Crossroads of Philosophy and Economics

Pocket Reference of Business Ethics Theories



Social Marketplace Ethics

sometimes called Enlightened Marketplace
or Shared Value Theory

Respect for laws, optionally including deference to foundational social conventions involving honesty, fidelity and similar.
Broad social and environmental welfare hold value, but only insofar as they create profit (or, theoretically, have no negative affect) on the bottom line.
Check decisions for economic viability in the marketplace (profit), and then for compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
Know and honor society's established moral conventions (optional: "only insofar as they facilitate marketplace success").
Pursue strategies that both serve social/environmental welfare, and can be adapted to enhance marketplace success.
Key concepts
Ethics starts as the pursuit of economic opportunities within legal boundaries. Traditional non-legal duties including those to honesty and fidelity may be respected on their own (as an extension of respect for the law), or they may be respected insofar as they ultimately yield bottom line rewards.
The broad welfare of those individuals not directly connected with the business, and our larger shared planet is considered valuable, and contributions to them are pursued as a strategy for marketplace success.
Hard question
Do contributions to social welfare or environmental stewardship count when undertaken only if they increase profit?

Arm and Hammer released it’s green-friendly cleaning products line in 2008, a business decision hailed by eco-conscious websites including No one doubts that the products are better for the environment than more traditional competitors, but three years later, they’re no longer being produced. Arm and Hammed couldn't turn a profit on its Essentials cleaning line, so it disappeared. “We haven’t given up on launching innovative, earth-friendly products, we’ve just taken a step back to think about how and when consumers will be ready,” said chief marketing officer, Bruce Fleming. Written in ethical terms, he’s saying that social and environmental responsibility is great, but if it’s not profitable, it’s out: social and environmental betterment hold value underneath the stronger value of profit.

Prime philosophical
theory compatibilities
Rights theory, Duty theory, Utilitarianism, Culturalism.
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