|The primary aim of this course is to help students define for themselves their own canon of business ethics, one that reflects their experience and is tailored to their professional goals. We will build a vocabulary for talking about business ethics by examining the work of a wide variety of authors – from economists and entrepreneurs to philosophers, journalists, and revolutionaries – all of whom have written about the place of business and the business professional in the modern world. These authors include Benjamin Franklin, Andrew Carnegie, Karl Marx, George Orwell, Ayn Rand, and, most importantly, Adam Smith, whose Wealth of Nations and heory of Moral Sentiments we will return to throughout the course. The topics we will cover include:
• Self-Interest vs. Selfish-Interest
• The Role of Empathy in Commercial Relationships
• Philanthropy and the Responsibilities of Wealth
• The Free-Market as an Engine for Virtue and Vice
• The Ideals of Capitalism vs. Lived Experience
As an ethics course, the questions we will take up are large, contentious, and, most importantly, open-ended. Through in-class and online discussion, the course will help students determine their own answers, defend them intelligently, and recognize the merits of answers that other students give. To facilitate this discussion, please note that the course requires weekly writing assignments.