In Defence Of Wish Lists: Business Ethics, Professional Ethics, and Ordinary Morality

Business and Professional Ethics Journal 42 (1):79-107 (2023)
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Business ethics is often understood as a variety of professional ethics, and thus distinct from ordinary morality in an important way. This article seeks to challenge two ways of defending this claim: first, from the nature of business practice, and second, from the contribution of business. The former argument fails because it undermines our ability to rule out a professional-ethics approach to a number of disreputable practices. The latter argument fails because the contribution of business is extrinsic to business in a way that distinguishes from the established professions. The article ultimately suggests we adopt a more aspirational approach to business ethics, which retains an appeal even in the face of charges of anti-capitalist irrelevance.

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Matthew Sinnicks
University of Southampton


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