Towards a Postmodern Understanding of Business Ethics

  • Minka WoermannEmail author
Part of the Issues in Business Ethics book series (IBET, volume 37)


In this chapter, a postmodern ethics is introduced as an alternative to the primarily modernist normative basis of business ethics. The study supports an affirmative view of postmodernism, in which value judgements are deemed possible, despite not being universally justifiable. In fact, the description provided of postmodernism in this chapter serves to discredit universalism by drawing attention to the provisional, reflexive, contingent, and emergent nature of meaning and knowledge. On a postmodern reading, it is impossible to defend the rigid fact-value distinction (which also divides the fields of business ethics) because – according to this reading – ethics can neither be grounded in a transparent, objective and predictable reality, nor be justified by an appeal to a priori normative categories (since these categories are contextualised within specific practices). Postmodernism therefore has a distinctive anti-foundational slant, which has been the target of much criticism in business ethics, and which poses problems for institutionalising ethics as is explained in this chapter. The radical challenge that postmodernism poses to modernist accounts of ethics cannot however be ignored, and, as such, we need to find productive strategies for taking up the postmodern challenge. Introductory remarks concerning the conceptualisation of such strategies are also presented in this chapter.


Business Ethic Moral Judgement Moral Agent Ethical Theory Language Game 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and Centre for Applied EthicsStellenbosch UniversityMatielandSouth Africa

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