v4n1 Layman on Brennan and Jaworski

Daniel_Layman“Expressive Objections to Markets: Normative, Not Symbolic” by Daniel Layman

A COMMENTARY ON Jason Brennan and Peter Jaworski (2015), “Markets Without Symbolic Limits,” Ethics 125(4): 1053–1077

Jason Brennan and Peter Jaworski reject expressive objections to markets on the grounds that (1) market symbolism is culturally contingent, and (2) contingent cultural symbols are less important than the benefits markets offer. I grant (1) and (2), but I deny that these points suffice as grounds to dismiss expressive critiques of markets. For many plausible expressive critiques of markets are not symbolic critiques at all. Rather, they are critiques grounded in the idea that some market transactions embody morally inappropriate normative stances toward the goods or services on offer.

To download the full PDF, click here: Layman on Brennan and Jaworski.

Welcome to Volume 4

Welcome to 2016, and to Volume 4 of the Business Ethics Journal Review. Volume 4 signals that we are now in our 4th year of publication. The fact that our experiment in shaking up academic business ethics publication is still running at this point is encouraging, in an era in which online publishing still hasn’t entirely taken hold in academia.

2015 saw a number of exciting events for BEJR. In early 2015, the editors founded the Journal Review Foundation, a non-profit corporation that now acts as BEJR’s publisher. This move helps to ensure a stable future for BEJR, and provides a legal entity to own BEJR’s intellectual property in perpetuity. The Foundation also provides a framework within which to expand activities beyond BEJR. Within the next month, the Foundation will be publishing a book (a collection of essays on social justice), and we are currently in talks regarding starting a second journal.

The editors also founded, in March of 2015, Business Ethics Highlights, a news and opinion aggregator, which has so far received tremendous feedback. In order to highlight how useful BEH could be in the classroom, we also published two relevant guides: “How Instructors Can Use Business Ethics Highlights” and “How Students Can Use Business Ethics Highlights.”

2015 also marked our first formal appearance at the annual meeting of the Society for Business Ethics. The Journal Review Foundation (and naturally BEJR) had a table in the “book room” at SBE, and co-editor Chris MacDonald used the opportunity to hand out printed copies of BEJR commentaries and to explain BEJR’s distinctive model to attendees.

So far, it looks like 2016 is off to a good start: the editors have a number of items in the pipeline, and our first Commentary of the year — a commentary on a recently-published book — will go online within a week. So stay tuned!

Call for Commentaries on BEQ’s “Best Articles 2014”

we_want_you_design_poster_2013_v2The Business Ethics Journal Review (BEJR), a venture in 21st century academic publishing, is inviting fresh submissions.

BEJR publishes refereed commentaries—short essays of up to 2000 words addressing critically an aspect of a recently published business ethics journal article or book.

The Editors are especially interested in inviting commentaries aimed at the winner of, and finalists for, the Business Ethics Quarterly “Best Article 2014” prize. Those articles are:

Interested in submitting a commentary for peer review? Please see our instructions for authors, or feel free to contact the editors, at editors@businessethicsjournalreview.com


v3n4: Hühn on Bevan and Werhane

Matthias_Huehn“Adam Smith: 18th Century Sentimentalist or 20th Century Rationalist?” by Matthias Hühn

A COMMENTARY ON “The Inexorable Sociality of Commerce: The Individual and Others in Adam Smith,” by David Bevan and Patricia Werhane (J Bus Ethics 127(2)(2015): 327–335).
David Bevan and Patricia Werhane try to enlist Adam Smith’s support in countering the neoclassical narrative in business ethics and CSR. While I applaud their goal and also completely agree with their argument that Smith has been radically misinterpreted by the economics mainstream, I am not completely in agreement with how they argue. In short, I believe they also have uprooted Adam Smith and transformed him in parts into a 20th century philosopher. The 18th century Adam Smith would be a much more powerful advocate for ethics in business if he were accepted as the very eclectic 18th century philosopher that he was.

To download the full PDF, click here: Hühn on Bevan and Werhane.

v3n3: Lovett on May et al. on Business Ethics Education

Steven_Lovett“Evaluating a New Field of Research About the Influence of Business Ethics Education,” by Steven Lovett

A COMMENTARY ON “The Influence of Business Ethics Education on Moral Efficacy, Moral Meaningfulness, and Moral Courage: A Quasi-Experimental Study,” by Douglas R. May, Matthew T. Luth, and Catherine E. Schwoerer (J Bus Ethics 124(1) (2014): 67–80).


Douglas May, Matthew Luth, and Catherine Schwoerer identify and study an area that lacks empirical research, namely the effectiveness of teaching, and learning, business ethics, corporate social responsibility, and sustainability. The authors assess whether courses that teach ethical decision-making in business settings positively influence students’ moral efficacy, moral meaningfulness, and moral courage. Their findings demonstrate increases in the ethics education treatment group’s outcomes for each of the three variables. This experimental data is encouraging, but the definitional subjectivity of each variable, and the unique effects of various methods of instruction, should provide motivation for further research efforts.

To download the full PDF, click here: Lovett on May, Luth, and Schwoerer.

v3n2: Ohreen and Silovs on Pavlovich and Krahnke


Jim_Silovs_3“The Science of Creating Organizational Connectedness,” by David Ohreen and Jim Silovs

A COMMENTARY ON “Empathy, Connectedness and Organisation,” by Kathryn Pavlovich and Keiko Krahnke (J Bus Ethics 105(1) (2012): 131–137).

Pavlovich and Krahnke’s inclusion of neurological and psychological evidence to support organizational connectedness should be lauded. Unfortunately, we suggest a more fine-grained reading of the literature does not support their claim that empathy is critical to dissolving boundaries between employees and increasing altruism.

To download the full PDF, click here: Ohreen and Silovs on Pavlovich and Krahnke.

v3n1: Khan on Steinbauer et al. on Leadership Ethics

Shazia_Khan“The Merits of Self-Leadership” by Shazia Rehman Khan

A COMMENTARY ON “Ethical Leadership and Followers’ Moral Judgment: The Role of Followers’ Perceived Accountability and Self-leadership,” by Steinbauer et al (J Bus Ethics 120(3) (2014): 381-392).

Abstract: Steinbauer et al. (2014) examine how ethical leadership leads to improved moral judgment, and the role of followers’ perceived accountability and self-leadership. In this Commentary, I offer two critiques. First, I argue that the relationship that Steinbauer et al. propose between ethical leadership and self-leadership contains internal contradictions. Second, I argue that ethical leadership can have undesirable consequences for moral judgment and that self-leadership requires substantial freedom from an external authority. Thus, my arguments focus on Steinbauer et al.’s understanding of self-leadership and moral judgment in relation to ethical leadership.

To download the full PDF, click here: Khan on Steinbauer et al.


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