Goods that are Truly Good and Services that Truly Serve: Reflections on “Caritas in Veritate”


Ethics and Business Law

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If we read the central message of Caritas in Veritate through the lens of contemporary business ethics, there is first of all a diagnosis of a crisis. Then we are offered a response to the diagnosis: charity in truth, “the principle around which the Church's social doctrine turns, a principle that takes on practical form in the criteria that govern moral action.” (CV 6) In business ethics, the norms of personal and (especially) corporate responsibility are the natural correlates to “the criteria that govern moral action.” Using this as a point of departure, the article relates some recent scholarship in business ethics to the message of Caritas in Veritate – with the suggestion that there is significant convergence. The article argues, further, that the encyclical breaks new ground with its suggestion that at the center of our moral thinking in business ethics lies a logic of contribution or gift. Benedict’s understanding of the crisis, and his exhortation to reach beyond conventional interpretations of corporate responsibility, are discussed under the following four headings: Diagnosing a Crisis, Institutionalizing Conscience, A Tripartite View of Corporate Responsibility, and Comprehensive Moral Thinking.



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Journal of Business Ethics

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Goodpaster, K. E. (2011). Goods that are truly good and services that truly serve: Reflections on “Caritas in Veritate.” Journal of Business Ethics, 100, 9-16. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-011-1183-4