Corporate ethics has occupied the attention of business communities in predominantly market economies worldwide.
Unfortunately, however, most of this attention has not been accompanied by serious historical understanding of concepts and ideas. Apart from superficial and obligatory references to the writings of Max Weber, Immanuel Kant and John Mill, there has been little attempt to discuss the historical roots of capitalism as an ethical system.
Over the past few decades with the world becoming increasingly more polluted and resource-strapped and consequently less productive, and with the peoples of various nations becoming more politicized and future-oriented-the ethics of global capitalism has evolved as a target for criticism and debate. The moral and social shortcomings of lawyers, accountants, managers and businessmen have been noted with mounting skepticism and dislike. The toll that business has taken on the fragile bonds and structures of society and the environment is now being questioned.
The primary question appears to be whether an economic system driven by self-interest can be truly ethical.