Oxford Handbook of Business Ethics (Reviewed)

Here’s a useful review of an excellent new reference volume: “The Oxford Handbook of Business Ethics, Reviewed by Matt Zwolinski, University of San Diego”.

I’ll admit right away that I’m biased: I’m co-author of a chapter in the Handbook (the chapter on Conflict of Interest) and Matt has nice things to say about our chapter in his review. But I’m pointing to the review as a way to make a point about the breadth of this thing we call “Business Ethics.”

Regarding the likely audience for the Handbook, Matt says the following:

The book will obviously be of interest to those for whom philosophical business ethics is a main area of interest. But the entries are clear and accessible enough to make the book of special value to at least two other groups: those whose approach to business ethics is not primarily philosophical will find here a useful ‘crash course’ in an alternative methodological approach to their own subject, and those philosophers who are not primarily interested in business ethics will be treated to a volume that makes clear the connection between business ethics and more standard philosophical subjects, and that will almost certainly provide them with new ways of thinking about both business ethics and other topics in value theory and political philosophy that are connected with business ethics in ways they might not have previously recognized.

Matt’s analysis of potential audiences is insightful, but I’d like to propose a further audience, namely those people who have a particular interest in business ethics, but who don’t know they’ve got a particular interest in Business Ethics. The people I have in mind here are the many many management professors, consultants, writers, and activists who have a deep (and sometimes professional) interest in ‘business doing the right thing’, but who do not (for one reason or another) identify with the term “Business Ethics.” That includes at least some professors who teach courses on “Business and Society” or “Corporate Social Responsibility,” and others whose work involves terms like “sustainability,” or “social responsibility” or “corporate accountability.” People working in those areas may, through an unfortunate fluke of language, be intellectually cut-off from mainstream academic Business Ethics, and a volume like the Oxford Handbook could be an excellent remedy for that.

(p.s., for a previous blog entry by me concerning the vocabulary of business ethics, see Barriers to Talking About Doing the Right Thing.)

(You can buy the Handbook via Amazon, here: Oxford Handbook of Business Ethics.)

7 comments so far

  1. Kirk Emery on

    What does the chapter on “conflict of interest” say about using a purportedly impartial website dedicated to the examination of topics relating to business ethics about using this website to promote one’s business engagements?

  2. Chris MacDonald on

    Perhaps you should read it to find out. I’d be happy to email you a copy if you’d like. That might be a good first step prior to making ill-founded accusations in the form of rhetorical questions.

  3. Andrew on

    Rhetorical or not, I think Kirk’s question is a fair one and should not be dismissed on the grounds of such unwarranted assumption.

    • Chris MacDonald on

      Andrew, Kirk makes vague reference to a “business engagement”. The book cited above is in no way a business engagement for me — at least not in any standard sense. And my involement in the book is clearly signalled in my blog entry. Kirk’s “question” is unwarranted.

  4. southwerk on

    There is no conflict of interest in recommending one of your own works on your own web site particularly when you have pointed out your self interest.

  5. southwerk on

    By the way, you can e-mail me a copy. jp

  6. […] In business ethics, ethics on June 29, 2010 at 10:24 pm Chris MacDonald has some insightful comments on what is meant by business ethics. You could also use the topic of corporate citizenship, […]


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