Forces of the market to immorality?

What happens when economic actors are caught in a dilemma situation in which you have to choose between morale and success in the market?

What must an entrepreneur, he would like to the market with verkaufsför which measures the “edit”, in order to increase the market probability of success?

The numerous market related measures are therefore necessary, because of the competition, the suppliers in a market, “under penalty of Ruin” ferrule, maximize profit , and even with the help of ethically questionable means. A competitor could be economic advantages to gain by immoral, then the others are forced to follow this bad example, to avoid any risk of economic loss. The provider in a competitive economy could (and should) not profit, take loss, if you did not want to risk the demise of the company. For this reason, an individual morality of economic agents, in particular, the entrepreneur or Manager in their capacity as business leaders is, in part, held to be impossible, and the morality exclusively and systematically in the rules of the game the regulatory framework, especially the legislation, are located. These rules of the game are, in fact, for all providers equally authentic, so that an exploitation-particularly moral actors impossible


Now you can safely doubt whether the moral conduct of the provider necessary “to the detriment of efficiency,” and if then equal to the economic Ruin into the house. In General, companies can also live with the Gain below the “maximum” (whatever you want to quantify that accurately). Even in the case of income losses from moral considerations (eg. if a large trading company tropical wood article from environmental considerations from the assortment takes) is usually not directly to the demise of the company. In addition, the possibility that morality is Acting to be a competitive advantage, for example is always. as consumers or investors ethical considerations in their purchase or investment decision.

But even if you can certainly not claim that ethically correct Action automatically to economic Ruin leads, so you can ask yourself, what happens if this is the case.


A producer of chocolate, feels obliged to the cocoa suppliers fairly and that means significantly above the market price to pay the prices for the raw material. Of course the final product without changing the taste quality is more expensive, and thereby. Further, it is assumed that consumers base their consumption decisions on the price and with comparable taste and quality of the cheaper chocolate to buy. Presumably, the fair’s producer had been then, indeed, soon losses of profit and turnover and would, perhaps, pushed entirely out of the market.

This is the ideal-typical Situation of a economic dilemma, in which morality and economic success negatively correlated. Is committed by the producer then still goes to the Fairness to the suppliers? If you generalize, you can ask: What happens in a Situation in which moral Action with the self-interest collides and the Good will not be happy?

  • According to Kant, languages duty ethics would have to reply that it is the moral obligation no matter whether you are also happy. You must for example. also be honest, if you harm on your own. The note on the profit loss would therefore have no significance for the validity of a moral obligation.
  • The teleological ethics , however, would the possible bad consequences of a Collapse in the balance of Goods. Such bad consequences, for example. the loss of jobs, loss of taxes, the satisfaction of creditors, less competition due to elimination of a provider. These bad consequences would have to be offset with the good consequences for the producers of raw materials. It is taken into account so that it can simultaneously provide different obligations, which conflict in part. It would then be a matter of a weighing of Consequences, whether committed to the entrepreneur, in spite of the loss of profits for the moral, to pay its suppliers fairly.
  • For the moral economists , by contrast, seems absolutely no obligation to comply with ethical standards to pass, as soon as this with the economic disadvantages for the connected. The dilemma of the situation suggest the validity of the standards and there could be no ethical justification for the standards, the permanent economic disadvantage to be moved. Because the market is forcing the provider to immorality, is spoken by the individual provider by the moral Economics of the obligation to act morally, as long as other providers can take advantage of this behavior for their economic interests.

From an ethical point of view, the moral and economic Position is not tenable, to make the binding force of a moral Norm of their compatibility with the profit interest of the entrepreneur. It was never a valid excuse for wrong behavior, for others to do the same, and the Survival of a company is not the highest value. But what is wrong, make sure bad examples ruin the morals, and that the impression that is Honest will always be the Stupid shattered morality.

Not in terms of the validity of the standards, but in terms of their enforceability, it is appropriate, therefore, to avoid such dilemma situations between morale and success in the market if possible.

This post is an excerpt from the new book on corporate ethics.

Zwingt der Markt zur Unmoral?How can be implemented the business ethics as a Management responsibility? A stronger orientation of the corporate guide on the guiding principle of a life-serving economy is more and more demanded. Elisabeth Gödel discusses the philosophical foundations of ethics and clarifies the relationship of ethics and Economics. The focus is on the institutionalisation of ethics is on the level of the individual company.

>> Link to book

>> Link to the Service book

>> Link to the slides for lecturers

>> Link to the editorial

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *