A new perspective on ethics, ecology, and economics

Journal of Business Ethics 54 (3):203 - 216 (2004)
Abstract
This paper introduces the important concept of a biophysical perspective on economics into the business ethics literature. The biophysical perspective recognizes that ecological processes determine what can be done in an economy and how best to do it. A biophysical perspective places the economic system into a larger context of the ecologic system. This changes the perception of ethical issues by identifying a larger scope of management decisions. The paper examines the changing ethical landscape in such issues as biotechnology, planned obsolescence, productivity, and international trade. The paper also examines the shift in mindset associated with the shift in economic framework. It draws on the literature on cognitive structures and moral imagination to show this new perspective can actually raise the bar for ethical decision-making and behavior. The pattern is that the ethical behavior associated with a biophysical economic framework has a greater scope of responsibility with the benefit that the required ethical behavior leads to better long-term decision making
Keywords Ecology  economics  natural capital  mental models  moral imagination
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