Logo handbook corporate social responisbility
logo ethics workshop
Pace University Link
Contact tab space
Theories of corporate social responsibility
Pure Marketplace Ethics Libertarian Marketplace
(Shareholder Theory)
Social Marketplace
(Shareholder Theory)
Shared Value Stakeholder Theory - Soft Progressive Corporate Social Responsibility Triple Bottom Line / Sustainability Stakeholder Theory - Hard
Theories of corporate social responsibility distributed across tensions
Social and
Environmental Engagement
Freedom versus Happiness Individualism versus Collectivism Independence versus Belonging Dignity
versus Compassion
Libertarian Marketplace Ethics
  Overview What's good ethically is doing well economically, within the law.  


Respect for laws, regulations and commonly accepted codes for operation.


Gear decisions to the economic rules of the marketplace.

Decisions checked for compliance with letter (and potentially with the spirit) of applicable laws, regulations and accepted practices.

  Key concepts

Ethics becomes the pursuit of economic opportunities within legal and regulatory boundaries.

Libertarian advocates of Marketplace Ethics build arguments on the principle of individual freedom and dignity.

(Social and environmental initiatives hold no value independent of business activity and are not recognized from within business activity).

Social obligations and initiatives, like environmental ones, are better handled by non-profit organizations specialized in the area of concern, or by fundamentally social institutions including government.

The invisible hand: the argument that businesses seeking profit in their field of expertise ultimately do more good for society generally than businesses distracted by philanthropy, corporate social responsibility and similar apparently noble initiatives. While this argument can be useful in discussion, the ethics does not depend on its veracity: even if the idea of the invisible hand is proven untrue, the basic ethics remain unchanged.

Companies may seek to do good in the world, but only because profit opportunities lie along the way. Being socially responsible is understood as just another tool for the construction of profitability.

  Hard questions

How should ambiguous laws and regulations be interpreted?

What non-legal norms and codes will be honored and to what degree? (Example: Will sugar-bomb cereals be advertised at children?)

How, and to what extent does society as a whole benefit when businesses narrowly pursue their own bottom-line welfare?


Many start-ups and small businesses

The typical private client wealth management service


Walmart (pre-Michael Duke)

Harley Davidson

What happens in Vegas...

Apple, according to Forbes

Apple, according to National Review

  Prime philosophical theory compatibilities

Rights theory, Libertarianism, Rational egoism. Also utilitarianism under conceptions of economic growth colored by the invisible hand. For example, the profit drive resulting in the creation of socially beneficial beauty. Critically, the social benefits are not the cause, only the effect of libertarian distinctions between right and wrong.

  Human values

Strong respect for autonomy, freedom, rights of the individual

Inherent dignity of the individual, entrepreneurship, "the self-made" man/woman.

Respect for others without patronization; refusal to pity others.

Acceptance of formalized collective social institutions, frequently as grounded in self-interest (contract notions of social organization).

Because the idea of community - and so notions of community standards and similar - generate from individuality (as opposed to individuals finding their own place within a pre-established collective), this ethical outlook is more likely than collective-centered frameworks to produce non-conformist ideas or ones that flaunt social conventions regarding truth-telling and similar.
Example 1: Rula Lenska, the international celebrity everyone was supposed to know (and who no one had ever heard of).

Example 2: The most interesting man alive
dos equis most interesting man alive

  Associated notable figures Adam Smith, Friedrich Hayek, Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, Robert Nozick, The Cato Institute  
  Branding connect

Goldman: Progress is Everyone's Business campaign,

Bank of America Opportunity campaign

Levi's: Go Forth,

E*Trade: Solitary

Ford: No Bailout

iPad2: Learn

  Branding alteration The Indian Point nuclear plant near NYC is being branded by Entergy as environmentally friendly. After Japan, this is a hard sell. They may do better discussing the entrepreneurial advantages of low cost power for innovative New Yorkers  
© Ethics Workshop