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Douglas Rasmussen`s Theory on Norms and Meta Norms on Business Ethics Essay

As an applied field of philosophy, business ethics addresses ethical issues that might occur in daily business operations. In evaluating these issues, it applies ethical principles in weighing decisions and actions in business endeavours. As some scholars have pointed out, business ethics can be interchanged with social responsibility. Generally, business ethics deals with general moral issues that might occur in the running of everyday business processes – including the relationship between the customer and the producer.

The field of study aims at proving answers to questions such as are producers responsible in any way to customers/consumers? Should there be any restraint when it comes to the business of making profits? Is there such concept as “too much” when it comes to profit making? One of the prominent philosophers whose work has had immense impact as far as business ethics is concerned is Douglas Rasmussen. In his book, “Norms of Liberty: A Perfectionist Basis for Non-Perfectionist Politics”, he maintained that business ethics can not stand alone.

“Works in business ethics cannot be expected to deal with more general questions about the ultimate normative dimensions of capitalism, much less with the fundamental nature of morality and moral reasoning” (Rasmussen, 1995). In his idea, capitalism

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has a normative dimension. As he claims, words such as “profit” are normative words as so should be treated as such. “Metanorms are “norms of liberty” that require those with political and legal power to respect individual rights. ” (Beebout, 2006). In Rasmussen’s idea, there is no way we can talk about business ethics without examining the role of individual rights.

“Capitalism is a socioeconomic system based on the recognition of individual rights. It is thus only against the political/legal backdrop provided by individual rights that a moral evaluation of the activities of creating wealth and exchanging goods and services within a capitalist system can be properly made. ” (Rasmussen, 1995). Reference: • Rasmussen, D. (1995) Two Insights for Business Ethics. Retrieved from http://www. thefreemanonline. org/featured/two-insights-for-business-ethics/ on May 7, 2009 • Beabout, G. (2006) Review of: Norms of Liberty: A Perfectionist Basis for Non-Perfectionist Politics. The Catholic Social Science Review

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