What are the arguments for and against the concept of corporate social responsibility?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The major argument for this is that corporations are part of society and a part which has a great deal of power.  A large corporation has much more of an ability to affect our society for good or ill than any individual could.  Therefore, they ought to act in ways that will benefit the society of which they are a part.

The major argument against is that corporations must be focused on the pursuit of profit.  A corporation that spends money or increases its costs in order to be responsible is tying its hands behind its back.  It will end up getting out-competed by other firms and it will "die."  It is not fair to ask companies to voluntarily do things to improve our society.  Instead, if we want firms to act responsibly, we must make laws to compel them all to do so.  This would allow society to benefit without forcing individual firms to decide whether/how much to be socially responsible.

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