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What is business?

William Kline

In business ethics the concept of “business” is just as important as “ethics” in determining what businesses ought to do. What business is constrains what it can do. If “ought” implies “can,” then the answer to “What is business?” sets the parameters for what business ought to do. Our problem is that much like “ethics,” there are different theories about, and meanings of, “business.”

In the early seventeenth century, in his Novum Organum (1620), Francis Bacon warned against judgment biases arising from the natural looseness of words. Words mean different things to different people, and this leads to personally biased conclusions as well as fruitless debates as people using the same word are actually talking ...

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