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Business is not a Game: The Metaphoric Fallacy


Sport and game metaphors are ubiquitous in the culture and language of business. As evocative linguistic devices, such metaphors are morally neutral; however, if they are indicative of a deep structure of understanding that filters experience, then they have the potential to be ethically problematic. This article argues that there exists a danger for those who forget or confuse metaphor with definition: the metaphoric fallacy. Accordingly, business is like a game, but it is not the equivalent of a game. If business is equated to a game, then the potentially negative implications for ethical content and the application of ethical theories are numerous. This article suggests a fresh approach to issues of contemporary business ethics discourse, by attending to the business-as-game metaphor.

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Correspondence to Maurice Hamington.

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Hamington, M. Business is not a Game: The Metaphoric Fallacy. J Bus Ethics 86, 473–484 (2009).

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  • ethical theories
  • fallacies
  • game metaphors
  • language