Darden School Professor Jared Harris Releases New Book on Kantian Business Ethics

20 November 2012

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business announced the release of a new book published by Edward Elgar Publishing Limited. Kantian Business Ethics: Critical Perspectives, was co-edited by Jared Harris, Darden professor and senior fellow in the Olsson Center for Applied Ethics, at Darden.

Moral actions should arise from a consideration of principles and duties, according to Kantian ethics. Kantian Business Ethics: Critical Perspectives explores this philosophy as it pertains to ethics in business and management. The book features original essays by a number of distinguished scholars, using the Kantian-based ethics of influential professor Norman E. Bowie Millar supported the launch of the Norman E. Bowie.

As one of the foundational figures in business ethics, Norman E. Bowie, Olsson Center senior fellow and University of Minnesota Carlson School of Business professor emeritus, has argued that a Kantian moral philosophy is good for employees and for business. Eighteenth century German philosopher Immanuel Kant believed that moral requirements are based on a standard of reasoned rationality, and Bowie built upon these ideas to develop a Kantian approach to business ethics.

Contributors to Kantian Business Ethics: Critical Perspectives augment Bowie’s extensive body of writing by extending or challenging his core ideas.

“My co-editor and I gathered a number of respected experts in the field to create a dialogue about the work of Norman Bowie, one of the top scholars in business ethics and management. It was gratifying to assemble many of my academic heroes for this collection. The dialogue between the scholars is what makes the book special,” Harris said. “And as a former student of Norm’s, it was a privilege to help spearhead the project in his honor.”

Darden Professor R. Edward Freeman contributed an essay in which he argues that Bowie’s Kantian capitalism concept is pragmatic. “Norm Bowie is one of the intellectual leaders in business ethics. He has demonstrated over many years how to combine scholarship in philosophy and managerial theory.”

Bowie’s body of work argues that a myriad of principles beyond economic values — such as human dignity and rational consistency — should inform business practice and influence managerial decision-making. He also shows that business practices that include these additional values are consistent with sound management theory and that such businesses often are financially successful.

In addition to Freeman, the book features essays by other scholars affiliated with the Olsson Center for Applied Ethics. Olsson Center Senior Fellow Ronald F. Duska, professor emeritus at the American College, contributes an essay entitled “Revisiting the Egoism Question in Business.” Patricia H. Werhane, an Olsson Center senior fellow and Darden professor emeritus, wrote the chapter “Norman Bowie’s Kingdom of Worldly Satisficers,” which examines the intended and unintended effects of Bowie’s arguments. A satisficer chooses options that are acceptable rather than those that are optimal. The authors touch on a number of contemporary themes in business, including topics such as foundations of capitalism, virtue ethics, pragmatism in business ethics, managerial ethics, ethics of high-leverage finance capitalism, corporate social responsibility and sustainability.

Regarding Darden’s role in the world of business ethics, Harris added, “There is no better place than Darden to put together an academic project like this one. Business ethics is a key priority here, and there is a lot of institutional support for it.”

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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