By Karl G. Jechoutek

religious ethics in the market economy - cover
Editions:ePub: $ 40.00
ISBN: 978-3-319-76520-4
Hardcover: $ 55.00
ISBN: 978-3-319-76519-8

Religious Ethics in the Market Economy:

  • Provides a fresh perspective on religious attitudes to business ethics and the market economy
  • Includes aspects from Christianity, Judaism and Islam
  • Demystifies outdated business ethics theory

Religious Ethics in the Market Economy aims to go beyond merely confrontational or complementary treatments of the relationship between market participation and business ethics. Reviewing the attitudes towards the market embedded in religious ethics and scholars, it explores the symbiotic relationship between the economy, ethics and morals. Moving the discussion beyond a static and traditional economy envisaged by scripture, it explores the impact of an evolving and globalised economy based on the value systems of moral philosophy and religious ethics. Karl G. Jechoutek aims to expand the conventional view of business ethics, encouraging readers to interpret markets and morality as intertwined concepts, and use them to inform further research.

About Karl G. Jechoutek

Karl G. Jechoutek is an independent scholar and researcher in economics and the humanities. His research foucses on the interface between human development and cultural change in relation to economics and religious studies. He has previously held a research position at the University of Cape Town and teaches at the University of Tuebingen, Germany, and Univeristy of Cape Town, South Africa. He holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Wisconsin, US, and a PhD in Religious Studies from the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Table of Contents + Abstract of Chapters

Chapter abstract were copied from SpringerLink


Setting the scene for the book, the increased complexity of the dialogue between religious ethics of the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and participants in a free market is highlighted. The blurred boundaries between virtues and vices, the transition from static to dynamic economies, and the debate between the open and closed global orders are identified as issues to be dealt with.

1. Religion and the Market: A Tour d'Horizon

A review of the take of moral philosophy and religious ethics on the functioning of the market over the centuries yields a broad spectrum of attitudes and guidelines, ranging from hostility to realistic acceptance. Over time, religious thinking on commerce in the monotheistic religions has evolved, and some convergence with the business mindset is evident.

2. Vices and Virtues Revisited

Virtue in participating in a market economy is defined as the optimum mean, both extremes of a deficit and an excess of virtue are defined as vice in the Aristotelian tradition. The seven cardinal virtues, properly calibrated, are the key to the behaviour in commercial transactions. An oscillation between degrees of virtue and vice is necessary to combine self-interest with an interest in the public good.

3. From Static to Dynamic

Religious ethics is adjusting to the fact of a dynamic world economy and of emerging markets, requiring a correction in the definition of values and virtues from the static traditional economy current at the formation of the scriptural canon. Change and individualisation in the course of development have to be factored into the religious ethical dispensation, bringing it closer to economic and business strategies for a globalising economy.

4. Between Open and Closed

The debate between an open and a closed world order impacts both religious ethics and business strategies. Both the open, free-market, liberal order and the closed, protectionist, illiberal order employ ethical arguments to make their case. Religious ethics can straddle this dichotomy by carefully balancing global and local responsibilities, the protection of global and local freedom, and diversity and homogeneity of societies.


Both religious ethics and business strategy have to adapt to achieve convergence. The meeting point between business-friendly religious ethics and fully ethical business is the middle ground where virtues and vices mesh and where a common language on dealing with changing societies and with the discomfort with the open liberal order has to evolve.


The ethics of the monotheistic religions is just one of the external influences that can guide market behaviour. Other world religions and philosophies such as Hinduism, Buddhism, or Confucianism have a bearing on the market. The explosion of social media and digital business not only creates tools but calls on ethics to take a stand about market power or personal virtue.