Foundations of Business Ethics – Considerations on the Methodology of Business Ethics and the Roles of Philosophy and Economics Within
20 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2011 Last revised: 24 Nov 2011
Date Written: November 23, 2011
The paper discusses the subject matter and approach of business ethics, and reflects on the roles of philosophy and economics in this field. I argue that, although established economics and ethics seem to be obvious reference points for business ethics, the methods of business ethics cannot just be based on both. Neither a simple reference to the concepts of modern economics nor a simple application of established ethical theory is sufficient for the analysis of ethical issues of modern business and the modern global economy. Established economics offers a rather specific understanding of the economy and, moreover, entails an implicit inherent ethics, neither of which is appropriate to the complex ethical challenges of current business. Traditional philosophical ethics, on the other hand, is not equipped to fully recognize and analyze the specific ethical dimension and the ethical challenges of the modern economy. Business ethics must strive for an enhanced understanding of the economy, identify the specific ethical challenges of modern business, and develop a distinctive ethical approach if it is to adequately analyze the ethical dimension of modern business and to provide a fruitful normative framework for the economy of the future. Philosophy is challenged by the ethical dimension of modern business to contribute to the development of such an encompassing business ethics within an inter- and transdisciplinary discourse with economics, other social sciences, and practitioners.
Keywords: business ethics, methodology, philosophy, economy, philosophy of economics
JEL Classification: A11, A12, A13, B40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation