Moral agents have moral choice. This chapter argues that moral choice denies historical inevitability when moral choice is informed by both moral imagination and historical imagination. I explore this by way of one specific historical example which should be used, as the philosopher Bernard Mayo argued, as a moral exemplar. In pursuing my arguments I utilise work by Sir Isaiah Berlin, amongst others. I do though take issue with Berlin, whom I argue has confused not the nature but the role of historical imagination, claiming dominance for it where it cannot dominate. I conclude with historical inevitability being refuted by moral choice, informed by both moral imagination and historical imagination.I argue that the refutation of historical inevitability has implications for Australian businesses in their current dealings with the People’s Republic of China. Australia escaped the Global Financial Crisis because of Chinese purchases of Australian commodities. But Australian business in trading with China is trading with an unjust regime. Hoffman and McNulty (2009) argue that regarding a regime such as China we can ‘learn from our past’. Regarding the past I argue that Australian business executives dealing with China would benefit by studying the historical example of Churchill’s May 1940 decision and should use that as a moral exemplar. Earlier generations of Australian managers contemptuously dismissed Chinese workers. The current generation of Australian managers, who fail to morally acknowledge China’s workers and citizens, risks being equally contemptuous, dismissive and racist.
Schwartz, M. (2013), "Australian Business Leadership and the Promotion of Civil Society in China", Schwartz, M. and Harris, H. (Ed.) Ethics, Values and Civil Society (Research in Ethical Issues in Organizations, Vol. 9), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 31-55. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1529-2096(2013)0000009008Download as .RIS
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