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International Journal of Applied Philosophy

Volume 18, Issue 2, Fall 2004

Benedict Sheehy
Pages 231-240

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.

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