Practising Applied Ethics with philosophical integrity: the case of Business Ethics

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Abstract:

The unprecedented growth and demand for Applied Ethics (Business Ethics, Medical Ethics, Information Ethics, Engineering Ethics, etc.) since the last quarter of the previous century, has opened up a range of new opportunities for the discipline of Philosophy. While these new opportunities have been enthusiastically seized upon by some philosophers, others have frowned upon them or rejected them outright. In order to make sense of this demand for Applied Ethics training, I will first explore in general why this demand for Applied Ethics developed. I will then use the example of Business Ethics to demonstrate and discuss some of the suspicions contemplated by philosophers who regard Applied Ethics as a dangerous and deceitful temptation that potentially can corrupt Philosophy, and that philosophers should at best avoid or at least be very careful of. I will assess the legitimacy and seriousness of these concerns and objections with regard to Business Ethics and then outline an Aristotelian approach to Business Ethics that I believe can be practised with philosophical integrity.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8608.2008.00529.x

Affiliations: Professor of Philosophy, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa.

Publication date: April 1, 2008

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