Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 99, Issue 1, pp 37–49

Ethics and Economics: Towards a New Humanistic Synthesis for Business


DOI: 10.1007/s10551-011-0747-7

Cite this article as:
Grassl, W. & Habisch, A. J Bus Ethics (2011) 99: 37. doi:10.1007/s10551-011-0747-7


The Encyclical-Letter Caritas in Veritate by Pope Benedict XVI suggests to advance towards a new conceptualization of the tenuous relationship between economics and ethics, proposing a “new humanistic synthesis.” Where social encyclicals have traditionally justified policy proposals by natural law and theological reasoning alone, Caritas in Veritate gives great relevance to economic arguments. The encyclical defines the framework for a new business ethics which appreciates allocative and distributive efficiency, and thus both markets and institutions as improving the human condition, but locates their source and reason outside the economic sphere. It places a clear accent on the ontological connectedness of the economic and ethical dimensions of human action. It is the proper ordering of means towards the end of integral human development that allows mankind to leave a vicious circle of consumerism and enter a virtuous circle that applies the creativity fostered by markets. This vision implies a new model of business management that integrates considerations of vocation, purpose, and values at a theological level.


Caritas in VeritateCatholic social thoughtbusiness ethicseconomic efficiencyhumanism in managementpapal encyclicals

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.St. Norbert CollegeDe PereU.S.A.
  2. 2.Katholische Universität Eichstätt-IngolstadtIngolstadtGermany