Business and Professional Ethics (PHIL*2600DE) | College of Arts

Business and Professional Ethics (PHIL*2600DE)

Term: Winter 2014


In 1970 Milton Friedman said that it is the social responsibility of business to increase it's profits. Put another way, businesses are there to make money, not be socially conscious. The business community has been wrestling with this comment ever since. On one level, it seems obvious that a business should concern itself with making a profit, but what if that profit comes as a result of displacing indigenous groups in Africa to put in a new mine or converting eco-systems to produce export crops that make local residents dependent on foreign trade to feed themselves? Does a business not bear some responsibility in these situations that goes beyond profit making? Or should a business simply be concerned with ensuring that its practices are within the bounds of law and the rest of the problems can be dealt with by lawmakers for example? These are some questions that we will address in this course.

By the end of this course, you will have a familiarity with the predominant ethical theories and be able to apply those theories to situations in the business world. These theoretical tools will help to deepen and broaden your understanding of the ethical situation, not just to be more critical thinkers, but to understand how the decision maker, the business, stakeholders, and the general public are implicated in business issues.

The point is to develop a set of competencies that ask us to think more critically about our activities; to ask who is involved, to what extent, who is responsible, what is the impact on my sense of self, my workplace, my society, my world? This course will ask us to broaden our scope in understanding difficult situations.


PDF icon PHIL2600 W14 Syllabus.pdf142.83 KB