Business Ethics — Course Modules

Business and Economic Ethics [pdf]


What Does Automation Imply for Your Life?

Journalism relevant to Zach Meiborg visit on self-driving vehicles:
“Robots to help stock shelves at 50 Walmart stores.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Transportation sector: What could a company do with an additional $500mm of cash flow annually? Diesel is efficient but dirty – what does the costs & benefit of pollution on LA Note the phrase “Dump the fleshbag.” Will negative public emotion or positive economics dominate policy?

McKinsey Global Institute, “Automation Could Eradicate a Third of America’s Workforce by 2030.”
Deirdre McCloskey, “The Myth of Technological Unemployment.”
Freethink, “Will Robots Take Our Jobs?”
Rachel Koning Beals, “To fight automation, white-collar workers must play to this strength.” MarketWatch.
“These skills make you most employable.” [Chart]

Stephen Hicks, “Sex with Robots. The Ethics.” [Article]
Stephen Hicks, “Uber, Cuba, and Freedoms Large and Small.”


Egoism, Predation, or Altruism?

Bartley Madden, Value Creation Thinking. Only available at Amazon. [Book]
Plato, excerpts from The Republic: excerpt from Book 2 on “The Myth of Gyges.” [Book excerpt]
Mother Teresa, excerpt “On Prayer,” from No Greater Love (1987). [Book excerpt]

Stephen Hicks, “What Business Ethics Can Learn from Entrepreneurship” [Article pdf]. Social Science Research Network
Karen Rinaldi, “Motherhood Isn’t Sacrifice, It’s Selfishness,” The New York Times. [Article]
Strata Academics, Twelve Entrepreneurial Virtues. [Article]


Competition and/or Cooperation?

Timothy Taylor, “The Blurry Line Between Competition and Cooperation” [CEE]
Shawn Klein, “Sportsmanship” [podcasts] and “Competition” [article].
Frédéric Bastiat, “A Petition from the Candlemakers about Unfair Competition from the Sun” (1845).
Satire: “Ball-less Soccer in Olympia, Washington” .

Burton Folsom, “Political Entrepreneurs vs. Market Entrepreneurs.”
Stephen Hicks, “Is Life Unfair? My Challenge to the Best Tennis Player in the World.”


Freedom and Self-Ownership

Robert Nozick, “The Tale of the Slave” , from Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974). [HTML]
Jason Brennan and Peter Jaworski, “If You May Do It for Free, You May Do It for Money.” Responses by Benjamin Barber and Ilya Somin.
Stephen Wilkinson, “The Sale of Human Organs,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. [Article]

Robert Lawson, “Economic Freedom.” CEE. [Article]
James Buchanan, “Saving the Soul of Classical Liberalism”, The Wall Street Journal (2000). [Article]


Individualism and Collectivism

Stanley Milgram, “Conformity,” excerpt from Obedience to Authority (1974).
Linda Gorman, “Discrimination,” CEE. [Article]
Tom Beauchamp, “McAleer v. AT&T”.
Jason D. Hill, Becoming a Cosmopolitan. Available at Amazon, the RU Bookstore, and other places.
Historical slavery: overview and statistics.
TedEd, The Atlantic Slave Trade [Video]
Charles Ogletree, “The Case for Affirmative Action.” (2015)
Thomas Sowell, “Affirmative Action: A Worldwide Disaster” (2004).
Ayn Rand, “Racism=,” Forbes magazine. [Article]
R. Kevin Hill, “Libertarians and Reparations for Slavery.”

Jason Hill, “An Immigrant’s American Dream.”
Stephen Hicks, How to Discriminate Properly”
Transatlantic Slave Trade: Where the slaves went.
“Contemporary slavery.”
Global Slavery Index.
Raj Bhopal, “The beautiful skull and Blumenbach’s errors: the birth of the scientific concept of race.” BMJ. 2007 Dec 22; 335(7633): 1308–1309. doi: 10.1136/bmj.39413.463958.80.
Scott Carpenter,
Jaana Woiceshyn, “Why is there racism in business?”


Drug Legalizing

William Bennett and Milton Friedman, Open Letters on the War on Drugs, from The Wall Street Journal (1989).
Journalism: Colorado legalization results.
Nicholas Kristof, “How to Win a War on Drugs.” The New York Times. Jeff Hunt, “Marijuana devastated Colorado, don’t legalize it nationally,” USA Today. Christopher Ingraham, “Following marijuana legalization, teen drug use is down in Colorado,” The Washington Post.


Health Care

Tom Beauchamp, “Manufacture and Regulation of Laetrile”.
Charles Hooper, “Pharmaceuticals” [CEE]
Marta Podemska-Mikluch, “Insurance Cartel Holds Back Life-Saving Therapy from Thousands of Small Children.”
Rationing: “British decision: no surgery for obese or smokers.” Importing pharmaceuticals: Not from Canada.

Are You Rich or Poor?

Hans Rosling, “200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes — The Joy of Stats,” BBC Four. [Video]
Max Roser, Five Charts. Our World in Data.
John V. C. Nye, “Standards of Living and Modern Economic Growth” Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. [Article]

Bret Swanson, “The i-Phone in Your Pocket Is Worth Millions.” Foundation for Economic Education. [Article]
Pew Research Center, “How the cost of light has fallen by a factor of 500,000.” [Article]


Why Are Some Wealthy and Some Not?

The World Bank, “Doing Business”: An international index of the ease or difficulty of doing business. [Charts]
Jennifer Dirmeyer, “The Jitney Potential” [PDF article]
Journalism relevant to Dirmeyer’s article: Tennessee Cops Bust Barbers Who Lack High School Diplomas. Nigerians’ Mandatory Paid Vacations. Illinois Daycare Regulations. Baltimore Food Trucks.
Peter Singer, “The Duty to Give to the World’s Poor”. [Article]
Garrett Hardin, “Lifeboat Ethics: The Case against Helping the Poor” (1974). [Article]

How America’s poor can still be rich in stuff. [Article]
Stephen Hicks, “Who Really Wants to Solve the Problem of Poverty?” [Article]


Rent Controls

Walter Block, “Rent Control” [CEE]
Optional video lecture: S. Hicks on “Rent Controls” []
Journalism: Stockholm. Mumbai. New York. San Francisco.

Minimum Wages

Linda Gorman, Minimum Wages [CEE]
Optional video lecture: S. Hicks on Minimum Wages []
Journalism:  “The Seattle Minimum Wage Study”.


Tragedy of the Commons

Robert Lawson, “Economic Freedom” [CEE]
Robert Litan, “Regulation” [CEE]
Garrett Hardin, “The Tragedy of the Commons” [CEE]
Optional video lecture: Stephen Hicks, “Tragedy of the Commons” (
Optional video lecture: Mike Munger, “Market failures and Externalities”
Journalism examples: Online Dating Apps. Shared bicycles.



Journalism: John Stossel, “Greed,” ABC News Special.
Neera Badhwar, “Free Markets and Business Don’t Require Greed”.
Notes on ABC News Special “Greed” (1999).
Lester C. Thurow, “Profit” [CEE]
Optional: Stephen Hicks, “Profits–Good, Bad, and Obscene.”



Tara Smith, “Money Can Buy Happiness” [pdf at Reason Papers] (2003).
The Bible: “The love of money is a root of all evil.” “You cannot serve both God and money.”
Charles Mathewes and Evan Sandsmark, “Being Rich Wrecks Your Soul.”
[Optional: Stephen Hicks, “Loving Money and Books — Which Is More Evil?”]
[Optional: Andreas Antonopoulos, “How bitcoin is changing the world,” 2017 ]



Stephen Hicks, “What Is Government?” Excerpted from Political Ethics White Paper.
Ayn Rand, “The Nature of Government”.
François Melese“Corruption”, The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics.




Free Trade Makes You a Better Person.

Uber, Cuba, and Freedoms Small and Large.
The Trading Game: Arbitrary, Free Trade, Restrictions, Egalitarian, Authoritarian.


Resources — Plenty or Scarcity?

Do we really live in a world of scarce resources?
Garrett Hardin, “The Tragedy of the Commons” [CEE]
Stephen Hicks, “Lifeboat ethics: how scarcity thinking sets us at each others’ throats”.
Garrett Hardin, “Lifeboat Ethics: The Case against Helping the Poor” (1974).



F. A. Hayek, “The Use of Knowledge in Society” (1945).
Information Asymmetry :



Stephen Hicks, Why power does not corrupt — and it is character that matters most.
Third-Way Politics and Its Bitter Fruits.
Stephen Hicks, “Ethics for a Democratic Republic” (2015).
Economic and Political Power


Property Rights

International Property Rights Index.
The Kelo case.
Journalism: “An entire Manhattan village owned by black people was destroyed to build Central Park.”



Mark J. Perry, “Creative Destruction Builds Prosperity As It Topples Big Companies”.
Stephen Hicks, Good Monopoly, Bad Monopoly: When Are Monopolies Actually a Problem?
Who Is Really Serious About Monopolies?



Robert Litan, “Regulation
Stephen Hicks, Blamestorming and “Deregulation caused the financial crisis”.


Public Choice

David R. Henderson, “Rent Seeking”.
Wikipedia, “Rent Seeking.”
William Shughart, “Public Choice” [CEE].
Russell Roberts, “If You’re Paying, I’ll Have Top Sirloin” (1995).
Rob Norton, “Unintended Consequences” [CEE].
James M. Buchanan, “Public Choice: Politics without Romance,” Policy Magazine (2003).
Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged.

Unintended Consequences
Dispersed Costs and Concentrated Benefits


Environmental Values

The Love Canal Environmental Disaster.
The Bhopal Chemical Spill Disaster.
Daniel Fernández Méndez, “The Real Relationship Between Capitalism and the Environment.”




Stephen Hicks, Whistleblowing and Government Secrets, Chelsea Manning edition.


Division of Labor

Adam Smith, “Of the Division of Labour”, Chapter 1 of The Wealth of Nations (1776).



Transparency International.
Stephen Hicks, Corruption—Is It Worse in Free or Government-Regulated Markets?



Benjamin Powell:


Child Labor

Jeffrey Tucker, “Let the Kids Work.” FEE.
Antony Davies and James Harrigan, “Child Labor Was Wiped Out by Markets, Not Government,” Words and Numbers.


Michael Munger, “When Is a Potato Chip Not Just a Potato Chip?”



Why are some countries rich and some countries poor?
Gapminder Chart.
Stephen Hicks, NA and LA.



Is the Capitalist Peace thesis true?



Alexei Marcoux, “Entrepreneurship: Schumpeter, Knight, and Kirzner.” CEE.
Kirk O. Hanson, “The Ethical Challenges Facing Entrepreneurs”, WSJ.
Kaizen entrepreneur interviews.
Stephen Hicks, “What Entrepreneurs Can Teach Us All About Life,” The Wall Street Journal
Terry Noel, “Entrepreneurship and Management.” CEE.


Famous entrepreneurs in history

J. J. Hill
John D. Rockefeller
C. J. Walker, “Madam C. J. Walker: The Ultimate Self-Made Woman.”
Cornelius Vanderbilt
Mary Kay Ash
Ray Kroc. The Founder. 2017 docudrama featuring Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc.
Sam Walton.
Steve Jobs.

Business Ethics Cases

Chris MacDonald and Alexei Marcoux. Business Ethics Highlights.
Tom Beauchamp, “The FCC’s ‘Fairness Doctrine'”.
Telecommunications and the “‘Fairness Doctrine'”.
John Haring, “Telecommunications” [CEE].
Tom Beauchamp, “Putting the Squeeze on Citrus Hill Orange Juice” .
Tom Beauchamp, “Hooker Chemical and Love Canal” .

The Love Canal Environmental Disaster.
Tom Beauchamp, “Venture Capital for Rubbernex” .

The Bhopal Chemical Spill Disaster.



Comparing North and Latin American Economic Performance.
Indices: Index of Economic Freedom, Economic Freedom of the World, and



Mark Hlavac, Nobel Prize-Winning Contributions to Economics.
John Maynard Keynes, The End of Laissez-Faire
Hicks on Keynes, Can We Blame Keynes for Keynesianism?
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson (1946).
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson (1946).
Karl Marx, Excerpts from The Communist Manifesto .
Max Weber, excerpt from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.







Al Gini and Ronald Green, Ten Virtues of Leadership



Opportunity Cost

Bastiat, “The Seen and the Unseen.”

Bootleggers and Baptists


Transaction Costs

Michael Munger, “Why We Can’t Break Up With Our Stuff Yet”


Topics to come


The Jones Act

Thomas Grennes, “An Economic Analysis of the Jones Act.”



Financial services


Stoicism and leadership


Drug Pricing


Recommended Other Sources

Strata Academics, Entrepreneurial Virtues.
Michael Munger, Introduction to Political Economy course.
Richard Lorenc, “Twelve Economic Concepts Everyone Should Know.”
Bartley J. Madden, “Reconstructing Your Worldview in Five Minutes”
Debate Evaluation Rubric.