A Brief on Business Ethics - The Essential Ideas (web publication)

Prosperity should be companies' main objective

In the seventeenth IEA Discussion Paper, leading libertarian philosopher Tibor Machan examines the key debates in the field of business ethics.

Professor Machan argues that business does something morally worthwhile when it pursues profit, when prosperity is taken to be its main objective. Nevertheless, companies should exercise appropriate concern for other decent objectives apart from profit.

Stakeholder theory and notions of corporate social responsibility may threaten the ethical pursuit of business by introducing compulsion and undermining private property rights. No good deed can be regarded as morally responsible if it is done because it is coerced.

2007, Discussion Paper 17

An updated (2009) version of this paper is also available. If you would like to receive a copy, please email Richard Wellings (IEA)

See also:

Misguided Virtue: False Notions of Corporate Social Responsibility by David Henderson.
The Role of Business in the Modern World by David Henderson.
Corporate Governance: Accountability in the Marketplace by Elaine Sternberg.
Just Business by Elaine Sternberg.