In much of the literature on business ethics and corporate social responsibility, it is more or less taken for granted that attempts to maximize profits are inherently unethical. The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether an ethical argument can be given in support of profit maximizing behaviour. It is argued that some form of consequential ethics must be applied, and that both profit seeking and profit maximization can be defended from a rule-consequential point of view. It is noted, however, that the result does not apply unconditionally, but requires that certain form of profit (and utility) maximizing actions are ruled out, e.g., by behavioural norms or formal institutions.
Society and Business Review, 2010, Vol 5, Issue 3, p. 270-280
Business ethics; Corporate social responsibility; Ethics; Friedman, Milton; Institutional analysis; Profit maximization