Economics, ethics and business ethics: A critique of interrelationships

Abstract

Present-day economic thinking assumes that individuals always pursue their narrow self-interest or private economic incentives, and hence ignores the influence of ethical motives, such as sympathy and public interest, on human action. This paper focuses on the divergence between economic incentives and ethical motives for action in contemporary life and business. The paper underscores the nature of interrelationships among economics, ethics and business ethics, and highlights the relevance of ancient ethical principles, such as ethics of interdependence and ethics of prudence or self-development, to the development of present-day business ethics. The paper also emphasises the importance of the convergence between economic incentives and ethical motives for action, while stressing the need for a deeper appreciation of business ethics in today's rapidly globalising world.

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