Volume 18, Issue 2, Fall 2004
The Challenge of Objectivist Ethics
Ethical Thinking in Business, Rationalism, and Ayn Rand
Few people think of business ethics as being addressed outside of main-stream business ethics, philosophy and corporate social responsibility circles. This view is in error. Arguably the most prominent philosopher of the last century, Ayn Rand, has provided a philosophy of business that is satisfying to many people, not the least of which is Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan. Rand’s philosophy suggests that self-interested behaviour is not merely an economic modeling of human behaviour, but an ethical imperative. To professional philosophers, Rand is naïve and unsatisfying; however, that does not diminish her appeal to the less sophisticated. After a review of Rand’s great popular appeal, the article then moves on to some of the main points of her philosophy, offers a critique of those points and then encourages a more serious analysis of Rand’s philosophy, particularly for those teaching and consulting on ethics.