Contractarian Business Ethics

Ben Wempe

Research output: Chapter/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


In this article I aim to assess the credentials of Contractarian business ethics (CBE) as a social contract argument. A comparative analysis of the use of the social contract model in two earlier domains, i.e. political authority and social justice is carried out to develops four criteria for future theorizing in business ethics based on the social contract model. To apply this method of argument properly to the domain of organizational ethics, CBE should be: 1) self-disciplined, i.e. not aspire results beyond what the contract model can realistically establish; 2) argumentative, i.e. provide principles that are demonstrative results of the contractarian method; 3) task-directed, i.e. it should be clear what the social contract thought-experiment is intended to model; and 4) it should be domain-specific, i.e. the contractarian choice situation should be tailored to the defining problems of organizational ethics.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNew Directions in Business Ethics
EditorsA. Crane, D Matten
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Publication series

SeriesSAGE Library in Business and Management
VolumeVol II

Bibliographical note

This article, which was originally published in Organization Studies in 2008, is now selected to be included in a four volume collection on the state of the art of theorizing in business ethics as part of the SAGE Library in Business and Management.
'When two of the leading thought leaders in business ethics pick the best-of-the-best thinking in an area, it's time to listen up. Crane and Matten's striking collection delivers not only the accomplishments of business ethics' past, but the promise of its future' - Thomas Donaldson, Mark O. Winkelman Professor and Director of the Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

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