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Descripción de editorial
Why is it that multinational drug companies hide or falsify unfavorable results? Why do automakers knowingly sell us unsafe cars? Why is big business allowed to poison our environment—and us? Why is our food so unhealthy, with obesity growing at such an alarming rate? Why are we working such long hours and enjoying life less? This timely and important book places the blame for much of what ails contemporary society squarely on one institution: the modern publicly traded corporation, which enjoys the legal status of an individual but does not seem bound by the same legal and moral responsibilities, or, in fact, by its nature that is brutally and implacably selfish.
While recognizing the positive contributions corporations have made over the past two centuries to science, technology, and medicine, Rowland examines the greed at the core of it all and pinpoints what went wrong and how we can free ourselves from the “Greed is good” syndrome.
Surveying misdeeds from the explosion-prone Ford Pinto to Philip-Morris's alleged obstruction of anti-smoking campaigns, this provocative treatise concludes that corporations, were they people, would be legally insane. Working from a lively, lucid reading of moral philosophers and economists from Hobbes to Adam Smith, Rowland (Galileo's Mistakes) describes the corporation as the embodiment of "psychological egoism," which holds that selfishness is the primary human motive and the marketplace defines acceptable standards of morality. Though corporations are technically and legally the equivalent of a person, they are also required to put profit above human moral precept; it is therefore a "moral cretin," a "sociopathic entity spawned by a paranoid hallucination" and even "an alien life-form." There are gaps, however, in Rowlands's arguments: by judging corporations in terms of human ethics standards, the author never demonstrates that institutional, procedural morality is systemically inferior to personal morality; and one could argue that the crimes of amoral corporations pale beside those committed by the "moralistic" state. Still, by making explicit the ideological foundations of corporations, Rowland shows just how strange, unnerving and dangerous they can be, and mounts a stimulating challenge to conventional political economy.