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Ideology as Rationalization and as Self-Righteousness: Psychology and Law as Paths to Critical Business Ethics

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 January 2015

Wayne Eastman*
Rutgers University


Research on political ideology in law and psychology can be fruitfully applied to the question of whether business ethics is ideological, and, if so, what response is warranted. I suggest that legal and psychological research streams can be drawn upon to create a new genre of critical business ethics that differs from normative and empirical business ethics. In psychology, Moral Foundations Theory (MFT) suggests how the mainstream ideology within an academic field can be criticized as a reflection of a self-righteous, us-them mind-set. In law, Critical Legal Studies (CLS) suggests how a field’s mainstream ideology can be criticized as a rationalization of the status quo. I suggest that the MFT and CLS criticisms of ideology can be joined to develop a critical approach to business ethics that seriously examines science on normatively charged topics, such as liberal-conservative differences and implicit attitudes, and that frames it in terms of alternative narratives.

Copyright © Society for Business Ethics 2013

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