A Caltech Library Service

Public Roles, Private Roles, and the Question of South African Investments

Jones, William Thomas (1981) Public Roles, Private Roles, and the Question of South African Investments. Social Science Working Paper, 410. California Institute of Technology , Pasadena, CA. (Unpublished)

[img] PDF (sswp 410 - Nov. 1981) - Submitted Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


Should the trustees of educational institutions sell their investments in companies doing business in South Africa? Discussions of this question have tended to generate more heat than light, partly because role expectations for trustees are not well defined but also because the differences between public and private roles are not well understood. In both of these respects, the question of South African investments is typical of many of the moral problems that arise in periods of rapid social change. An analysis of some of the concepts underlying this disagreement should therefore have a wider relevance. Accordingly, in the first three sections of this paper the kinds of situations which are likely to be morally problematic are redefined in terms of conflicts over role expectations, especially conflicts between expectations for private and for public roles. In the last section of the paper the distinctions introduced in the first three sections are applied to the question of South African investments. Though it is not to be expected that this analysis will dissolve the disagreement over divestment, disputants may at least learn what it is that they are disputing about.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Working Paper)
Additional Information:I am indebted to so many people -- at one time or another, I have discussed the investment issue with virtually everyone I know -- that I can list here only those who read and commented helpfully on the first draft of this paper -- Jay Atlas, Bruce Cain, Molly Mason Jones, Alan Schwartz and Charles Young. I am also grateful to the philosophy faculty at California State University Los Angeles for the stimulating and instructive discussion that followed my presentation of a part of this paper at a colloquium there.
Group:Social Science Working Papers
Series Name:Social Science Working Paper
Issue or Number:410
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20171003-165451333
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:82022
Deposited By: Jacquelyn Bussone
Deposited On:04 Oct 2017 18:48
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 18:50

Repository Staff Only: item control page