Hegel on Modern Economics and Business

  • Albena NeschenEmail author
Reference work entry


The aim of this chapter is to make use of Hegel’s theory about the integral interplay between economics and ethics, which is elaborated in his book Philosophy of Right ([1]). Hegel understands the economy to be part of the ideal ethical state in which human freedom is realized. The chapter focuses on two key aspects of Hegel’s understanding: first, Hegel’s philosophical interpretation of the economic principles of needs and work and second, Hegel’s ethical criticism of civil society (bürgerliche Gesellschaft) and of its members (businessmen or bourgeois) (Hegel talks about economics and uses the term “bürgerliche Gesellschaft,” translated into English as “civil society.” In this chapter, I use the terms “civil society,” “business society,” and “business estate” interchangeably.). Hegel’s ethical criticism of business men who are only interested in profits and who do not respect social values is more relevant today than ever.


Ethical state Universal morality Freedom Civil society Needs Work Estates Businessmen Corporation Righteousness 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Applied Sciences in Bergisch GladbachFHDWBergisch GladbachGermany
  2. 2.Seminar of Corporate Development and Business EthicsUniversity of CologneCologneGermany

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