The paper 'Broken Hill Proprietary, Ltd - Financial Success " is a good example of a finance and accounting case study. Broad and comprehensive visions of environmental justice are possible, though always open to new political challenges and shifts in the arrangement of human societies and in environments themselves. The vision of environmental justice can be understood by taking the question of justice in a particular conflict of interest, that between the mining giant Broken Hill Proprietary, Ltd. (BHP) and the traditional landowners of an area on the Ok Tedi River in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Ethical decision-making is becoming a vital framework in an organization.
Firms are starting to understand that they have a wider responsibility to the communities within which they operate. It is said that there are two kinds of responsibilities in a firm – commercial and social. Commercial responsibilities involve managing a business successfully, generating a profit and satisfying shareholder expectations. Social responsibility, on the other hand, is being aware of the issues being presented in the community and the working environment. In light of all these arguments, it was very difficult for Paul Aderson, the Chief Executive Officer of BHP, to take decision when he was presented four options for the company by the study. There is a rich literature on environmental ethics and many texts start by posing questions that assume a societal, or even global, frame.
The big questions usually address the capability of the earth's resources to support its human population, the capability of the biosphere to absorb human wastes, the quickly increasing rate of extinction of non-human species, the exploitation of the environment of the poorer nations to preserve the lifestyle of the richer, the systematic discounting of the interests of generations which have not even come to this world, the enormous injury to the forests and seas, the industrial use of animals.
Against all these explanations are counter-posed abstract ethical formulations (Drengson 1980). Conclusions are then drawn about the type of society and morality we have to build up to prevent these things occurring: the society of ‘ our common future’ (Brundtland Report 1987). Wittgenstein revealed by means of various thought experiments that abstract philosophy often leads to unresolvable paradoxes and challenges.
In the same way, abstract considerations of justice quickly lead to contradictory alternatives. Michael Walzer (1983) and Jon Elster (1992) are among those who have ideas that different conceptions of justice are used in practice in different circumstances. Some writers have warned against the decontextualized use of meta-ethical ideology in dealing with environmental issues. This observation raises the issue of universalism versus moral relativism. If there is no single conception of justice, can there be a universal conception of justice? Situated ethics need not lead to ethical relativism, nor does it need the abandonment of universalism, properly understood. The point of departure here, then, is not the big picture of world’ s common future, but examples of real and public disagreements over the environment, examples such as the attempted discarding of the oil rig Brent Spar in the North Sea, nuclear tests by France in the Pacific, and the mining by BHP in PNG.
Needless to say, these are examples of environmental conflicts in the recent past — and sometimes disasters (Love Canal, Bhopal, Chernobyl, the drying of the Aral Sea) — that have been happening with growing regularity over the years.
Environmental justice or injustice lies at the heart of such differences, revealed as sociopolitical conflict over the distribution of environmental degradation and economic benefit between communities and nations. In contrasting all instances of environmental unfairness, there are arguments that it is best to focus first on real disputes and then attempt to demonstrate how the social-institutional conditions can be created for a range of conceptions of justice to enter into the good solution of these problems.
The broader effort against social forms that produce environmental injustice, for example, biospheric destruction and the maldistribution of environmental risk, should begin as engagements with specific ecological conflicts in which questions of environmental and ecological justice are intertwined.
Bhaskar, R. (1993) Dialectic: The Pulse of Freedom. London: Verso.
Brundtland Report (1987) Our Common Future. Oxford: Oxford University Press and World Commission on Environment and Development.
Davy, B. (1996) Fairness as compassion: towards a less unfair facility sitting policy. Risk: Health, Safety, and Environment 7:99-108.
Drengson, A. (1980) Shifting paradigms: from the technocratic to the person-planetary. Environmental Ethics 3:221-240.
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