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Journal of Business Ethics Education

Volume 9, 2012

Claus Strue Frederiksen
Pages 193-214

The Presentation of Utilitarianism within the Field of Business Ethics

This article presents a discussion of the presentation of utilitarianism in textbooks and research articles within the field of business ethics. My objective is twofold. First, I will demonstrate that the presentation of utilitarianism, by a substantial number of prominent business ethicists, is characterized by a lack of precision and includes faulty descriptions. In this regard, I focus on presentations of utilitarianism in relation to distributive principles and on the demanding nature of utilitarianism. Second, I will demonstrate that these imprecise and faulty presentations result in a misguided critique of utilitarianism and dubious conclusions within the field of business ethics. Here, I will discuss and reject conclusions regarding utilitarianism and its relation to capitalism, the claim that utilitarianism is not much more sophisticated than a simple majority vote and that utilitarianism is in accordance with harmful actions such as bribery and child labor.

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