Fritz Allhoff, “Business Bluffing Reconsidered”, Journal of Business Ethics 45 (2003): 283-89. Reprinted in Marc Street (ed.), Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Management (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2004), pp 53-61. Direct reply in Thomas L. Carson, “The Morality of Bluffing: A Reply to Allhoff”, Journal of Business Ethics 56.4 (2005): 399-403. Direct reply in Jukka Varelius, “Allhoff on Business Bluffing”, Journal of Business Ethics 65.2 (2006): 163-171.
Abstract: On the one hand, bluffing in business seems to bear a strong resemblance to lying, and therefore might be thought to be prima facie impermissible. On the other, many people have the intuition that bluffing is an appropriate and morally permissible negotiating tactic. Given this tension, what is the moral standing of bluffing in business? In this paper, I will consider influential accounts of both Albert Carr and Thomas Carson, and I will present my criticisms thereof. Drawing off of these accounts, I will then develop my own argument as to why bluffing in business is morally permissible, which will be that bluffing is a practice that should be endorsed by all rational negotiators.