The Anti-Egoist Perspective in Business Ethics and its Anti-Business Manifestations

Marja Svanberg*, Carl F.C. Svanberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


This article identifies the moral premises of contemporary business ethics. After analyzing thirty business ethics texts, the article shows that many business ethicists hold the conventional view that being moral is altruistic. This altruistic perspective logically implies a negative evaluation of self-interest and the profit motive, and business. As a result, the prevailing attitude in mainstream business ethics is that without altruistic restraints businesspeople are inclined to lie, steal, and cheat, not create and earn wealth through honest production and voluntary trade. Therefore, the central concern in current business ethics is to curb businesspeople morally, not to empower them in their self-interested desire to make money. In the final analysis, the article shows how the anti-egoist assumptions manifest themselves in a moral prejudice against business, leading to a biased, unfair, and misleading account of the business world.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages28
JournalPhilosophy of management
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Jun 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Altruism
  • bias
  • Business ethics
  • Business ethics textbooks
  • Egoism
  • Profit motive


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