Pragmatists believe that philosophical inquiry must engage closely with practice in order to be useful, and that practice serves as a source of social norms. As a growing alternative to the analytic and continental philosophical traditions, pragmatism is well suited for research in business ethics, but its role remains underappreciated. This article focuses on Richard Rorty, a key figure in the pragmatist tradition. We read Rorty as a source of insight about the ethical and political nature of business practice in contemporary global markets, focusing specifically on his views about moral sentiments, agency, and democratic deliberation. Importantly for business ethicists, Rorty’s approach sets in stark relief our moral responsibility as useful, practical thinkers in addressing the societal challenges of our time. We use “modern slavery” as an empirical context to highlight the relevance of Rorty’s approach to business ethics.
Keywords: Richard Rorty, pragmatism, moral sentiments, agency, democratic deliberation
Citation style: Chicago author-date
Accepted for publication in Business Ethics Quarterly, January 2021
Title: Business Ethics Quarterly [English]
ISSNs: Print: 1052-150X | Electronic: 2153-3326
Publishers: Cambridge University Press [University Publisher]