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Wealth, Commerce, and Philosophy

Foundational Thinkers and Business Ethics

With a Foreword by Deirdre Nansen McCloskey
The moral dimensions of how we conduct business affect all of our lives in ways big and small, from the prevention of environmental devastation to the policing of unfair trading practices, from arguments over minimum wage rates to those over how government contracts are handed out. Yet for as deep and complex a field as business ethics is, it has remained relatively isolated from the larger, global history of moral philosophy. This book aims to bridge that gap, reaching deep into the past and traveling the globe to reinvigorate and deepen the basis of business ethics. 
Spanning the history of western philosophy as well as looking toward classical Chinese thought and medieval Islamic philosophy, this volume provides business ethicists a unified source of clear, accurate, and compelling accounts of how the ideas of foundational thinkers—from Aristotle to Friedrich Hayek to Amartya Sen—relate to wealth, commerce, and markets. The essays illuminate perspectives that have often been ignored or forgotten, informing discussion in fresh and often unexpected ways.  In doing so, the authors not only throw into relief common misunderstandings and misappropriations often endemic to business ethics but also set forth rich moments of contention as well as novel ways of approaching complex ethical problems. Ultimately, this volume provides a bedrock of moral thought that will move business ethics beyond the ever-changing opinions of headline-driven debate. 

464 pages | 7 x 10 | © 2017

Economics and Business: Economics--General Theory and Principles, Economics--History

Philosophy: Ethics, General Philosophy, History and Classic Works


“This is a collection of important writing on business ethics. Unlike a great books approach, it relies on pieces by others explicating key thinkers in the field. ‘This volume seeks to reinvigorate and widen business ethics scholarship so that the discipline will be informed more fully and deeply by the perspectives of significant philosophers and thinkers.’ The moral issues associated with economic exchange, the ethical dimensions of markets and business, and the creation and uses of wealth are examined through the lenses of sages across a long history. It generally provides clear and compelling summaries of significant thought. The book suggests that a business ethicist might deploy arguments from an array of the thinkers in examining questions related to human resources, marketing, or incorporating concerns related to the natural environment in business. For example, Kant’s moral principle of treating others as ends in themselves might be deployed along with the virtues of Aristotle, such as honesty or generosity. Recommended.”


"Heath and Kaldis’s volume is a tremendous contribution to business ethics, with its contributors adding to both the breadth and depth of the philosophical foundations of the field."

Journal of the History of Economic Thought

Table of Contents

Foreword: “While Conforming to . . . Law and . . . Ethical Custom”: How to Do Humanomics in Business Ethics
Deirdre N. McCloskey

Eugene Heath and Byron Kaldis
1 Wealth and Commerce in Archaic Greece: Homer and Hesiod
Mark S. Peacock
2 Aristotle and Business: Friend or Foe?
Fred D. Miller, Jr.
3 Confucian Business Ethics: Possibilities and Challenges
David Elstein and Qing Tian
4 The Earthly City and the Ethics of Exchange: Spiritual, Social, and Material Economy in Augustine’s Theological Anthropology
Todd Breyfogle
5 Thomas Aquinas: The Economy at the Service of Justice and the Common Good
Martin Schlag
6 The Ethics of Commerce in Islam: Ibn Khaldun’s Muqaddimah Revisited
Munir Quddus and Salim Rashid
7 Hobbes’s Idea of Moral Conduct in a Society of Free Individuals
Timothy Fuller
8 John Locke’s Defense of Commercial Society: Individual Rights, Voluntary Cooperation, and Mutual Gain
Eric Mack
9 As Free for Acorns as for Honesty: Mandevillean Maxims for the Ethics of Commerce
Eugene Heath
10 “Commerce Cures Destructive Prejudices”: Montesquieu and the Spirit of Commercial Society
Henry C. Clark
11 Hume on Commerce, Society, and Ethics
Christopher J. Berry
12 The Fortune of Others: Adam Smith and the Beauty of Commerce
Douglas J. Den Uyl
13 Why Kant’s Insistence on Purity of the Will Does Not Preclude an Application of Kant’s Ethics to For-Profit Businesses
Norman Bowie
14 Tocqueville: The Corporation as an Ethical Association
Alan S. Kahan
15 J. S. Mill and Business Ethics
Nicholas Capaldi
16 Karl Marx on History, Capitalism, and . . . Business Ethics?
William H. Shaw
17 Friedrich Hayek’s Defense of the Market Order
Karen I. Vaughn
18 The Power and the Limits of Milton Friedman’s Arguments against Corporate Social Responsibility
Alexei Marcoux
19 Beyond the Difference Principle: Rawlsian Justice, Business Ethics, and the Morality of the Market
Matt Zwolinski
20 Commitments and Corporate Responsibility: Amartya Sen on Motivations to Do Good
Ann E. Cudd


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