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Morality, Competition, and the FirmThe Market Failures Approach to Business Ethics$
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Joseph Heath

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199990481

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199990481.001.0001

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Efficiency as the Implicit Morality of the Market

Efficiency as the Implicit Morality of the Market

(p.173) 7 Efficiency as the Implicit Morality of the Market
Morality, Competition, and the Firm

Joseph Heath

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the counterintuitive aspect of business ethics as people find it dissipated as to be bereft of normative authority. It first borrows the idea of first, second, and third best normative theory principles from Richard Lipsey and Kevin Lancaster's article “The General Theory of Second Best” where they overturned the assumptions that, when a first-best outcome is unobtainable, the best course of action will be to approximate the conditions required to bring about that outcome. It then clarifies the distinction between ideal and non-ideal theory, and looks into how business ethics is structured by the norms of market economy, which is governed by a set of third-best normative principles where business ethics winds up being so far removed from “the best” giving the impression of being unethical. It also considers business ethics being exercised under non-ideal theory, where individuals fail to do what is morally required of them.

Keywords:   counterintuitive, business ethics, normative theory principles, Richard Lipsey, Kevin Lancaster, The General Theory of Second Best, ideal theory, non-ideal theory

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