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Herzog, Lisa. Reclaiming the System: Moral Responsibility, Divided Labour, and the Role of Organizations in Society
2018, Oxford University Press
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Added by: Deryn Mair Thomas
Publisher’s Note: The world of wage labour seems to have become a soulless machine, an engine of social and environmental destruction. Employees seem to be nothing but ‘cogs’ in this system—but is this true? Located at the intersection of political theory, moral philosophy, and business ethics, this book questions the picture of the world of work as a ‘system’. Hierarchical organizations, both in the public and in the private sphere, have specific features of their own. This does not mean, however, that they cannot leave room for moral responsibility, and maybe even human flourishing. Drawing on detailed empirical case studies, Lisa Herzog analyses the nature of organizations from a normative perspective: their rule-bound character, the ways in which they deal with divided knowledge, and organizational cultures and their relation to morality. She asks how individual agency and organizational structures would have to mesh to avoid common moral pitfalls. She develops the notion of ‘transformational agency’, which refers to a critical, creative way of engaging with one’s organizational role while remaining committed to basic moral norms. The last part zooms out to the political and institutional changes that would be required to re-embed organizations into a just society. Whether we submit to ‘the system’ or try to reclaim it, Herzog argues, is a question of eminent political importance in our globalized world.

Comment: This text, an introduction to a longer work on organisational ethics, proposes and discusses novel arguments about the nature of organisations, and organisational spaces, as moral entities. By challenging long held common sense assumptions that corporate organisations are 'amoral' or outside the scope of human morality, Herzog offers an alternate view. It is therefore useful as a way to examine and discuss alternate visions of organisational structure and the role that human beings play as moral agents within those structures.

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Holroyd, Jules. Responsibility for Implicit Bias
2012, Journal of Social Philosophy 43(3): 274-306.
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Added by: Emily Paul
Introduction: Philosophers who have written about implicit bias have claimed or implied that individuals are not responsible, and therefore not blameworthy, for their implicit biases, and that this is a function of the nature of implicit bias as implicit: below the radar of conscious reflection, out of the control of the deliberating agent, and not rationally revisable in the way many of our reflective beliefs are. I argue that close attention to the findings of empirical psychology, and to the conditions for blameworthiness, does not support these claims. I suggest that the arguments for the claim that individuals are not liable for blame are invalid, and that there is some reason to suppose that individuals are, at least sometimes, liable to blame for the extent to which they are influenced in behaviour and judgment by implicit biases. I also argue against the claim that it is counter-productive to see bias as something for which individuals are blameworthy; rather, understanding implicit bias as something for which we are liable to blame could be constructive.

Comment: A great paper for a feminist philosophy, critical race theory, moral philosophy, applied ethics course or similar. Holroyd lays out 4 different arguments that we might NOT be blameworthy for harbouring implicit biases in premise-conclusion form, before arguing that they are invalid. Could e.g. break students into groups and ask each group to discuss a different argument and Holroyd's treatment of it.

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Holroyd, Jules, Robin Scaife, Tom Stafford. What is Implicit Bias?
2017, Philosophy Compass 12(10).
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Added by: Emily Paul
Abstract: Research programs in empirical psychology over the past few decades have led scholars to posit implicit biases. This is due to the development of innovative behavioural measures that have revealed aspects of our cognitions which may not be identified on self?report measures requiring individuals to reflect on and report their attitudes and beliefs. But what does it mean to characterise such biases as implicit? Can we satisfactorily articulate the grounds for identifying them as bias? And crucially, what sorts of cognitions are in fact being measured; what mental states or processes underpin such behavioural responses? In this paper, we outline some of the philosophical and empirical issues engaged when attempting to address these three questions. Our aim is to provide a constructive taxonomy of the issues, and how they interrelate. As we will see, any view about what implicit bias is may depend on a range of prior theoretical choices.

Comment: Perfect for the start of a unit/course on implicit bias, as this paper provides a clear overview of the phenomenon of implicit bias, the evidence for it, and ways to interpret it.

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