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Looking for Answers in All the Wrong Places
Business Ethics Quarterly (2004)
  • Earl W. Spurgin, John Carroll University

In recent years, many business ethicists have raised problems with the "ethics pays" credo. Despite these problems, many continue to hold it. I argue that support for the credo leads business ethicists away from a potentially fruitful approach found in Hume's moral philosophy. I begin by demonstrating that attempts to support the credo fail because proponents are trying to provide an answer to the "Why be moral?" question that is based on rational self-interest. Then, I show that Hume's sentiments-based moral theory provides an alternative to the credo that points toward a more fruitful approach to business ethics. Along the way, I examine a recent social contract alternative to the credo that, despite many appealing features, is less effective than is the Humean alternative. Finally, I develop a Humean approach to business ethics and demonstrate why it is a desirable alternative that business ethicists should explore.

Publication Date
April, 2004
Citation Information
Earl W. Spurgin. "Looking for Answers in All the Wrong Places" Business Ethics Quarterly Vol. 14 Iss. 2 (2004)
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