How Can Business Ethics Strengthen the Social Cohesion of a Society?

Journal of Business Ethics 150 (3):619-629 (2018)
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Abstract

The essay aims to show how business ethics—understood as a three-level approach—can strengthen the social cohesion of a society, which is jeopardized today in many ways. In the first part, the purpose of business and the economy is explained as the creation of wealth defined as a combination of private and public wealth that includes natural, economic, human, and social capital. Special emphasis is placed on the implications of the creation of public wealth which requires institutions other than the market and motivations other than self-regarding ones. In the second part, the question of what holds a society together is discussed through different approaches: enlightened self-interest, a new game-theoretical approach, and the concept of the common good advanced by Catholic Social Teaching, followed by my own proposal. The third part presents several perspectives for business ethics to strengthen social cohesion of a society by focusing on the purpose of business and the economy to create natural, economic, human, and social capital; by advancing public goods that stand the test of ethical scrutiny; and by securing human rights conceptualized as public goods.

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