Wicked Pleasures: Meditations on the Seven Deadly Sinsby Robert C. Solomon, William Gass (Contribution by), Don Herzog (Contribution by), William Miller (Contribution by), Jerry Neu (Contribution by)
The seven deadly sins have provided gossip, amusement, and the plots of morality plays for nearly fifteen hundred years. In Wicked Pleasures, well-known philosopher, business ethicist, and admitted sinner Robert C. Solomon brings together a varied group of contributors for a new look at an old catalogue of sins. Solomon introduces the sins as a group, noting their popularity and pervasiveness. From the formation of the canon by Pope Gregory the Great, the seven have survived the sermonizing of the Reformation, the Inquisition, the Enlightenment, the brief French reign of supreme reason, the apotheoses of capitalism, communism, secular humanism and postmodernism, the writings of numerous rabbis and evangelical moralists, two series in the New York Times, and several bad movies. Taking their cue from this remarkable history, the contributors, allowed one sin apiece, provide a non-sermonizing and relatively light-hearted romp through the domain of the deadly seven.
Unfortunately, Novak (Business as a Calling, 1996, etc.) appears to have fallen prey to the post-communist conservative's infatuation with manufacturing enemies. Explaining the business corporation and its role in modern society would be an important contribution. But, given the realities of wealth, power, and popular values in this country, unleashing Novak on corporate critics, as occurs here, is a waste of intellectual energy, like using nuclear weapons to fend off kids with pea-shooters. In the initial section of this slim volume, war is declared against those who would destroy "public enemy number one, the business corporation." An enlightening but somewhat misplaced discussion of patent and copyright laws follows. The issue of corporate governance is taken up in the final section, however, and here a distinction between the nature and purpose of corporate associations and those of governmental associations is genuinely useful. Novak argues that the benefits of corporations flow from pursuing specific goals through dynamic organizations, whereas the benefits of government flow from pursuing general goals through relatively static organizations. Imposing the norms appropriate for the latter will only prevent the former from providing all that society needs from them. Novak calls for a "philosophy of business" to clarify the purpose of corporations, but rather than proceeding to develop it he reverts to attacking leftists, who are characterized as expecting "employees to receive diamond rings on the day they are hired." Closing with a claim that the "one main purpose" of the corporation is "to create new wealth for the whole society" rather than for stockholders, he confuses his argument by expanding expectations of corporations in precisely the manner he finds objectionable.
This is not the serious work we have come to expect from Novak.
- Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
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- Product dimensions:
- 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)
Meet the Author
Robert C. Solomon is Quincy Lee Centennial Professor of Philosophy and Business and distinguished teaching professor at the University of Texas at Austin. Well known for his writings on the passions, the emotions, ethics, and excellence, Solomon is the author of numerous books, most recently A Passion for Wisdom (with Kathleen Higgins), Oxford 1997.
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