Premodernity and modernity
First, this chapter distinguishes between an ethics of individual behavior that focuses on the individual’s actions and an ethics of conditions that focuses on the circumstances under which the individual is supposed to act. It is emphasized that much of today’s ethics was developed against the background of premodern societies, which implies the absence of economic growth and a high social control, both of which are in stark contrast to modern conditions. The ethical benefits of markets and competition are outlined. The market is interpreted as an instrument for the use of distributed and local knowledge, a method of discovery, an engine of innovation, a control mechanism, and an instrument of disempowerment and of self-discipline. Traditional concepts of business ethics are illustrated by the historical examples of the just price and the prohibition of lending money at interest.
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