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Business ethics

Business ethics is the study of common ethical questions that people face in conducting business.

Table of contents

General introduction

[The introduction needs to discuss general ethical/philosophical discussions about the intersection of ethics and the accumulation and use of wealth. This introductory section should, at the very least, survey progress in this field from the Enlightenment to today.]

Religious views on business ethics

Jewish views

Judaism has an extensive literature and legal code on the accumulation and use of wealth. The basis of these laws is the Torah, where there are more rules about the kashrut (fitness) of one's money than about the kashrut of one's food. These laws are developed and expanded upon in the Mishnah and the Talmud.

Rabbi Yisrael Salanter (19th century), founder of the Mussar movement in Eastern European, taught that just as one checks carefully to make sure their food is kosher, so too should one check to see if their money is earned in a kosher fashion. (Chofetz Chaim, Sfat Tamim, chapter 5).

Jewish references on this topic include:

"The Challenge of Wealth", Meir Tamari, Jason Aronson Inc., 1995
"You Shall Strengthen Them: A Rabbinic Letter on the Poor" Elliot N. Dorff with Lee Paskind (The Rabbinical Assembly)

Christian views

Christianity has an extensive literature and legal code on the accumulation and use of wealth. The basis of these laws is the Torah, and they are amplified in the New Testament.

Muslim views

Islam has an extensive literature and legal code on the accumulation and use of wealth. The basis of these laws is the Quran, and they are amplified in the Hadith.

Political theory

Libertarian socialist view of property

Libertarian socialists, sometimes known as left-anarchists, hold that, as Proudhon said, "Property is theft" -- that is, in reference to the ownership of productive resources, property is not the right to use, but the right to keep others from using. Advocates of this philosophy therefore hold the "institution of property", as they sometimes call it, to be immoral in itself, so the accumulation of wealth that includes productive resources, especially land, is also immoral. This means that no business can really be ethical, since the very foundation of business as we know it is private property.



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