Philosophy & Economics

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Veranstaltungstitel Is Business Ethics Bullshit?
Kennzeichen 50338
Veranstaltungsart Blockseminar
Fachgruppe Philosophie
Semester Sommer 2020
Dozent(en) Hasko von Kriegstein
Empfehlung(en) Studiensemester BA höhere Fachsemester (> 6) (P&E Bachelor)
2. Semester (P&E Master)
3. Semester (P&E Master)
4. Semester (P&E Master)
Bereich(e) V3: Verzahnungsseminar I
V4: Verzahnungsseminar II
MA Electives


The past couple of decades have produced two apparently contradictory trends. On the one hand, both business schools and large corporations have publicly affirmed their increased commitment to better business ethics and corporate social responsibility. On the other hand, the cynical view that the very term ‘business ethics’ is a contradiction in terms is becoming increasingly popular. According to that view, where there is business, there is no ethics. Proponents of business ethics and CSR, of course, don’t deny the ever-growing list of ethical scandals in the world of commerce. What they do deny is that the tension between business and ethics is an essential one. The cynics, for their part, don’t claim that businesses never act in accordance with their ethical responsibilities. What they do claim is that businesses only do so whenever it’s profitable.

What reasons could be given for saying, not just that business ethics is difficult or rare, but that genuine business ethics is impossible (or even undesirable)? There are at least six distinct arguments for that conclusion. In this course, we will examine them in some detail and look at ways in which they may be countered. The arguments we will be looking at are that (1) all human actions are ultimately traceable to self-interest (2) business is a game in which morality is suspended (3) competitive markets work best when all participants single-mindedly pursue their own self-interest (4) corporate law mandates the pursuit of profit as the only goal of corporations (5) large corporations are structured in such a way as to ensure that the most ruthless individuals will succeed (6) markets are structured in such a way as to ensure that the most ruthless businesses will succeed.


Send an email to by March 7. Make sure to indicate your semester. I will let you know whether you have a spot by March 14.

Erfordernisse zum Punkteerwerb

Students will write a paper (Hausarbeit) before the seminar and present the paper during the seminar.

Zugehörige Termine
von - bis Ort  
Fri. 10.07.2020 S 6 (GW II)
Sat. 11.07.2020 S 6 (GW II)
Sun. 12.07.2020 S 6 (GW II)