Dispute Resolution as an Ethical Phantasm

Alternative Justice Under the Spell of Law

Abstract

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is a collective noun for all kinds of alternative methods to formal dispute resolution. Business ethics attempts to theorize the different forms of normative coordination of corporate acts that remain within the lifeworld and outside the formal sphere of the legal system. In this context, business ethics could offer a positive approach to ADR, as ADR would be an effective, practical form of casuistry ethics. In this manner, concrete conflicts of interest and disagreements between economic actors could be resolved based on moral intentions and moral validity claims. This approach of ADR through business ethics is confirmed by many articles in business ethical journals. In two important aspects, namely justice and autonomy, law is contrary to ethics. ADR lacks exactly these ethical characteristics; thus the idea that ADR belongs to the discourse of business ethics is misleading. This article will argue that ADR is not in the realm of the ethical, but in the realm of the legal. This critical analysis of ADR will show a deeper dimension in the relationship between business ethics and law, namely the systematic colonization of ethical methods by law.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Therefore, the emphasis of constructional thinking is not on ontology, but on epistemology; in other words significance is given to the process and the fall of things, not to their quidditas, their ‘whatness’.

  2. 2.

    This Nietzschean perspective on abstraction from ‘critical legal studies’ scholars (so-called ‘crits’) can be traced back to Nietzsche’s Götzen-Dämmerung (1963a, p. 946) in which he writes: “I mistrust all systematizers and try to avoid them. The will to systemize is a lack of integrity.”

  3. 3.

    The ‘legal field’ as a ‘legal empire’: cf. Ronald Dworkin’s Law’s Empire (1986). It will not surprise anyone that the concept of ‘empire’ in, for example, political science, history, sociology, and post-colonial studies includes colonialism and imperialism. In the empire of law, ethics is no longer a set of subjective and relative values, nor is it a critical norm against which legal acts can be judged; in Law’s Empire, ethics has become a security and a guarantee for the eternity of law (Goodrich, Douzinas, and Hachamovitch 2005, p. 22).

  4. 4.

    Compare this with Nietzsche’s fear that mankind cannot be liberated from grammatica as long as mankind believes in God, as he mentions it in his Götzen-Dämmerung (1963a, p. 960), or the possibility in Heidegger’s Brief über den Humanismus (1947, p. 54) to liberate language from its grammatica.

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Acknowledgments

I would like to thank Ronald Jeurissen, Tineke Lambooy, and Johanna Rietveld for their useful conversations and comments which helped me in the early drafting of this paper.

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Jansen, B. Dispute Resolution as an Ethical Phantasm. Philosophy of Management (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40926-020-00156-8

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Keywords

  • Alternative dispute resolution
  • Dispute resolution
  • Alternative justice
  • Formalism
  • Critical legal studies
  • Colonization of ethics
  • Self-regulation