The ontological ground of business ethics

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In this article we shall argue that the analysis of the ontology of exchange in which our human life is based, is crucial to understand the place of ethics in the business world. Otherwise, ethics is only seen in a prescriptive or normative way. The normative way of looking to reality is a crystallization of time and history and a distortion of our understanding of human life. As human beings we are social beings and our lives are built by interchanges and interactions of all kinds which presuppose the interplay with others in relations of reciprocal esteem and estimation. The question concerning business and companies does not arise for a lone human being, but only in human beings’ practical interrelations. Our quest is first and foremost to see these interrelations and the specificities of these interrelations in the business world in order to improve our life together. It is important to appreciate these issues clearly because it is only from a deep understanding of reality that we are in a position to assess which practices are to be valued and which are to be kept out of the business world. To do so, my reasoning is based upon the work of Michael Eldred namely his understanding of the phenomenon of the ontology of exchange (whoness/persons) as the structure of social intercourse in contrast to the ontology of production (whaness/things). By sketching the socio ontological outlines of these, it will be possible to see what kind of ethics could the developed in the business world.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7
Pages (from-to)385-408
JournalRevista Portuguesa de Filosofia
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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