Understanding CSR in the light of "Caritas in Veritate"

On issue: 

This paper aims to show that the Encyclical Letter "Caritas in Veritate" (CV) is very useful for preventing the essential nature of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) from being jeopardised due to a lack of awareness of its ethical bases.

A short "ideal history" of CSR tries to explain how future misunderstandings in the way CSR is conceived can be avoided and, therefore, three phases are outlined: the debate in the '60s and '70s; the sceptical thinking in the '80s; the "explosion" from the mid '90s onwards.

An analysis of the papers of  Walters 1977 (political views for and against CSR) and Frederick 1981 (the changing positions of the Committee for Economic Development in the '70s) are used in the paper to explain some of the causes of the decline in the '80s. These causes are identified as: a residual view of CSR in a company, a certain lack of  valuation of the economic cost-benefits of being responsible and a frequently insufficient  awareness of the deep ethical nature of CSR.

The third phase is mostly due to a partial overcoming of the above-mentioned first and second causes of the previous decline  but the damage due to undervaluing the role of ethics remains, risking either a relativistic or an instrumental view of CSR that would jeopardize its intrinsic humanistic purpose.

CV is, therefore, enlightening on the sound ethical bases of CSR, mostly by referring to the four principles of Catholic Social Teaching: human dignity, common good, solidarity and subsidiarity.