Breaking the Law Under Competitive Pressure
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When a business has competitors that break a burdensome law, is it morally required to obey this law, or may it break the law to avoid an unfair competitive disadvantage? Though this ethical question is pervasive in the business world, many non-skeptical theories of the obligation to obey the law cannot give it a clear answer. A broadly Kantian account, by contrast, can explain why businesspeople ought to obey laws of a certain type even under competitive pressure, namely laws that play a direct role in defining rights to use physical or financial resources free from substantial interference. Businesspeople must obey these laws even at the cost of allowing their businesses to fail and even when the acts proscribed are mala prohibita. This argument for obeying the law in competitive contexts has limited scope. Considerations of fairness or self-preservation may justify violating laws of other types under competitive pressure.
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