John Hasnas gives a brief introduction to his book, Trapped: When Acting Ethically Is Against the Law. Recently published in 2013, the book is based on the premise that the current federal structure creates incentives for corporate wrong-doing, rather than preventing it. The background is set in the american legal system, and the periodic involvement of the federal government in criminal law. This type of common law historically evolved to be managed exclusively by state governments. As the federal government began to regulate markets, its policies resulted in inadequate legislation: a corporation is punishable if any of its employees commits a crime. This form of “non-liberal” deterrence allows law to punish people who aren’t guilty, for those who are, or to prevent others from committing crimes.
In reality, this set-up traps business owners in an ethical dilemma: in order to protect your company, you must cooperate with the federal government. Companies become deputy law enforcers, that must lose all organizational justice and fair treatments to employees. Invasion of employee privacy, and efforts to hide criminal activity are the logical solutions to protect the company and stockholder interests. All in all, the federal structure does not reduce unethical behavior. Rather, it incites it.
John Hasnas is author of the book Trapped: When Acting Ethically…
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Nuestra misión es la enseñanza y difusión de los principios éticos, jurídicos y económicos de una sociedad de personas libres y responsables.
Universidad Francisco Marroquín