Is there Such a Thing as a Good Profit? Taking Conventional Ethics Seriously

Marja K. Svanberg*, Carl F. C. Svanberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

This paper will show that if we take conventional ethics seriously, then there is no moral justification for business profits. To show this, we explore three conventional ethical theories, namely Christian ethics, Kantian ethics and Utilitarian ethics. Since they essentially reject self-interest, they also reject the essence of business: the profit motive. To illustrate the relationship, we will concretize how the anti-egoist perspective expresses itself in business and business ethics. In business, we look at what many businesses regard as proof of their virtue. In business ethics, we look at what many business ethicists say about the relationship between morality and self-interest and, thus, the profit motive. Ultimately, we will argue that conventional ethics can, at most, only justify the means of business (i.e., aspects of running a business), but not the end of business (i.e., profits).

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages27
JournalPHILOSOPHIA
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Feb 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Business ethics
  • Conventional ethics
  • The ethics of self-sacrifice
  • Morality of business
  • The profit motive

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