What business ethics can learn from entrepreneurship

apee-100x177My essay on “What Business Ethics Can Learn from Entrepreneurship” [pdf] was published in the Spring 2009 issue of the Journal of Private Enterprise, edited by Edward Peter Stringham.

The article is a relatively brief nine pages. The abstract:

“Entrepreneurship is increasingly studied as a fundamental and foundational economic phenomenon. It has, however, received less attention as an ethical phenomenon. Much contemporary business ethics assumes its core application purposes to be (1) to stop predatory business practices and (2) to encourage philanthropy and charity by business. Certainly predation is immoral and charity has a place in ethics, but neither should be the first concerns of ethics. Instead, business ethics should make fundamental the values and virtues of entrepreneurs—i.e., those self-responsible and productive individuals who create value and trade with others to win-win advantage.”

6 thoughts on “What business ethics can learn from entrepreneurship

  • July 9, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    Nicely done article. I believe that the virtues you describe will soon be necessary to survival, not just prosperity. If I am correct, those now in power will bring the whole economy down. In the aftermath, those who practice these virtues will find a way, even if they have to barter to arrange win/win trades.

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  • August 15, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    Dr. Hicks,

    I just finished watching from Netflix your 2006 film “Nietsche and the Nazis.” I gave it a four-star rating. Except for a few cursory treatments of Marx and Lenin, it was the first real treatment that I’ve seen of a philosopher in the “mass media.” I thought your exposition of Nietsche’s philosophy and both his similarities and differences with the Nazis was very good, although I’m not a Nietsche scholar.

    I do, however, have two quibbles with the film. First, you persistently present Hitler and the Nazis as socialists. At best they were rhetorical socialists. Hitler killed one of the Strasser brothers in the “Night of the Long Knives” in 1934 and drove the other into exile. They were the real socialists in the party. Socialism has traditionally been defined as the ownership by the state of the means of production for the benefit of the nation or the working class. Hitler only took over firms that he perceived as belonging to enemies of the state such as Jews, Marxists, etc. During World War II he exterminated the Jews as the expense of the war effort–that is where his real passion lay. As a liberterian it might be satisfying to be able to blame socialists for Hitler and the Nazis, but I know of no credible Hitler biographer or historian of Nazi Germany who makes this connection. And I say this not because I’m a socialist–I’m not, but because I deplore tendentious logic and disputation.

    Second, Hitler was the main philosopher of the Nazi party–there was no German Bukharin. Hitler was a syncretic thinker and not a systematic one. His anti-Semitism seems to have been picked up in Vienna before World War I. So Karl Luetge (sp. ?) the anti-Semitic mayor of Vienna was probably as great an influence as Nietsche. He also read widely the Western novels of Karl May, and so they were probably a great influence on his thinking. And of course he stole much from Italian fascism. Nietsche was only one part of this mixture–maybe less influential than Richard Wagner or Karl May.

  • November 18, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    I too just watched your presentation of Nietzsche and the Nazis from Netflix. It was such a masterfully presented and thorough approach I am moved to purchase this and share it with all of my friends and family.

    This is a topic I had studied in College as an elective and have had a bit of passion for throughout my years after school. I have always sought to study and understand why, how, and what mechanisms were behind the rise of Nazism. I follow this not out of appreciation but rather the opposite: in order to know when such threats are arising again and to be able to spot it early enough as to take action against it. Your presentation was a complete detail and summation of the very driving and basic foundations that allowed Nazism to come to power not from a collective madness but from an intellectually rooted base.

    Thank you so much for such a scholarly, insightful, intellectually stimulating and quite thorough relation of the Nazis, Nietzsche, and the philosophies behind both of them in relation to our western world.

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