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Having trouble writing "Corporate Social Responsibility" essay

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I don't agree with the premise of "corporate social responsibility." According to the proselytizers of corporate social responsibility it is service to others that justifies a business' existence i.e. man isn't an end in himself.  If a CEO of a company came out and said that his business only exists to make a profit and that he doesn't have any sort of social responsibility outside of those people he voluntarily chooses to associate with, then that business would be vilified and condemned.

The paper is supposed to answer these questions:

 

  • Why is corporate social responsibility important to a company and to society as a whole?

I don't know why it is important.  I think that it is hard on the company and immoral. 

How will I be socially responsible when I become a business man after I graduate?

I don't want to be socially responsible in the sense of being a slave to the wishes of society.

  • What are the differences between corporate social responsibility and business ethics?

I'm not sure how they are different.  I know a business is socially responsible when it is perceived that it is doing things for the good of society without getting anything in return.  I have seen the term "business ethics" used in the same way. Maybe the difference between the two is that business ethics is primarily concerned with not violating individual rights?

  • Who are stakeholders and why are they important to a company?

I don't really see anything wrong with this question.  A stakeholder is someone who has an interest or concern in a company.  A stakeholder could be a customer, employee, investor, or supplier.  Basically, they are important because in order to stay in business the company has to keep them happy.

 

 

I doubt I will because I'm not the best writer, but if this paper could somehow get my professor and/or some of my fellow students to think twice about "corporate social responsibility"  that would be pretty cool. Ayn Rand said a man of genuine self esteem would shudder at the thought of altruism. Well, I don't think I have made it to the point where I shudder yet but sometimes when someone speaks of some variation of altruism as being the moral ideal I often find myself wanting to roll my eyes.

Any tips, and/or reading recommendations would be greatly appreciated.  

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I would ask if your grade for this paper is dependent on agreeing with the premises of the questions. Also, "stakeholder" is generally a junk term used to denote anybody who is in any way feasibly impacted by or for whatever reason cares about what a business does. They don't have to be involved in the business itself at all. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stakeholder_(corporate)

Edited by bluecherry

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9 hours ago, dadmonson said:

Any tips, and/or reading recommendations would be greatly appreciated.  

2 hours ago, bluecherry said:

I would ask if your grade for this paper is dependent on agreeing with the premises of the questions.

... Ditto.

Can you afford to flunk this paper for the chance to speak out? Think all of the possible consequences through.

 

I've done a bit of research on those concepts (just now) and they could refer to actual virtues, if you bent them slightly beyond their usual meanings. That way you could speak your mind and simply allow your audience to jump to the wrong conclusions.

 

Or... If the risks aren't really significant, you could do so many more interesting things...

:twisted:

 

By the way:

9 hours ago, dadmonson said:

I don't know why it is important.  I think that it is hard on the company and immoral.

Amen!

 

This sort of ties into what I said about stretching those terms, but isn't that a statement about business ethics?

When Howard Roark chose to work in the quarry, rather than sacrifice his own standards to the demands of potential customers, wasn't that an example of a rational business ethics?

 

You're damn right, corporations need a moral code: Egoism!

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
Amen!

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Oh these essays are always so much fun! I studied business for a couple years until I decided on a new career in psychology. Most courses in business ethics will provide space to form your own opinions on how a business should behave. Sure the language they use indicates an obvious bias towards altruism, utilitarianism, etc. but if you present your ideas strongly, they stand a fair chance of being taken seriously. I can't speak for all professors though. I can offer some tips that may help you actually enjoy these types of essays. 

10 hours ago, dadmonson said:

Why is corporate social responsibility important to a company and to society as a whole?

With a question like this, you will want to describe ways that businesses being involved in community projects can benefit the company. Your imagination is useful here, but maybe you can stumble across a news article. You can describe how a business's own success benefits society as a whole. You don't have to accept it's their obligation by doing this. Then once you've established that you can recognize their point of view fairly. Define what "social responsibility" means, and provide your position. Explain that you think that a business should be primarily concerned with its own success. This will necessitate satisfying the needs of consumers in a given society, and while that is not their primary goal, it is important to them.

Establish that what people call "social responsibility" is an incomplete perspective of business ethics. Businesses must be sociable, but that's not their primary goal.

 

11 hours ago, dadmonson said:

What are the differences between corporate social responsibility and business ethics?

"corporate social responsibility" is an ethical model depicting the proper ways a business should behave. Business ethics is the study of how businesses should behave and what business models are morally good or bad. Social responsibility is a part of business ethics.

11 hours ago, dadmonson said:

Who are stakeholders and why are they important to a company?

bluecherry made a great point. It's not a very useful concept, but the Wikipedia article here does a fine job of listing who they may be identified as by conventional standards: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stakeholder_(corporate)> Your course material may also have specific references of what your class wants your to recognize as "stakeholders". Simply comply with their definition of the term, and describe their importance to companies.

 

Hope this helped.

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Oh - another brief mention of things like "environmental responsibility". Issues like this can very often be spun to a perspective of egoism. Why would it benefit a company, in the long run, to destroy their local environment? Consumer bases suffer, potentially hurting sales. Shareholders and business managers are humans too and can suffer from air pollution. The public will be outraged if you were to dump toxic waste in the nearby lake. Other actions by a company can also be deemed as blatant violations of individual rights, like destroying private property.

Mr. Burns from the Simpsons doesn't exist, and for good reason.

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THANK YOU GUYS! Definitely have given me some ideas and have pointed me in the right direction!

 

I don't think my professor will grade me down for expressing my views...  I spoke up one time in class before when I disagreed with her and she just acted like I didn't say anything.

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In that case, just be sure to distinguish between "business ethics" and "social responsibility" (which is an anticoncept).

 

You are not your brother's keeper. You have no responsibility whatsoever towards anyone else, except as an extension of your responsibility for your own prosperity (and then only to the degree that they actually impact it). The issue has nothing to do with the number of people involved or their line of work; from the bums in the gutter to the ivory-tower professors to the unskilled laborers to the prime movers of the world, nobody is a shmoo.

That's the essential.

 

That being said, "business ethics" can be incredibly good and useful if it's done right, and Rand wrote tons of stuff about it (although she didn't distinguish between "business ethics" and "ethics for living human beings").

The Money-Making Personality is one of my personal favorites. I also believe Yaron Brook has written a book specifically about the application of Egoism to business (although I haven't read it, yet).

 

At one point in the lecture I linked to, she mentions some CEO who made a public statement that the only objective of his company was to maximize profits. That part always gets to me. I would've followed that man to the gates of Hell, for a chance to work for him.

 

Kick some ass. :thumbsup:

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I think I'd phrase it that a person's only moral purpose is to fulfill their own happiness, and say that there are "no unchosen obligations". You could promise to do something or sign a contract and then have a responsibility towards someone else.

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3 hours ago, Not Lawliet said:

You could promise to do something or sign a contract and then have a responsibility towards someone else.

If you value their trust. I would argue that there are cases where it's moral to lie through your teeth.

 

Last year, for example, Volkswagen got caught cheating on EPA tests. They rigged their emission control systems to detect the testing equipment, activate themselves during the measurements and then deactivate themselves on the road. There was this whole uproar over it; everybody screamed that they were liars and frauds and scumbags and that we needed to make them pay.

 

Volkswagen's response basically amounted to a press release in which they said they were so sorry and it would never happen again (i.e. "we're sorry we got caught"). Which is awesome (and hilarious) - because that's exactly the kind of situation where you should mass-produce whatever promises you please (because: the EPA).

 

I would argue that even in cases where you do have a responsibility towards someone else (like contractual obligations), if it's valid then it's ultimately derived from your own self-interest.

 

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
Clarification of the example

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I think most promises constitute a verbal contract, even if not dependable in court, and so breaking them is a violation of rights. Of course there's circumstances that justify breaking contracts, even if others involved don't approve, but they're exceptions.

Of course your ultimate or fundamental responsibility is to yourself, but real responsibilities exist among individuals who choose them. You have a responsibility to eat healthy, but there's times where it's fine to deviate because one's fundamental "responsibility" is to one's happiness.

2 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

If you value their trust.

I actually don't think that is the most important reason to be honest (in the Objectivist meaning). It is certainly important to maintain one's trust with the people you deal with, but I think the most important or the primary reason that honesty is a virtue is to live by reality. Being dishonest means committing to a false reality you convince others of believing, and compromises your ability to be rational and reality-oriented.

Being honest to others, in principle, is about maintaining a society operating on reality; you're not committed to falsehoods, and the people around you are not hindered by misinformation. I think that is why people have a right not to be defrauded, and is why courts have proper authority over fraud situations.

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2 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

The immediate question that comes to mind is "Is VW right in this regard?"

I think VW potentially can be right in rebelling against regulations, if that rebellion isn't reckless and worth the risk. But VW deceived their consumers, and I think that's wrong.

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There is no reason you cannot respond to these questions even if you don't agree with their presuppositions. For example, in answer to the question of why corporate social responsibility is important, I see no reason why you cannot simply discuss the possible definitions of the term "social responsibility" and the opinions of various thinkers on the subject or the implications of possible concepts of "corporate social responsibility". More succinctly, there is absolutely no reason why you can't discuss the logical consequences of premises you personally believe to be false.

 

In your position, I would definitely not do as some posters suggested and base my thesis on the denial of corporate social responsibility. Whether you deny it through ethical nihilism or objectivism, regardless of how well-informed and thought-through your position is, your professor will no doubt see it as mere smart-assery, and a juvenile attempt to get out of really doing the assignment.

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Observe the questions are not meant to elicit your personal opinion even though they seem to be worded as such, they are meant to determine how well you understand what was taught.  You could answer the questions objectively, giving the "right" answers at the same time as not stating your opinion. 

I can think of two ways of doing this (there are likely other ways as well):

1.  State all of the premises (explicit or implicit and whether you believe them or not) as hypotheticals, as part of your answer.  IF premise a, premise b, premise c, then X,Y,Z 

e.g.  Answer:  "If one defines social responsibility as the duty to ensure that the welfare of the general public is taken into account whenever a corporation embarks upon making a decision which potentially has consequences... blah blah blah.... and if the outcomes visited upon a local economy are the barometer of what we here define as important... blah blah blah THEN corporate social responsibility is important because... blah blah blah."

2.  IF the professor has relied upon some authority, scholarship, or identifiable theory to inform the premises or define the terms, state them explicitly in the answer:

e.g.  Answer:  "Dr. Shoenhippel defines social responsibility as X.... blah blah blah, the Scanlan Foundation for Change measure economic importance and social importance according to I, J.   Based on the scholarship so noted, corporate responsibility as defined is important because.... blah blah blah.

Combining 1 and 2 and not offering your personal analysis will mean you can both answer the questions truthfully and correctly.

 

[Edit:  I just read SpookyKitty's response... this is somewhat redundant now.]

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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On 4/8/2016 at 0:23 AM, dream_weaver said:

The immediate question that comes to mind is "Is VW right in this regard?"

 

Without delving into the underlying issues (yet) I'll just state that I emphatically believe so.

Why do we kill wild animals, in the jungle? Because no other method is open to us. What do we do when those animals have a legal monopoly on the use of violence?

 

On 4/8/2016 at 2:46 AM, Not Lawliet said:

... VW deceived their consumers, and I think that's wrong.

 

... About the emissions of their vehicles?

Yeah; if I sold you arsenic by calling it a cure for the common cold, that would be wrong. But if you put a gun to my head and demanded that I live without breathing Oxygen and I said "OK" - ? There is a point where the blame no longer belongs to the deciever, but to the decieved.

 

Ayn Rand said that morality breaks down in situations where Life is impossible. Which situation better fits that description: Some natural disaster, which can only be conquered with our minds (and which the most rabid irrationalist wouldn't dare to face without us), or a lie that our friends and neighbors would gladly die to defend (and to which any life is considered sacrificial fodder)?

I do not mean that lying is practical or beneficial, in the long run. I emphatically mean that it is both practical and moral when it is necessary, in order to Flourish, and that the EPA's presence constitutes just such a scenario. 

For a modern businessman, to deal honestly with the EPA means: to sacrifice any plan or undertaking, at a moment's notice, for the sake of any fish, insect or intestinal parasite. This means: to give up one's very capacity to live and act long-range. This means: to give up "business" altogether (regardless of what happens to their income, afterwards). There are actual people in America, today, demanding that the EPA prohibit man's colonization of Mars - for the sake of undiscovered, hypothetical microbes. What would you suggest we do, if they were to sieze the machinery of the government? What about the voluntary extinction movement?

 

If I was the CEO of a multinational automotive manufacturer, I would've done exactly the same thing - proudly.

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On 4/12/2016 at 9:52 AM, StrictlyLogical said:

Observe the questions are not meant to elicit your personal opinion even though they seem to be worded as such, they are meant to determine how well you understand what was taught.

 

I've used up all of my "likes" for today, but I hadn't observed that.

Both penetrating and elegant. :thumbsup:

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On 4/8/2016 at 1:23 AM, dream_weaver said:

The immediate question that comes to mind is "Is VW right in this regard?"

 

8 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

Without delving into the underlying issues (yet) I'll just state that I emphatically believe so.

Why do we kill wild animals, in the jungle? Because no other method is open to us. What do we do when those animals have a legal monopoly on the use of violence?

I ask if VW is right, or more accurately, in the right because I wonder if the government should be meddling economically via an environmental backdoor. 

If I read into the wild animal analogy, do I apply your analogy to VW, a business enterprise that relies the on the rational judgement of its customers for its continued existence, as a legal monopoly on the use of [force]? I find it an improper parallel.

 

Edited by dream_weaver

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2 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

If I read into the wild animal analogy, do I apply your analogy to VW, a business enterprise that relies the on the rational judgement of its customers for its continued existence, as a legal monopoly on the use of [force]? I find it an improper parallel.

I was not thinking of VW, but of the EPA (although that would, indeed, have been a bad analogy).

 

2 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

I ask if VW is right, or more accurately, in the right because I wonder if the government should be meddling economically via an environmental backdoor. 

No, they shouldn't, but that's only part of it.

 

If I approached an architect and demanded that they design a skyscraper without the use of measurements or mathematics, in order to do business with me, it would be morally right for them to tell me to get lost. I would be demanding the impossible and, regardless of its immediate impact on their profits, nothing good could come of their attempting to comply. If I approached an architect with the same demand, with a gun as my final argument, they still could not benefit from any sort of compliance. Regardless of the outcome, they would lose; the best they could do would be to minimize the extent of the damage.

Exactly how they ought to minimize it is a trickier issue, which involves a lot of subjective evaluations and preferences, but making the noises "OK" and then doing nothing of the sort is one valid option (which is, in my opinion, infinitely preferable to any other).

 

This is exactly what VW was doing by cheating their emissions tests (and I applaud them for it).

 

In the words of the Pretty Reckless:

"Now you're on your knees with your head hung low

The big man tells you where to go

Tell 'em it's good; tell 'em okay

But don't do a goddamn thing they say"

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Unless VW execs are willing to go to prison for their beliefs, they're nothing more than common criminals and moral cowards in my books.

It's not like these guys cheated on those tests to stick it to the EPA. They were hoping they wouldn't get caught and didn't care about who their pollution harmed so long as they made a quick buck. As soon as they were called on their bs, they ran away with their tails between their legs.

You have to remember that just because somebody runs a business doesn't make them a Randian Hero. There's nothing about VW that indicates that they have any principles at all. "Volkswagen" means "people's car" in German, and if I remember correctly they either were started by or accepted huge amounts of support by the Nazis.

Unless you are willing to die for your beliefs, you have no business breaking the law.

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1 hour ago, SpookyKitty said:

Unless VW execs are willing to go to prison for their beliefs, they're nothing more than common criminals and moral cowards in my books.

It's not like these guys cheated on those tests to stick it to the EPA. They were hoping they wouldn't get caught and didn't care about who their pollution harmed so long as they made a quick buck. As soon as they were called on their bs, they ran away with their tails between their legs.

You have to remember that just because somebody runs a business doesn't make them a Randian Hero. There's nothing about VW that indicates that they have any principles at all. "Volkswagen" means "people's car" in German, and if I remember correctly they either were started by or accepted huge amounts of support by the Nazis.

Unless you are willing to die for your beliefs, you have no business breaking the law.

I counted at least half a dozen logical fallacies in your post.

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5 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

It's not like these guys cheated on those tests to stick it to the EPA. They were hoping they wouldn't get caught and didn't care about who their pollution harmed so long as they made a quick buck.

... Should they have been motivated by the desire to "stick it to the EPA", rather than the profit motive? While there are situations where vindictive wrath is understandable (and even justified), as a motivating force it can rarely ever lead to good stuff.

This isn't to say that it's never the practical response (Iran and North Korea both come to mind) but certainly not when it comes to business.

 

As for the harm of their pollution, it would be different if the dangers of CO2 emissions were clearly demonstrable (and if you believe that they are then I'll gladly entertain any arguments you'd like to make). However, in the absence of any rational reason to prohibit pollution, engaging in it for the purpose of "making a quick buck" is good.

 

5 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

You have to remember that just because somebody runs a business doesn't make them a Randian Hero. 

I'm very sorry if I seemed to be indicating that.

 

5 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

"Volkswagen" means "people's car" in German, and if I remember correctly they either were started by or accepted huge amounts of support by the Nazis.

Yes, and the founding fathers of America embraced slavery and, if one looks back far enough, every single one of us is probably the result of somebody's rape (at some point in history).

 

If the current CEO is a Nazi then that argument holds water.

 

5 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

Unless you are willing to die for your beliefs, you have no business breaking the law.

I'm sorry - what?

 

I'll postpone any sort of response to that, for now, if you'd like to clarify and/or elaborate.

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The profit motive is certainly not good if your means of making it are force/fraud. VW comitted fraud, at the very least, by cheating the EPA tests, and yes, pollution is an initiation of force because it has serious adverse health effects.

Quote

I'm sorry - what? I'm sorry - what?

It would have been one thing if VW said, "Screw the EPA regulations, our cars will operate as designed, increased pollutant emissions and all, and our customers will decide for themselves whether or not to purchase the cars we build. If the government has a problem with that, then let them do what they will, we have done nothing wrong. It is the law itself which is unjust." If they had done that, they would have my respect. But sadly, this is not what happened.

Instead they said, "Hey we can save money if we can cheat the pollution tests. What our customers don't know won't hurt them. Everything will be fine as long as we get away with our scheme, but even if we do get caught we'll just 'apologize' and pay the fines."

The latter is an attempt to evade reality and to "make" a profit without being productive.

8 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

Why do we kill wild animals, in the jungle? Because no other method is open to us. What do we do when those animals have a legal monopoly on the use of violence?

I strongly object to this type of reasoning.

The fact that the government is initiating force does not invalidate morality. You are not justified in arbitrarily murdering the mailman just because he works for the same animals that hold a gun to your head and demand taxes. If you believe that you are, then you are essentially saying that morality is impossible unless the government is morally perfect.

In cases where someone is threatening or initiating force, you are justified only in a) complying with their demands and b ) acting for the express and sole purpose of restoring justice and maintaining justice.

In the example above you are only justified in murdering the mailmain if doing so would somehow end the injustice of taxation or some other aspect of goverment injustice. Although, usually much more peaceful and effective methods are available for restoring justice than outright revolution.

Thus, with regard to the case of VW, they should either adopt a principled anti-regulation stance, or they should shut up and obey the law.

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1 hour ago, SpookyKitty said:

If they had done that, they would have my respect.

... Your respect, as well as a lovely cardboard penthouse.

 

1 hour ago, SpookyKitty said:

The fact that the government is initiating force does not invalidate morality.

Not as such, no. It does invalidate our usual standards, when it comes to actually dealing with the government.

 

1 hour ago, SpookyKitty said:

Instead they said, "Hey we can save money if we can cheat the pollution tests. What our customers don't know won't hurt them. Everything will be fine as long as we get away with our scheme, but even if we do get caught we'll just 'apologize' and pay the fines."

 

The purpose of deactivating their emission control systems during actual driving was to make their cars more efficient, more durable and cheaper. It improved them by every standard that actually applies to their customers.

 

1 hour ago, SpookyKitty said:

Thus, with regard to the case of VW, they should either adopt a principled anti-regulation stance, or they should shut up and obey the law.

 

Do you feel that way about drugs, health insurance, motor insurance, the minimum wage, the proper use of seatbelts and every other idiotic law that pertains to your personal life (and mine), or just the ones that apply to businessmen?

 

That's not rhetorical. This is an opinion I haven't actually seen, before.

 

P.S.

 

Personally, I don't give a damn about any one of those laws. I say, if people can get away with breaking them then good for them; they should take pride in any small victory they gain, over this system.

 

I can only think of a few alternatives, any one of which would be fascinating.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
PostScript

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Quote

Personally, I don't give a damn about any one of those laws. I say, if people can get away with breaking them then good for them; they should take pride in any small victory they gain, over this system.Personally, I don't give a damn about any one of those laws. I say, if people can get away with breaking them then good for them; they should take pride in any small victory they gain, over this system.

This is a very dangerous path to go down because then you are confronting Attila on his own turf, and you'd best believe that he has the homefield advantage.

But what you have to understand about Attila is that he is not like a mere moocher who wants to live at the expense of others. He doesn't care about money, or happiness, or anythig you can actually give him, and least of all his own life. He has no values, only means. He cares about taking, and not what he has taken. The loot he acquires is only a means for acquiring more loot. He seeks power for the sake of power.

His edicts for you are contradictory on purpose. He wants you to both obey and to disobey.

Why? Because through obedience he gets mindless slaves and pawns. And through disobedience he gets mindless opponents, just like himself.

The purpose of his laws is to make full compliance with them impossible so that people will inevitably resort to disobedience. And when they do, it all boils down to a brutal contest of strength which he always wins.

In his mind, weakness is the greatest of all sins. The weaker you are, the less resistance you offer him, the greater his zeal to crush you.

If you're one of the unlucky ones, you will survive and end up in his prison system which is designed to break down your self-worth, your identity, and above all, your mind, to turn you into a mini-Attila which he knows how to manipulate.

What he fears above all is principled resistance. Men who can't lose at his game because they refuse to play it.

Ever watch Game of Thrones? The character, Ramsay Snow, is the very essence of this archetype.

At one point in the story, he breaks a man down so far, that the man now calls himself "Reek", believes that Ramsay has the supernatural power to see where he is and hear what he says (soud familiar), and at one point

pretends to be himself so he can help Ramsay massacre his own people.

 

 

Edited by SpookyKitty

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7 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

The profit motive is certainly not good if your means of making it are force/fraud. VW comitted fraud, at the very least, by cheating the EPA tests, and yes, pollution is an initiation of force because it has serious adverse health effects.

 

I sort of get it here.  If they advertise their cars as EPA compliant and they are not, the customer is, in that particular case, defrauded.  You have to be very careful that you are not generalizing about pollution however.  Sometimes a polluter is initiating force but not always.  There are levels of pollution that do little to no damage but the EPA will hold you to almost impossible standards.  

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