The global financial crisis (GFC) that began in 2007 concentrated attention on the morality of banking and financial activities. Just as mainstream businesses became increasingly defined by their financial performance, banks, it seemed, got themselves – and everyone else – into trouble through an over-emphasis on themselves as commercial enterprises that need pay little attention to traditional banking virtues or ethics. While the GFC had many causes, criticism was legitimately levelled at banks over the ethics of mortgage creation, excessive securitisation, executive remuneration, and high-pressure customer sales tactics, amongst other things. These criticisms mirror those that have been levelled at the business more generally, particular in the last decade, although the backdrop provided by the GFC is more dramatic, and the outcomes of supposed wrongdoing more severe.
This book focuses on business ethics after the GFC; not on the crisis itself, but how we should respond to it. The GFC has focused minds on the proper role of ethics in the understanding and conduct of business activity, but it is essential to look beyond the crisis to address the deeper challenges that it highlights.
The aim of this volume is to present examples of the latest philosophically-informed thinking across a range of ethical issues that relate to business activity, using the banks and the GFC – the consequences of which continue to reverberate – as a point of departure. The book will be of great value to researchers, academics, practitioners, and students interested in business, ethics in general, and business ethics in particular.
Christopher Cowton, James Dempsey and Tom Sorell
2. Is financialisation a vice? Perspectives from virtue ethics and Catholic Social Teaching
Alejo José G. Sison and Ignacio Ferrero
3. On the morality of banking, the exploitation tradition and the new challenges of the global financial crisis
4. How competition harmed banking: the need for a Pelican Gambit
5. Contemporary laws and regulation: an argument for less law, more justice
Ronald Duska and Tara Radin
6. Freedom in finance: the importance of epistemic virtues and interlucent communication
Boudewijn de Bruin and Richard Endörfer
7. Aristotelian lessons after the global financial crisis: banking, responsibility, culture and professional bodies
8. Professional responsibility and the banks
9. Liability for corporate wrongdoing
10. The bankers and the ‘nameless virtue’
11. Moralising economic desert
Alexander Andersson and Joakim Sandberg
Business ethics is a site of contestation, both in theory and practice. For some it serves as a salve for the worst effects of capitalism, giving businesses the means self-regulate away from entrenched tendencies of malfeasance and exploitation. For others business ethics is a more personal matter, concerning the way that individuals can effectively wade through the moral quagmires that characterise so many dimensions of business life. Business ethics has also been conceived of as a fig leaf designed to allow business-as-usual to continue while covering over the less savoury practices so as to create an appearance of righteousness.
Across these and other approaches, what remains critical is to ensure that the ethics of business is the subject of incisive questioning, critical research, and diverse theoretical development. It is through such scholarly inquiry that the increasingly powerful purview of corporations and business activity can be interrogated, understood and, ultimately, reformulated. This series contributes to that goal by publishing the latest research and thinking across the broad terrain that characterised business ethics.
The series welcomes contributions in areas including: corporate social responsibility; critical approaches to business ethics; ethics and corporate governance; ethics and diversity; feminist ethics; globalization and business ethics; philosophical traditions of business ethics; postcolonialism and the ethics of business; production and supply chain ethics; resistance, political activism and ethics; sustainability, environmentalism and climate change; the ethics of corporate misconduct; the politics of business ethics; and worker’s rights.