Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 127, Issue 4, pp 783–787 | Cite as

Where the Facts End: Richard De George and the Rise of Business Ethics

  • Thomas Donaldson
In the novel, Hard Times, by Charles Dickens, Mr. Gradgrind introduces himself as follows:

“Thomas Gradgrind, sir. A man of realities. A man of fact and calculations. A man who proceeds upon the principle that two and two are four, and nothing over,…. With a rule and a pair of scales, and the multiplication table always in his pocket, sir, ready to weigh and measure any parcel of human nature, and tell you exactly what it comes to.” (Dickens 1869, p. 9)

Not lost on most educated readers of Dicken’s Hard Times is that one of Gradgrind’s two youngest children is named “Malthus” and the other, “Adam Smith.”

When Richard De George published Ethics, Free Enterprise, and Public Policy with Oxford University Press in 1978 (De George and Pichler 1978), academic business research was achieving the zenith of what might be called its “Thomas Gradgrind Stage.” And at that same time the nascent area now known as “business ethics” shifted stage abruptly from egg to larval; it had yet to undergo...


Business Ethic Corporate Governance Business School Harvard Business School Ethical Conviction 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Wharton SchoolUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

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