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A Critique of Milton Friedman's Essay 'The Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits'

Thomas Mulligan
Journal of Business Ethics
Vol. 5, No. 4 (Aug., 1986), pp. 265-269
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25071587
Page Count: 5
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A Critique of Milton Friedman's Essay 'The Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits'
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Abstract

The main arguments of Milton Friedman's famous and influential essay are unsuccessful: He fails to prove that the exercise of social responsibility in business is by nature an unfair and socialist practice. Much of Friedman's case is based on a questionable paradigm; a key premise is false; and logical cogency is sometimes missing. The author proposes a different paradigm for socially responsible action in business and argues that a commitment to social responsibility can be an integral element in strategic and operational business management without producing any of the objectionable results claimed by Friedman.

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