boisi center for religion and american public life
Ethical Issues in Business and Economics
Course Outline, Spring 2007
Part 1: The Power and Promise of Economics
(1) Tue 9/4: Introduction
(2) Thu 9/6: Economics and the Market: The Orthodox View
What's so great about free markets?
(3) Tue 9/11: Christian Reflections on the Primacy of Economics
Are there limits to the explanatory power of economics?
(4) Thu 9/13: Heterodox Economics
What if economics is based on flawed assumptions about rationality and
Part 2: Philosophical Resources for Business Ethics
(5) Tue 9/18: Business Ethics Concepts and Contexts
Is “business ethics” an oxymoron?
(6) Thu 9/20: Justice as a Guide to Evaluating Social and Economic Systems
What's the best way to distribute resources across a society?
(7) Tue 9/25: Outcomes as a Guide to Morality (Utilitarianism)
Can you measure happiness? Is it okay to rob Peter to pay Paul?
(8) Thu 9/27: Rights and Duties as Guides to Morality
Who decides what's right or wrong?
(9) Tue 10/2: Virtues as Guides to Morality
What kind of person acts ethically?
Part 3: Theological Resources for Business Ethics
(10) Thu 10/4: Creation and Dominion
What would it mean if God gave humans dominion over the earth?
** Mon 10/8 Short Paper due (in print) by 4pm in my office.
(11) Tue 10/9: Exodus, Covenant, Prophetic Witness
What binds a religious community together? How can those values and
beliefs be sustained and reclaimed in a diverse society?
(12) Thu 10/11: The Gospel Message
What would Jesus do?
(13) Tue 10/16: Scripture as a Guide to Business Ethics
What's the point of quoting chapter and verse?
(14) Thu 10/18: Islamic Business Ethics
Is Islam anti-capitalist?
(15) Tue 10/23: Jewish, Christian and Islamic Perspectives on (Financial) Interest
When is lending money usurious?
(16) Thu 10/25: Religious Perspectives on Gambling
What, if anything, is wrong with gambling?
(17) Tue 10/30: Buddhist and Confucian Perspectives on Business Ethics
Do Eastern and Western economic values conflict?
(18) Thu 11/1: Catholic Social Thought on Economic Justice
Does the economy serve the people, or vice versa?
(19) Tue 11/6: Catholic Social Thought on Economic Justice (cont.)
Are there ethical norms governing economic life?
(20) Thu 11/8: In-class Examination
Part 4: Selected Topics in Business Ethics
(21) Tue 11/13: Poverty
What can/does the market do for/to the poor?
(22) Thu 11/15: Wealth and Inequality
How much is too much? Is economic inequality a good thing?
(23) Tue 11/20: Fraud, Frenzy and the Dot-Com Bubble
Where did Enron and Arthur Anderson go wrong?
** Thu 11/22: NO CLASS: THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY
(24) Tue 11/27: Globalization and Corporate Social Responsibility
Does owning stock mean investing in apartheid and genocide?
(25) Thu 11/29: Bioethics and Business
Should life itself be a source of profit? Is the cost of saving one life ever
(26) Tue 12/4: The Business of Religion
Should religious organizations be exempt from laws that govern
(27) Thu 12/6: Conclusion: Thinking about Ethics in Everyday Life
So Now What?