Rights and Interests in a Participatory Market Society

Business Ethics Quarterly 4 (1):79-96 (1994)
In this paper I try to enlarge the scope of the questions commonly treated in business ethics. I first argue that not motives but action structures should form the basis of our analytical endeavours. I then distinguish three basic structures in human action: self-directed, other-including and other-directed actions. These structures, when linked with the concepts of interests and legitimate claims or rights, lead to a taxonomy of moral behaviour in business that I describe as, respectively, transactional, recognitional and participatory ethics, three distinct realms of moral behaviour, each characterized by a specific set of moral principles and a special relation between moral agents. My contention is that, up to now, analysis in business ethics has largely been focused on issues in the field of recognitional ethics. The discipline itself as well as ethical practices in business may greatly profit by paying explicit attention to market morality and transactional ethics as well as to the non-enforceable we-alliances of a participatory ethics, increasingly possible and needed in present-day civil society
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