Intolerable Ideologies and the Obligation to Discriminate

Business and Professional Ethics Journal 40 (2):131-156 (2021)
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Abstract

In this paper, I argue that businesses bear a pro tanto, negative, moral obligation to refuse to engage in economic relationships with representatives of intolerable ideologies. For example, restaurants should refuse to serve those displaying Nazi symbols. The crux of this argument is the claim that normal economic activity is not a morally neutral activity but rather an exercise of political power. When a business refuses to engage with someone because of their membership in some group, e.g., Black Americans, this is a use of political power to signal that Black Americans are other. Conversely, when businesses engage with someone who is clearly representing an intolerable ideology, this is a use of political power that signals the acceptability of that ideology. Businesses should not do this.

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Tim Loughrist
University of North Alabama

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