The Applied Ethics of Collegiality: Corporate Atonement and the Accountability for Compliance in the World War II

In Nenad Cekić (ed.), Virtues and Vices - Between Ethics and Epistemology. Belgrade: Faculty of Philosophy. pp. 245-262 (2023)
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Recently, I have proposed an extension of the framework of the ethics of collegiality (Berber & Subotić, forthcoming). By incorporating an anti-individual perspective and the notion of epistemic competence, this framework can reveal the epistemic virtue/vice relativism, which, in turn, charts the tension between being a good colleague and an efficient, loyal employee. In this paper, however, I want to sketch how the ethics of collegiality could be applied to practical domains, such as the historical accountability and atonement of corporations that participated in the anti-Semitic policies of the Third Reich and contributed to the Holocaust by using slave or forced labor. New studies suggest that corporations ought to engage in deeper historical reflection and ethical dialogue between Shoah survivors and top managers to address the issue of industrial compliance (Federman 2021), whereas most of the work on this topic traditionally focused on the issue of reparations litigation (Kelly 2016, Neuborne 2003). Through the notions of collective institutional epistemic vice and institutional ethos (Fricker 2021), the upshot is to assess whether it is feasible for corporations to be genuinely repentant regarding their role in the Holocaust thanks to the ethics of collegiality instead of merely offering compensation. I will argue that instead of emphasizing ethical leadership and the top-down approach to the (re-)implementation of values in corporate conduct, the spotlights should be on the bottom-up approach grounded in collegial solidarity among all employees.

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Vanja Subotić
University of Belgrade


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