BUSINESS, ETHICS, AND SOCIETY
WINTER QUARTER 2009
REL 228 – 202/MGT 228 – 202
Prof. Joe Blosser Office: 2333 N. Racine, #103
E-mail: Blosser@uchicago.edu Office Hours: MWF 9:40-10:40
Also by appointment
This course fulfills the Religious Domain
Religious and Ethical Questions Requirement
If you want a business ethics course that will give you a simple rubric for making ethical
decisions or advice on how to avoid being sued, you are in the wrong course. This course is
designed to immerse you in a variety of religious and philosophical ethical models and then
challenge you to develop your own understanding of what it means to be and act in an ethical
manner through a constructive synthesis of these models and your life experience.
This course aims to challenge you to recognize, critique, and reconstruct the ethical resources in
your life though engagement with perspectives similar to and different from your own. Students
should leave this course with the ability to appreciate a wide range of moral approaches to
business and a thick understanding of their own perspective. This will involve not only personal
reflection but also intense study of the different ways one can understand economic and social
situations. Students will especially be challenged to think through the ethical implications of
different business practices and the responsibilities that corporations and individuals share for
particular social issues.
After successfully completing this course, it is hoped a student will be able to:
1. Read and critically engage religious, ethical, economic, and business writings.
2. Write about issues of ethics in business and society in a clear, informed manner.
3. Communicate both verbally and in written form one’s own religious and/or moral
commitments and their bearing on the way one views and acts in business and society.
4. Demonstrate an understanding of religious life and practices through the analytic and
normative treatment of religious ethical systems and through the critical comparison of at
least two religious traditions.
5. Identify explicitly religious modes of thinking, reflecting, acting, and feeling, in their
personal significance and communal dimensions.
6. Demonstrate knowledge of the relationship of religion to the business world, including
issues like corporate accountability, leadership, discrimination, and the environment.
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Required Course Materials (On Reserve at the LPC Library):
O’Brien, Thomas, and Scott Paeth, eds. Religious Perspectives on Business Ethics: An
Anthology. Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 2007.
Stackhouse, Max L., et al., eds. On Moral Business: Classical and Contemporary
Resources for Ethics in Economic Life. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1995.
Course Requirements and Grading:
1. Classroom Participation 15%
This grade includes several elements:
1) Attendance is mandatory and the only way to succeed in this course. You are
allowed two absences without penalty (if you come in after attendance has been
taken, you will be penalized for half an absence), each ensuing absence – no
matter how good your excuse – will result in a 5% reduction of your final grade.
2) You must be prepared for class by completing the assigned reading material
before class begins. I often call on students in class to answer basic reading
questions to ensure that everyone has read. I also expect all students to participate
in class discussions.
3) There will be periodic unannounced quizzes over the reading material.
4) We will often divide into groups during class to analyze texts and case studies.
You are expected to contribute to your group’s discussions.
2. Reflection Papers (x3) 30%
Reflection Papers should be written in the first person (i.e., “I believe…”), but
they are not mere journal entries. Each reflection should be guided by the
questions provided, though it need not answer every question, and present your
position in a clear, concise, and though-provoking manner. These are short papers
so there should be no “filler” (i.e., long quotations or redundant sentences).
In the First Reflection Paper, you should describe the text or saying that has most
influenced your view of morality. When did you first encounter the text or
saying? How was it introduced to you? Who taught it to you and how? If you use
a text, what sections (stories or chapters) of the text most resonate with you?
Why? Give an example from your life of how this text or saying affects the way
you think and act in a difficult situation. 600 Words Due by Jan. 19th at 5 PM.
The Second Reflection Paper should examine the way in which you read a sacred
text. Select a text listed on the Syllabus from the Hebrew or Christian Bible or the
Qur’an and offer your interpretation of it. What did the text mean in its own time?
What does it mean for us today? Is there a difference? Why or why not? It may be
helpful to reference the different ways of reading scripture that we discuss in class
and to locate yourself in a particular form. What role does scripture play in your
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life and/or what role do you see it playing in U.S. culture more broadly? Does
scripture inform the way you understand ethics? Why or why not? Remember,
this is a reflection, not a summary. 600 Words Due by Feb. 4th at 5 PM.
The Third Reflection Paper should compare and contrast your personal
religious/ethical tradition (if you do not identify with any of the traditions we
have discussed, please speak with me) with another tradition we cover in class.
Traditions include: Jewish, Catholic/Virtue, Protestant, Islamic, Kantian/Rights,
and Utilitarian. After we have read and discussed the traditions you want to
compare and contrast write about how your tradition informs your life. That is,
how do the characteristics and themes of this tradition appear in your actions and
decisions? Give a personal example of a difficult decision you have made and
how your religious/ethical tradition affected that decision. Then compare and
contrast this tradition with a second that is not your own. What strengths do you
perceive in the other tradition? How does it challenge your own? What does it
make you reconsider, if anything? Conclude with a brief statement of where you
ethically locate yourself given the models we covered. 600 Words Due by Feb.
20th at 5 PM.
IMPORTANT: Papers must have one inch margins all around, be double-spaced,
and written in a Times Roman font. You should be within 10 words of the stated
limit. Business and professional writing often requires strict adherence to word
limits. This course intends to help you prepare to meet those demands. These
papers should be submitted via Blackboard as soon as they can be completed –
you do not need to wait for the deadline. Papers must be submitted in
Microsoft Word (.doc), text or rich text (.txt or .rtf) formats, or as a PDF file.
DO NOT SUBMIT YOUR PAPER IN .DOCX OR WINDOWS VISTA
FORM (to convert any file to a PDF file for free go to www.cutepdf.com). Once
in Blackboard, attach your assignment file from your computer, type something in
the “Comments” section, and then click the Submit (not save) button.
3. Mid-Term Exam 20%
This will be an in-class, closed book, multiple choice and short answer
examination covering the different religious/ethical models presented in the first
half of the course. February 9th.
4. Analysis Paper 15%
This will be a formal academic paper that makes an argument for or against the
social responsibility of the corporation. More specific instructions will be handed
out after the Mid-term. Students will be expected to use the ethical models from
the first part of the course to develop their position on the responsibility that
businesses and individuals in business have to society at large. 1000 Words Due
on March 4th at 5 PM.
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5. Final Exam 20%
This exam will involve two essay questions, which will be provided to you one
week before the exam is due. You are encouraged to use your class notes and
other resources to answer these questions, but you are NOT allowed to consult
other people for answers. The 1000-1500 word exam must be submitted via
Blackboard in an approved format at the end of the class’s allotted final
exam time. Remember you must attach the file, type something in the
“Comments” section, and then click the Submit (not save) button to ensure your
exam goes through.
REL 228 – 202/MGT 228 – 202
FINAL EXAM DUE BY MONDAY, MARCH 16 AT 11:00 AM
Required Readings, Writing Assignments, and Grades are located on Blackboard.
You must use Blackboard to succeed in this course.
*THIS SYLLABUS IS OPEN TO REVISION AND IS POSTED ON BLACKBOARD*
REL/MGT 228 5
Wednesday Religion in Business Ethics? O’Brien and Paeth, eds., On
Jan. 7 Monopoly in Business Ethics, pp. 35-
Fort, Prophets, Profits, and Peace, pp.
Friday The Use of Scripture in Ethics Schweiker, “On Religious Ethics,” in
Jan. 9 Blackwell Companion to Religious
Ethics, ed. by Schweiker, pp. 1-15
Friedman, “Biblical Foundations of
Business Ethics” (online)
Blank, “What Does the Bible Say
About Economics” (online)
Monday NO CLASS
Wednesday NO CLASS
Friday Jewish Ethics Genesis 1:1-2:3
Jan.16 Exodus 6:2-9; 20
Stackhouse, et al., eds., pp. 56-62
Maimonides, Laws Concerning
Character Traits, pp. 27-58 (online)
Monday Jewish Ethics in Practice Leviticus 25
Jan. 19 Proverbs 10:4
Case Study: Agriprocessors Ecclesiastes 5:18-20
Amos 4:1-4; 5:10-24
*First Reflection Due*
5:00 PM Siegel, “A Jewish View of Economic
Justice,” in Business, Religion, and
Ethics, ed. by Donald Jones, pp. 89-98
Stackhouse, et al., eds., pp. 67-68
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Wednesday Catholic/Virtue Ethics Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica
Jan. 21 IaIIae, qq. 54-55, 61-62, 90-95
Friday Catholic Ethics in Practice Matthew 20:1-16
Jan.23 Luke 12:13-40
Case Study: DePaul University Acts 2:43-47; 4:32-5:11
I Timothy 6:3-19
Stackhouse, et al., eds.,:
-- Pope John Paul II, Centesimus
Annus, pp. 483-495
-- Bishops’ Pastoral Letter,
“Economic Justice for All,” pp. 435-
Monday Protestant Ethics Matthew 25:1-46
Jan. 26 Luke 12:41-48
Stackhouse, et al., eds.,:
-- Wesley, “The Use of Money,” pp.
-- Luther, “Trade and Usury,” pp. 173-
-- Calvin, “The Moral Law,” pp. 180-
Luther, “On Freedom of a Christian”
Calvin, Institutes of the Christian
Wednesday Protestant Ethics in Practice Matthew 19:16-30
Case Study: Chick-fil-A Stackhouse, et al., eds.:
-- Weber, “The Protestant Ethic…,”
-- Ryken, “Work as Stewardship,” pp.
-- Lutheran Statement on “Economic
Justice,” pp. 429-434 or the UCC
Statement on “Christian Faith and
Economic Life,” pp. 453-468
-- Villars Statement, pp. 469-472
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Friday Islamic Ethics Qur’an Surah 1, 104-114, 17 (online)
Stackhouse, et al., eds., pp. 357-62
Sachedina, “Human Vicegerency,” in
Humanity Before God, ed. by
Schweiker, Johnson, and Jung, pp. 31-
Monday Islamic Ethics in Practice Stackhouse, et al., eds., pp. 363-369
Case Study: Islamic Bank of Britain al-Hibri, “Divine Justice and the
Human Order,” in Humanity Before
God, ed. by Schweiker, Johnson, and
Jung, pp. 238-255 (online)
Wednesday Kantian/Rights-Based Ethics Kant, “Perpetual Peace,” First
Feb. 4 Supplement, Appendix I & II (online)
*Second Reflection Due*
Friday Kantian Ethics in Practice Stackhouse, et al., eds., pp. 225-230
Wednesday Adam Smith and the Moral Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments, in
Feb. 11 Foundations of Capitalism, I The Essential Adam Smith, ed. by
Robert Heilbroner, pp. 64-77, 104-109
Friday Adam Smith and the Moral Smith, Wealth of Nations, in The
Feb. 13 Foundations of Capitalism, II Essential Adam Smith, ed. by Robert
Heilbroner, pp. 158-171, 283-284,
Monday J.S. Mill and Utilitarianism Mill, Utilitarianism, Ch. 2 (online)
Beauchamp and Bowie, eds., Ethical
Theory and Business, pp. 16-22
Wednesday The Chicago School and the Stigler, Economist as Preacher, pp.
Feb. 18 Shareholder Theory 24-26, 35-37 (online)
Friedman, “The Social Responsibility
of Business Is To Increase Its Profits”
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Friday Stakeholder Theory Beauchamp and Bowie, eds., Ethical
Feb. 20 Theory and Business, pp. 55-64
*Third Reflection Due*
5:00 PM Phillips, “Some Key Questions About
Stakeholder Theory,” pp. 1-4 (online)
Stackhouse, et al., eds., pp. 514-531
Monday Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Beauchamp and Bowie, eds., Ethical
Feb. 23 in Practice Theory and Business, pp. 65-74
O’Brien and Paeth, eds., “Potential for
Building Covenants in Business
Corporations,” pp. 237-258
Wednesday Religion in CSR: Greed, Idolatry, and Childs, Greed, pp. 1-13 (online)
Feb. 25 the Other
McCloskey, Bourgeois Virtues, pp.
Stackhouse, et al., eds., pp. 297-300,
Friday The Purpose of Business Camenisch, “Business Ethics: On
Feb. 27 Getting to the Heart of the Matter,” in
Case Study: Tobacco and CSR Business, Religion, and Ethics, ed. by
Donald Jones, pp. 195-205 (online)
“Smartest Guys in the Room”
Screening in the Afternoon May, Beleaguered Rulers, pp. 129-
Monday Corporate Ethos Arendt, “Eichmann in Jerusalem,” pp.
March 2 36-55, 277-279, 287-290 (online)
“Smartest Guys in the Room”
Screening in the Afternoon Stackhouse, et al., eds., pp. 617-620
Wednesday Ethics in Your Business Life Stackhouse, et al., eds., pp. 533-556,
March 4 692-700
*Analysis Paper Due*
Friday Leadership Heifetz, Leadership Without Easy
March 6 Answers, pp. 1-28 (online)
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West, Race Matters, pp. 35-46
Monday CSR and Environment O’Brien and Paeth, eds., “How Green
March 9 is Judaism?” pp. 259-276
Case Study: New Belgium Brewery
Stackhouse, et al., eds., “How Green
is Our Gospel?” pp. 853-859
Beauchamp and Bowie, eds., Ethical
Theory and Business, pp. 222-237
Wednesday CSR and Discrimination Shaw and Lee, eds., Women’s Voices,
March 11 pp. 78-86, 331-337 (online)
Beauchamp and Bowie, eds., Ethical
Theory and Business, pp. 331-342
Friday Conclusion: On Vocation O’Brien and Paeth, eds.,
March 13 “Introduction,” pp. 17-31
Palmer, Let Your Life Speak, Chs. 1
and 2 (online)
March 16 *FINAL EXAM DUE 11:00 AM*
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(See the Undergraduate Student Handbook for more information)
To be frank, plagiarism is stealing. It may not have been what God intended with the eighth
commandment, but the penalty for breaking it is almost as steep. The first time I catch you
plagiarizing you will receive an automatic “F” for the assignment and must provide proof that
you have visited the Center for Writer-Based Learning for all ensuing writing assignments or you
will fail the course. The second time I catch you, you will receive an F for the course. Period.
Papers taken off the internet are easy to find (I too can use Google, plus DePaul provides anti-
plagiarism software to faculty). However, most instances of plagiarism are not intentional, and
here is where you must be careful because ignorance is not an acceptable excuse. As a college
student, you are expected to know what constitutes plagiarism and how to avoid it. I am happy to
help if you have questions and you are encouraged to utilize the resources of the Center for
Writer-Based Learning (http://condor.depaul.edu/~writing).
This course is bound by the definitions and procedures for dealing with plagiarism and other
issues of academic integrity outlined in the DePaul University Undergraduate Student Handbook
(https://robin.depaul.edu/aib/AIStudents.html), which reads:
“Plagiarism is a major form of academic dishonesty involving the presentation of the work of
another as one's own. Plagiarism includes but is not limited to the following:
a. The direct copying of any source, such as written and verbal material, computer
files, audio disks, video programs or musical scores, whether published or
unpublished, in whole or part, without proper acknowledgement that it is someone
b. Copying of any source in whole or part without proper acknowledgement.
c. Submitting as one's own work a report, examination paper, computer file, lab
report or other assignment that has been prepared by someone else. This includes
research papers purchased from any other person or agency.
d. The paraphrasing of another's work or ideas without proper acknowledgement”
Check out these helpful sites to understand plagiarism better:
The University Policy on grading reads:
“Following is the key to the system of evaluating the academic achievement by the
student of the educational objectives specified by the instructor in the course syllabus. These
definitions apply to the straight letter grade. A plus grade represents slightly higher achievement
than the straight letter grade. A minus grade represents slightly lower
achievement than the straight letter grade.
REL/MGT 228 11
A The instructor judged the student to have accomplished the stated objectives
of the course in an EXCELLENT manner.
B The instructor judged the student to have accomplished the stated objectives of the
course in a VERY GOOD manner.
C The instructor judged the student to have accomplished the stated objectives
of the course in a SATISFACTORY manner.
D The instructor judged the student to have accomplished the stated objectives of the
course in a POOR manner. (A grade of D will not fulfill the requirements in a major field
F The instructor judged the student NOT to have accomplished the stated
objectives of the course”
Though unofficial the following guidelines may add some clarity to my understanding of what
constitutes “Excellent,” “Very Good,” Satisfactory,” and “Poor” work.
A student will receive an “A” on work that illustrates incisive critical thinking. This work
will demonstrate a clear grasp of the core material and offer creative insights into the ethical
problems and approaches at hand. To deserve an “A,” a student must offer a careful analysis and
evaluation of the material, offering his or her own perspective and arguing for its validity. This
work will be free of grammatical and structural errors and will be properly and thoroughly
footnoted. (A- = 90-93%; A = 94-100%)
A student will receive a “B” when he or she has demonstrated competency in the course
material. This student’s thesis and evaluation will not be as strong as work that receives an “A,”
but he or she will have a working, if weak, thesis and offer some analytical insights into the
material. This work will have some grammatical errors but the overall structure of the argument
will be coherent. (B- = 80-83%; B = 84-87%; B+ = 88-89%)
A student will receive a “C” if it appears he or she has a minimal grasp of the course
material. Work that receives a “C” fails to demonstrate the author’s voice in a clear and
compelling manner. “C” work evidences substantial grammatical and structural flaws as well as
errors and omissions in the author’s argument. (C- = 70-73%; C = 74-77%; C+ = 78-79%)
A student will receive a “D” if he or she shows some effort in completing the assignment.
The work will not constitute acceptable collegiate level work as it will lack clarity, accuracy, and
insight. The receipt of a “D” on any assignment should be cause for concern and the student
should immediately schedule office hours with me. (D- = 60-63%; D = 64-67%; D+ = 68-69%)
A student will receive an “F” when his or her work does not demonstrate a concerted
effort to meet the course objectives and requirements or no work is submitted. (F = 50%, if
something is submitted; F = 0%, if no work is turned in)
Believe it or not, sexism is embedded in the very fabric of our language. It is part of my ethical
commitment as a teacher to help students recognize, reflect on, and then eliminate sexism in their
use of language. This includes, but is not limited to, avoiding the use of the gender-specific
personal pronoun “he” in cases where the gender of the antecedent is unknown (e.g., I use the
phrase “he or she” when referring to a student in this syllabus because a particular student could
be either male or female). It also means being intentional about the kinds of examples one uses –
men are not the only participants in the business world. Students should also be aware that if they
REL/MGT 228 12
choose to refer to God with a gender-specific pronoun then they must supply a footnote
explaining why this particular choice has been made. Many of our authors wrote before the
presence and danger of sexism in language was understood. While you must use these sources in
your work, you must not continue their sexist use of language. If you have questions on how to
properly write with gender-inclusive language, please ask.
CENTER FOR WRITER-BASED LEARNING
One of the objectives of this course is to improve the student’s ability to write in a clear,
informed manner. To this end, a student will receive an additional 5% on his or her assignment
grade (up to a total of 100% for the assignment) for each writing assignment in which the student
meets with a consultant (in person) at the Writing Center AT LEAST 24 HOURS BEFORE
THE ASSIGNMENT IS DUE and requests that the consultant notify me of the visit. I must have
confirmation from the Writing Center of your visit, and they can only inform me if you ask. I
prefer to be notified via email. You can schedule your appointment online. The only assignment
to which this does not apply is the Final Exam. You may not consult the Writing Center (or
anyone else for that matter) on the Final.
Except in cases of extreme emergency, a student will be penalized one letter grade (for example,
an “A” will become a “B”) on an assignment for each day after the deadline that it is submitted.
After four days all work will receive an “F.” Remember an “F” may still receive a 50% but an
unsubmitted assignment is a 0%. It is still to your benefit to turn in an “F” paper.
IMPORTANT: All assignments will be posted on Blackboard and papers must be turned
in on Blackboard. Papers are considered late one minute after the stated deadline. Thus, if the
deadline for a paper is 5:00 PM, the paper will be considered late and be docked 10% at 5:01
PM. The deadline should be treated as the last possible minute in which you can turn in a paper.
These are VERY difficult to receive. I do not grant them except in the most extraordinary of
circumstances. If you do not ask for an incomplete and have one approved in writing before the
Due Date of the Final Exam your course grade will reflect whatever assignments you have
completed at that time. Please see the Student Handbook for the Official University Policy.
It is expected that all members of the class arrive promptly as you would for a day of work. A
good classroom environment demands that all students be invested in the learning process. Even
one distracted student texting on his or her phone or falling asleep in class can disrupt the
learning of the entire class. So please silence your cell phones and make it a personal challenge
to see if you can go our entire time together without texting anyone during class. If phone calls
or texting become a nuisance, I will ask those involved to leave the room, and you will receive
an absence for the day. Let your full attention be on the class discussions and material. If you let
it, this class may just change the way your see yourself, your vocation, and the world!