Ayn Rand and Business Ethics

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Most traditional systems of business ethics hold that business is essentially amoral or immoral. Such systems share a common assumption: that conflicts of interes. . . read more

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Most traditional systems of business ethics hold that business is essentially amoral or immoral. Such systems share a common assumption: that conflicts of interest—either because of scarce resources or innate human badness or sin—are basic to the human condition. That assumption of fundamental conflict is rejected in Ayn Rand's system of ethics. Rand's system, by contrast, emphasizes the power of human reason to shape one's character and beliefs, and it makes fundamental reason's power to develop new resources and cultivate win-win social relationships. In this essay, Stephen Hicks applies Rand's radical ethical perspective to key issues in business ethics and contrasts it to those perspectives based on the assumption of the amorality or immorality of business. This is essay was first published in the Journal of Accounting, Ethics, and Public Policy, Vol. 3, No. 1 (Winter 2003) pp. 1-26.