Sunday, September 5, 2010

To ECOA 2010 speakers


Subj: To ECOA 2010 conference speakers

Dear _______,

I continue to endeavor to propagate argumentation that class action and other civil lawsuits undermine business ethics. (See
Does the Civil Liability System Undermine Business Ethics? )

In connection with this year's ECOA conference, I identified Mr. Greg Andres of the Justice Department Criminal Division as a speaker whose topic and background seemed auspicious for seeking to obtain his perspective on my argumentation. I have sent Mr. Andres this

In connection with last year's Chicago conference I wrote numerous speakers emails trying to connect my contentions with their respective presentations. You may find these emails
here .

None of last year's speakers replied to me, and I wish to ask this year's speakers this question: Why the lack of interest by business ethicists in my argumentation about the system of civil law liability?

One explanation could be that the compensatory purpose of civil law liability is paramount, a deterrence objective is secondary, and that makes the civil law liability system a nut that is simply too big for business ethicists to try to crack.

A "too big a nut to crack" reaction would be unfortunate, given the large amount of corporate resources that are consumed in the civil law liability arena, a lot of which may be wasted or counterproductive to ethical objectives.

If my argumentation is correct about the undermining of business ethics, it would seem that ethicists would want to call this to the attention of management, the judiciary, and lawmakers, to the effect of "we ethicists recognize the primacy of the compensatory purpose of the civil law liability system, but you should recognize that the system undermines ethics and does not achieve a deterrent effect. In your management, judicial and lawmaker roles, you should be clear about that, and in your policies, actions, and decisions, you should limit your concern and objective to solely that of accomplishing appropriate compensation for loss. If you limit yourself that way, it could alter your actions and decisions in a way that results in a lesser detrimental impact on business ethics."

To the extent my argumentation is debatable, it would seem that business ethicists would want to debate the same, try to reach conclusions, and decide whether or not to follow the suggestion in the preceding paragraph.

It further needs to be acknowledged that plaintiffs' lawyers are a powerful adversary with whom business ethicists may not want to tangle, and further ethicists may not desire to get in the way of management that has its own ideas and agenda about plaintiffs' lawyers or in the way of the US Chamber of Commerce's
Institute for Legal Reform

If you think there are other reasons for the lack of interest, I would be very interested in hearing of them.

I hope the ECOA has a terrific conference in Anaheim.

Robert Shattuck

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