ManagementSpeak: Taking ownership of issues that arise is one of our core principles.

Translation: Excrement rolls downhill. It will stick to you.

Correspondent L.T., knowing where “downhill” ends, avoids the bottom of the barrel as much as professionally possible.

Talking about business ethics is like drinking bourbon. It starts out as a conversational lubricant and can lead to interesting exchanges of ideas. But if you keep going, mostly you’ll end up just shooting your mouth off, without saying anything at all interesting and possibly getting into a pointless fight.

So I’m returning to the subject with some trepidation. Nonetheless, a point raised by a number of correspondents in response to “Development team ethics, Part I — The Abyss,” deserves attention. So pour another shot and settle back.

The article pointed out that publicly held corporations aren’t just human beings only bigger. In particular, corporations, unlike human beings, aren’t presumptively moral … they are, instead, presumptively amoral. It’s a point required by the shareholder-value theory of the corporation, which insists that maximizing the return on shareholder investments is the measure of “good” for the enterprise.

“So how,” my correspondents asked, “do you explain corporate philanthropy?”