Marc Le Menestrel
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Business, Ethics and Profit: Economic Approaches (Lecture 3 with Discussion, May 8, 2017)

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by Marc Le Menestrel (2/03/2011)

Nobel Prize laureate Milton Friedman argues that the sole social responsibility of companies is to maximise profits. We discuss the foundations of the argument, its practical implications in business situations, its historical context and its current relevance. Building on the work of Nobel Prize laureate Amartya Sen, we then discuss how economic approaches have progressively separated economics from ethics.

Required readings

Friedman, Milton, “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profit”, New York Times Magazine (September 13, 1970).

Sen, Amartya. “Moral Codes and Economic Success”, in Brittan, S. & Hamlin, A. (eds) Market Capitalism and Moral Values, Aldershot UK: Edward Elgar, 1993, pp. 23-34.

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