A few academic friends of mine, Chris MacDonald and Alexei Marcoux, have founded a new journal: Business Ethics Journal Review. The idea, which strikes me as a terrific one, is to facilitate a quicker and more robust critical examination of important ideas in business ethics by publishing short, peer-reviewed, open-access commentaries on articles published in business ethics journals.

BEJR went live on February 14th and has already published its first four commentaries. Readers of this blog might be especially interested in Peter Jaworski’s “Moving Beyond Market Failure: When the Failure is Government’s,” and my own “Are Usurious? Another New Argument for the Prohibition of High Interest Loans?

Anyway, it’s a great new project and I hope you’ll support it by reading their stuff, following them on Facebook, and, if you’re an academic, maybe even submitting a commentary yourself.

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  • Chris MacDonald

    Thanks, Matt! Just to clarify: we publish commentaries on articles about business ethics — they don’t need to have been published in a business ethics journal. So something published in a philosophy or econ journal is fine, as long as the article is about normative issues in commerce.

  • matt b

    Are Usurious? This seems like a very Sean 2- esque title. Very good. Look forward to reading this and the many other interesting articles.

    • Sean II

      I knew there must be a reason why I liked that so much. Although mine would have been “U (Can’t Be) Surious!”, but that’s just because I’m a tennis player, and could not resist a tip-of-the-hat to McEnroe’s catchphrase.

  • Virginia Postrel

    I hope they will publish occasional articles on ethical dilemmas in business–e.g., What do you do if you’re a CEO who believes your stock is overpriced?–as opposed to moral and political philosophy.

    • Sean II

      An interesting example there.

      If you’re a free market CEO, I suppose you’d say: “Overpriced? What is that? The price of my stock is what people are willing to pay for it. If it is X today, how can I claim to know it should really be Y? On what basis would I ever say such a thing?”

      But…if you’re a participant in a mixed economy who understands free market theory, then the problem really does come up all the time.

      I know a couple guys who run a biotech startup, and the profitability of their business seems to depend heavily, perhaps entirely, on subsidized green energy nonsense. To them, to their investors, to their employees, to their (gag) stakeholders, everything seems to be going beautifully. To me, it looks like they’ve built a really expensive mansion on a precipice of political risk, because I can see their business is not founded on any source of legitimate, subjective value demand. The next time a stationary bandit needs to slake his teacher’s union more than he needs to pretend he cares about mother earth, it’s game over.

      This problem is certainly not limited to CEOs or entrepreneurs. One might ask a similar question of everyone who blogs here:

      When one of our hosts looks upon a room full of students, they have to know they’re dealing with a bunch of kids who would never, and could never have bought the product they’re selling at anything resembling a market price. Many, too many of those students will go immediately from the college experience into a depressing period of buyer’s remorse, during which only the fond memory of casual sex, two-hour work days, and consequence-free binge drinking will prevent them from resenting the schools which profited so securely at their expense. (Note: That’s gotta be the real reason why all those Occupy kids blamed the banks who lent the tuition, instead of the universities who collected it. The school at least allowed them to have a good time, while the bank is now rudely insisting they pay for it.)

      But it’s not just about money, it’s also about false promises of meaning in life. The big lie of the education racket these days isn’t “you can all get rich”, it’s “you can all have jobs that aren’t boring.” And it really doesn’t matter if, in between cashing checks, a professor makes an effort to warn his students about how scarce those jobs really are. That can’t even begin to mitigate the damage done by the false signal sent whenever we read something like “Cornfield State Agricultural College is proud to announce that it is now offering a Doctor of Philosophy…”

      Forget payday lending and CEOs with overvalued stock options. Let’s hear about a real moral dilemma, like…what sort of ruthless adventurer must you be to teach college these days?

      • ThaomasH

        [About entrepreneurs dependent on “green energy nonsense"] “To me, it looks like they’ve built a really expensive mansion on a precipice of political risk, because I can see their business is not founded on any source of legitimate, subjective value demand. The next time a stationary bandit needs to slake his teacher’s union more than he needs to pretend he cares about mother earth, it’s game over for their business model.”

        Notice Sean II’s assumption of bad faith on the part of the lawmaker favoring “green energy nonsense;” he is a “stationary bandit” who “needs to pretend he cares about mother earth.” And how is the entrepreneurs’ not recognizing
        the political risk to the firm’s business model an ethical dilemma, anyway? Is his claim that the entrepreneurs know the risk and have not disclosed something to the investors?

        • Sean II

          Sean II: (clears throat) “You know, I’m right here.”

    • http://twitter.com/ethicsblogger Chris MacDonald

      Virginia: what we publish is based on what’s submitted, and people can submit commentaries on papers on any topic within business ethics, broadly construed. Papers on particular ethical dilemmas would be welcome.

  • http://twitter.com/ethicsblogger Chris MacDonald

    See also this newly-minted response to Matt’s piece on usury, by Robert Mayer: http://businessethicsjournalreview.com/2013/03/06/mayer-responds-to-zwolinski/

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