Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Carolyn Scott

Second Advisor

Thomas Dehner

Third Advisor

Michael Kramer


Business ethics occupies a unique position in the field of ethics. It consists of uneasy applications of some very general ethical principles (ie: duty or utility) to rather specific and often unique situations and crises. Unlike the professions of medicine and law, business ethics is concerned with an area of enterprise whose practitioners do not, for the most part, enjoy professional status and whose motives, to put it mildly, are often thought (and said) to be less than noble. Breed is often cited as the sole purpose of business, and much of the history of business ethics, accordingly, is not very flattering to business.

The subject of business ethics, as currently practiced, is not much over a decade old. Only a few years ago, the subject was still an awkward routine review of ethical theories, general considerations about the fairness of capitalism, and a number of already standard business cases, most of them disgraces, scandals, and disasters displaying the corporate world at its worst and its most irresponsible.

Today, new applications and a renewed sophistication in ethical theory have allowed the introduction of a more formal analysis in business ethics. Business ethics has evolved from a wholly critical attack on capitalism and "the profit motive" to a more productive and constructive examination of the underlying rules and practices of business. Accordingly, the first task in business ethics is to clear the way through the highly incriminating myths and metaphors, which obscure rather than clarify the underlying ethos that make business possible.

Included in

Business Commons