Corporate Sponsored Education: The Limits Of Social Responsibility Essay

Corporate Sponsored Education: The Limits Of Social Responsibility Essay

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Corporate Sponsored Education: The Limits Of Social Responsibility


ABSTRACT: The business sector increasingly subsidizes financially challenged institutions. Representative examples would include health care, major sports arenas, and penal facilities. Among the recent beneficiaries of corporate largesse are schools. Such assistance blurs social roles and raises serious moral concerns, especially those of moral agency. Education, more so than other social institutions, determines the kind of citizen and moral character a person can become. Put differently, education operates on virtue development that may override the fiscal logic of profit-maximization practiced by corporations. In this paper I argue that whatever benefit received by struggling schools is short-lived by comparison to the long range influence achieved by a corporation via advertisements that affect the psychological preferences of children. I contend that this makes the exchange unfair insofar as it violates the autonomy of the student. Education should provide a free and open atmosphere in which critical points of view are discussed. If corporations are permitted untrammeled access to schools, social views may become one-dimensional. Economic salvation would effectively trade on the moral failure of schools.

The familiar debate over corporate social responsibility draws against the classical view of Milton Friedman that the sole responsibility of corporations is to its stockholders. This narrow view eschews corporate social responsibility for the maximization of profits whereby society would be the indirect beneficiary of market capitalism. In contrast, the broader view held by Richard DeGeorge, Tom Donaldson, and Norman Bowie argue that corporations have...


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...Press, 1996) p. 12.

(3) David Brewster. Weekly Washington, p. 6, 1997.

(4) Alex Molnar, p. 66.

(5) D. Stead. New York Times, January 5, 1997, p. 33.

(6) John Kenneth Galbraith. "The Dependence Effect," in Beauchamp and Bowie, p. 500.

(7) Robert Arrington. "Advertising and Behavior Control." In Business Ethics, (Ed.) Thomas I. White. (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1993) p. 578.

(8) See Henry Frankfurt. "Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person." Journal of Philosophy, LXVIII (1971), 5-20.

(9) Richard L. Lippke. "Advertising and the Social Conditions of Autonomy." In Thomas I. White, p. 586.

(10) See Lynn Sharp Paine. "Children as Consumers: An Ethical Evaluation of Children's Television Advertising." In Thomas I. White, p. 619.

(11) Ibid., p. 622.

(12) Ibid., p. 623.

(13) P. Applebome. New York Times, March 16, 1997, p. E5.

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