Business, Ethics, and Society


REL 83-228-603/MGT 45-228-606

M. Christian Green, Instructor

Spring 2003

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8:30-10:00 A.M.

Loop Campus, Lewis 1007


This course is an interdisciplinary examination of the moral and ethical issues arising from contemporary business practices and economic systems from the perspective of a variety of religious, philosophical, and political traditions.Each class meeting will feature discussion of classic and/or contemporary texts in religion, philosophy, and related disciplines along with application of ideas and principles from those traditions to case studies in business and economics.  Readings will acquaint the students with a variety of perspectives on wealth, virtue, justice, and responsibility relevant for both individual and corporate ethics in businesses, communities, and the global economy.  Case studies will apply the insights of these traditions to questions of business conduct, obligations to stakeholders, employer-employee relations, workplace diversity, pollution and the environment, and the role of multinational corporations in the global economy.  The student will gain broad knowledge of a variety of ethical approaches to wealth, business, and the economy; cultivate critical skills in written and oral ethical argumentation and analysis; and learn to apply complex moral concepts to concrete cases.


 Week 1–Introduction to the Course  (April 1 and 3)


  • To instructor, students, and syllabus.
  • To ethics and moral reasoning in business.
  • To case study method.

Video:  “Anatomy of a Corporate Takeover”

Week 1–Classical Views  (April 8 and 10)



  • “Virtues Concerned with Money,” Nichomachean Ethics, Book IV, Ch. 1-2. “Justice,” Nichomachean Ethics, Book V, Ch. 6-7
  • “Equity,” Nichomachean Ethics, Book V, Ch. 10 
  • “Friendship,” Nichomachean Ethics, Bk. VIII, Ch. 2-6, 13; Bk. IX, Ch. 5
  • “On the Management of the Household and the Perils of Trade,” in Politics, in Stackhouse, pp. 126-131.


  • “On Duties, Book II, Expediency”

Read the following sections:

  • I, v, 18-II, vii, 25;
  • II, viii, 29-II, xiii, 44; 
  • II, xv, 52-II, xxii, 74
  • “On Justice, Law and Nature,” in Stackhouse, pp. 133-36. 

Case Studies:  Obligations, to Stakeholders:  Employees, Customers, Community, and Stockholders 

Week 3–Biblical Views  (April 15 and 17)

Hebrew Bible

  • Genesis 1:1-4:1, 4:17-26, in Stackhouse, pp. 46-49.
  • “The Ten Commandments:  Economic Implications,” in Stackhouse, pp. 59-62
  • Deuteronomy 15:1-23, in Stackhouse, p. 64
  • “On Usury”/“On the Taking of Interest,” in Stackhouse, pp. 264-71
  • Sirach, in Stackhouse, pp. 65-66

New Testament

  • “Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount,” in Stackhouse, pp. 75-78.
  • “Matthew’s Parables,” in Stackhouse, pp. 82-84.
  • “Luke’s Poor,” in Stackhouse, pp. 87-93.
  • “What Then Shall We Do?  On Using Scripture in Economic Ethics,” in Stackhouse, pp. 109-113.

Case Studies:  Communication in Business:  Truth Telling, Misinformation, and Lying

Week 4–Catholic Tradition  (April 22 and 24)

Clement of Alexandria.

  • “Who is the Rich Man That Shall Be Saved?” in Stackhouse, pp. 143-46.

Thomas Aquinas

  • “Of Justice” and “Of Cheating,” in Stackhouse, pp.  159-68.

John A. Ryan

  • “The Church and the Working Man,” in Stackhouse, pp. 297-300.

National Conference of Catholic Bishops

  • Economic Justice for All: Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy, in Stackhouse, pp. 435-52. 

Pope John Paul II

  • Excerpt from Centesimus Annus, in Stackhouse, pp. 483-95.

Case Studies:  Employer-Employee Relations 

Week 5–Protestant Tradition  (April 19 and May 1)

Martin Luther

  • “Trade and Usury,” in Stackhouse, pp. 173-79.

John Wesley

  • “The Use of Money,” in Stackhouse, pp. 193-97.

Max Weber

  • “Asceticism and the Spirit of Capitalism,” from The Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism, in Stackhouse, pp. 247-51.

Fred Catherwood

  • “The Protestant Work Ethic:  Attitude and Application Give it Meaning,” in Stackhouse, pp. 682-86.

Case Studies:  Diversity in the Workplace 

Week 6—The Liberal Political Economy  (May 6 and 8) 

John Locke

  • “Of Property,” in Stackhouse, pp. 203-207.

Adam Smith

  • “Of the Causes of Improvement,” from An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, in Stackhouse, pp. 209-14.

Milton Friedman

  • Capitalism and Freedom, Ch. 1, 2, and 10 (pp. 1-36, 161-76)

Case Studies:  Pollution and Environment AND Multinationals

Week 7—Liberalism Continued:  Internal Critiques and Developments  (May 13 and 15)

Karl Marx

  • “The Manifesto of the Communist Party,” in Stackhouse, pp. 238-44.

John Rawls

  • “Two Principles of Justice,” from A Theory of Justice, in Stackhouse, pp. 228-30.

Amartya Sen

  • Development as Freedom, Introduction, Ch. 1, and Ch. 12  (pp. 1-34, 282-98)

Video:  “Affluenza”

For more information on this video and its follow-up, “Escape from Affluenza,” log onto: and

Week 8—Comparative Religious Perspectives (May 20 and 22) 



  • “Islam”/”Surahs from the Qur’an,” in Stackhouse, pp. 357-60
  • Robert Hefner, “Islam and the Spirit of Capitalism,” pp. 363-67


  • “Hinduism”/ “Artha Shastra”/ “Tirrukkural”, in Stackhouse, pp. 370-72.
  • Max L. Stackhouse, “The Hindu Ethic and Development:  Western Views,” pp. 375-82.


  • “Buddhism, Asceticism, and Wealth,” in Stackhouse, pp. 383-84.
  • Phra Rajavaramuni, “Buddhist Attitudes Toward Poverty and Wealth,” in Stackhouse, pp. 386-89.
  • E.F. Schumacher, “Buddhist Economics,” in Stackhouse, pp. 395-99.


  • “The Chinese Philosophy,” in Stackhouse, pp. 400.
  • Wei-ming Tu, “Is Confucianism Part of the Capitalist Ethic,” in Stackhouse, pp. 409-11.

African Religions

  • “African Traditions and Developments”/ “Wisdom from African Traditions,” in Stackhouse, pp. 412-414.
  • Peter J. Parish, “Slavery, Capitalism, and Religion,” in Stackhouse, pp. 312-22.
  • Julius Nyerere, “On the Division Between Rich and Poor,” in Stackhouse, pp. 415-17.

Video:  Hedrick Smith’s “Surviving the Bottom Line” Part II:  Living on the Fault-Line

For information on this video, including interview transcripts and synopses of other programs in this series, log onto:

In preparation for next week’s class, you may also want to check out Smith’s more recent exploration of work/family conflict at:

Week 9—Gender, Family, and Consumption (May 27 and 29)


Felice N. Schwartz

  • “Management, Women, and the New Facts of Life,” in Donaldson and Gini, pp. 161-70.

Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English

  • “Blowing the Whistle on the ‘Mommy Track’,” in Donaldson and Gini, pp. 172-75.

Amartya Sen

  • “Women’s Agency and Social Change,” Development as Freedom, Ch.8, pp.189-203.

Kathleen Gerson

  • “Few Good Men.” The American Prospect, 5:16 (December 1, 1994).

Steve Boint

  • “The Blue Collar Worker and the Church,” in Stackhouse, pp. 869-75.

John Kavanaugh

  • “Challenging a Commodity Culture,” in Stackhouse, pp. 593-98.

Video:  “Commanding Heights:  The Battle for the World Economy: Part III”

For information on this video and the others in the series, log onto:

Week 10–The Challenge of Globalization  (June 3 and 5)

Gustavo Gutierrez

“Liberation and Development,” in Stackhouse, pp. 332-38.       

Peter L. Berger

  • “The Gross National Product and the Gods:  The Idea of Economic Culture,” in Stackhouse, pp. 743-53.

Gene R. Laczniak and Jacob Naor

  • “Global Ethics: Wrestling with the Corporate Conscience,” in Stackhouse, pp.792-98.

Amartya Sen

  • Development as Freedom, Ch. 6 and 10  (pp. 146-59 and 227-48).

Video:  “Commanding Heights:  The Battle for the World Economy: Part III” (contd.)


The following texts are required reading for the course.  They are available at the bookstore and on two-hour reserve at the Circulation Desk at the Loop Campus Library.

Stackhouse, Max L., Dennis P. McCann, Shirley J. Roels, and Preston N. Williams (eds) On Moral Business  (Grand Rapids, MI:  William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995).

Donaldson, Thomas and A.R. Gini. Case Studies in Business Ethics, 4th Edition (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1996).

Friedman, Milton. Capitalism and Freedom (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982).

Sen, Amartya. Development as Freedom (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999).