can keep changing the rules and adding to them but business will not go above and beyond what is necessary for them to maintain their profits. These reasons go to show that the agent-of-society view is not a good one to adopt.

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