The personal gift in sound business enterprises: Bounded rationality, incommensurable values and economic agency

This paper defends a normative basis for entrepreneurial ventures, and draws the conclusion that any enterprise, insofar as it is reasonable, has in final analysis to be a (free) gift to promote good. Building on Herbert Simon's idea of "satisficing" and developing it in line with axiological insights of the new classical natural law theory, this paper makes the argument that a choice to proceed reasonably in any entrepreneurial venture will be guided by rationality that is bounded. Bounded rationality entails that the various end-values or goals of the venture will be incommensurable, and this implies that (1) the enterprise need not be locked in on promoting merely one value, such as profits, and (2) a choice to aim at one or more goals will be a personal (free) gift, which is ethically valuable. This paper has appeared in Spanish translation as El don personal en las empresas sanas: racionalidad limitada, valores incommensurables y agencia economica in Revista Empresa y Humanismo, Vol. XI no. 1 (2008), pp. 67-88, published by the Institute for Business and Humanism, University of Navarra, Spain. Permission granted to reproduce/publish the original English version here and elsewhere.
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