Self-deception and moral blindness in the modern corporation

Knapp, John Charles (1999) Self-deception and moral blindness in the modern corporation. Doctoral thesis, University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

1978 Knapp, J. Self-deception (1999).pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License CC-BY-NC-ND Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (10MB) | Preview


This study investigates the hypothesis that self-deception can help to facilitate moral blindness in the context of the modem corporation. It contends that individuals are capable of suppressing knowledge or beliefs regarding truths that they prefer not to face, and that this self-deceptive process is aided by systemic and cultural factors that are characteristic of many large corporations An interdisciplinary conceptual analysis examines understandings of self- deception in philosophy, psychology and Christian theology, and shows that perspectives vary greatly by method of inquiry, field of study and other contexts of meaning. Self-deception is a well-established category in the fields of philosophy and psychology, where much research has been conducted to elucidate the admittedly difficult, and apparently paradoxical, concept. In theology, by contrast, the matter has been subjected to somewhat less explicit analysis; however, our study demonstrates that the ontological and anthropological assumptions of theology can render a distinctive and realistic understanding of what self-deception is and how it happens. It is proposed that four types of self-deception are found in the context of the modern corporation: The self-deception of tribalism, the self-deception of legalism, the self-deception of moral relativism and the self-deception of scientism. Each of these species is first identified and described theologically and then further developed using relevant literature in management, organizational theory and business ethics. To ground these conclusions, they are applied to an exhaustive case study of a multinational company which encountered accusations of wrongdoing in connection with product safety. This inquiry demonstrates that self-deception can and does happen, and that the corporate milieu provides conditions where it may flourish, particularly when individuals or groups are motivated to avoid or deny the moral consequences of their activities. This is a crucial finding that has not heretofore been fully comprehended by theorists in business ethics.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
Divisions: Theses and Dissertations > Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: Lesley Cresswell
Date Deposited: 06 May 2022 13:41
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2022 09:57

Administrator Actions (login required)

Edit Item - Repository Staff Only Edit Item - Repository Staff Only