Wirtschaftsethik (Knottenbauer, V2/Ü2, WS, social competency)

The course “Wirtschaftsethik” investigates the question of how the application of ethical principles might affect economic activities. Moral issues are of central importance for quality of life, environmental sustainability, and social justice in economies. On the one hand moral decisions are the responsibility of the individual economic actors, such as consumers, investors, employees, or entrepreneurs, on the other hand they are also related to political institutions that can promote moral behavior by means of regulation.

Module content

The course focuses on key ethical and business ethics approaches and their concrete application to general and contemporary cases. Outline:

1. introduction
2. virtue ethics
3. deontological ethics (Kant)
4. utilitarianism
5. contract theory approach: Rawls
6. discourse ethics
7. economic theory of morals (ÖTM)
8. integrative economic ethics (IW)
9. the empowerment approach of Amartya Sen
10. business ethics approaches
11. consumer ethics
12. conclusion normative ethics
13. empirical results on general moral behavior
14. empirical results on business ethics

Learning Objectives

In particular, participants will learn to
- Understand and contrast a variety of ethical and business ethics approaches;
- the analytical ability to apply the variety of ethical and business ethical positions to concrete decisions in economic situations;
- on the basis of the approach of business ethics, to locate the moral responsibility of each economic actor and to apply it to concrete situations (in particular also consumer ethics);
- on the basis of various approaches to business ethics, to deal with central moral conflict issues in companies;
- to interpret essential results of empirical studies on individual moral behavior.

In addition, the course serves to develop the students' own ability to judge moral issues and thus also contributes to the development of their own social and ethical competence. Especially in the exercise, the participants learn to present challenging issues and problem solutions and to face a discussion.


Basic knowledge of microeconomics


Written exam (100%, graded, 60-120min.) or oral exam (100%, graded, 20-30min.)