The social responsibility of firms: An ethical leap across a legal void?, Sophie Swaton

Justin Leroux

Table of Contents


Despite its present-day success story in the field of management, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is not a new concept, but one that emerged in the 1950s. One may therefore wonder about such a resurgence for a concept whose interpretations are numerous and sometimes quite opposed to one another. Our hypothesis is that CSR, understood on a very topical functional level, results from a deficiency of substantive law. This gap could also explain the evolution of the historical and conceptual approach of CSR, perceived on a second level: the need to seek a foundation in ethics first, and then in political philosophy. However, such a search for foundations does not necessarily succeed. Nevertheless, far from limiting ourselves to a critical standpoint, we try to propose here a clarification of CSR and all the levels involved, in particular the ethical standpoint, which could be more deeply analyzed.

JEL classification: B20, B52, M14.


  • responsibility
  • ethics
  • shareholders
  • contracts
  • norms
  • deliberation

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