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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Assignments TH210

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 
                        utility?
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 
                           too high?

(26) Tue 12/4:  The Business of Religion
                          Should religious organizations be exempt from laws that govern
                          businesses?

(27) Thu 12/6:  Conclusion: Thinking about Ethics in Everyday Life
                          So Now What?