Corporate Responsibility and Ethical Consequence

Context: Juukan Gorge inquiry: Rio Tinto’s decision to blow up Indigenous rock shelters ‘inexcusable

Wittgenstein at one point identified meaning as a function of use. From a social constructivist perspective, this follows quite naturally as a corollary fact of epistemological (as much as linguistic) self-reference that all integrated information-processing, meaning-generating or socially-constructed contexts embody. It is also what makes it simple for any one moving frame of semantic reference to all but entirely invalidate any other from within what must be or become the half-mirrored tautological labyrinth that it inhabits.

The ethical question pivots upon two vectors: (1) was the Executive aware of the significance (as meaning) of the site to the indigenous people of the area?
(2) should they have been aware as an implicit responsibility of their position?

If (1), then ethical impropriety could be demonstrated. The second question arguably encapsulates and overrides the first but this, inevitably, is itself a function of the broader context (should we say “sum total”?) of reference frames, socially-constructed meanings and ethical mores of historical time and place.

The action actually taken is plausibly indefensible and highlights an enduring discontinuity between corporate responsibility and “enlightened self-interest”.

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