Why be moral in business? A Rawlsian approach to moral motivation

Business Ethics Quarterly 12 (1):57-72 (2002)
Abstract
Abstract: This article puts forth the thesis that the contractualist account of moral justification affords a powerful reply in business contexts to the question why a business person should put ethics above immediate business interests. A brief survey of traditional theories of business ethics and their approaches to moral motivation is presented. These approaches are criticized. A contractualist conception of ethics in the business world is developed, based on the work of John Rawls and Thomas Scanlon. The desire to justify our choices in terms that others can be reasonably expected to accept, or at least in terms that others cannot reasonably reject, is identified and differentiated from other accounts of motivation. It is this desire that constitutes the core motive to be moral in business on the contractualist conception. Implications of this contractualist conception for the theory and practice of business ethics are then discussed
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