Business, Ethics, and the Environment

Prentice Hall
Joseph DesJardins  
Total pages
December 2006
Related Titles


For courses in Business Ethics, Business and Society, Applied Ethics, and Environmental Ethics.


This is the first text to bring the sustainability paradigm to the forefront of management and business ethics.


The concept of sustainability and sustainable development has taken hold throughout the world as a new guiding principle of economic development.  Sustainability involves “meeting the real needs of the present without so harming the biosphere that future generations will be unable to meet their own needs.”  As used by such institutions as the United Nations and the World Bank, sustainable development usually applies to entire economies and societies, and less so to industries and individual businesses.  Yet already some corporations, especially in Europe, have adopted sustainable business practices.  The future is clear: given present global environmental, population, and poverty trends, economic institutions will be judged by how well they meet environmental and ethical, as well as economic, goals.  Joseph R. Desjardins wrote this book to make the case for this claim.



Would you like to address sustainability?

  • Diverse material.  The movement toward sustainable business is emerging from a diversity of venues and academic disciplines, ranging from economics and philosophy to architecture and finance.  This text brings these diverse materials together.
    • Unifies the material into a coherent and straightforward format.
  • Range of ethical issues.  It is often said that sustainability rests on three pillars:  economic, ecological, and ethical.  This text highlights the ethical questions and challenges that accompany the move towards sustainability within business.
    • Helps students understand how to overcome the obstacles that come with moving toward sustainability.
  • Solution-oriented.  This text examines the many ways that business is changing, and should change, to meet the demands of a sustainable future.   It argues that to become sustainable, business institutions must find a way to be economically vibrant enough to meet the real needs of a global population of 6 billion people without jeopardizing the health of the biosphere on which all human life depends.  
    • Encourages students to think of solutions to ensure sustainability.

How do you help your students to understand such an interdisciplinary field? 

  • Clear and accessible style.  Because this field is fundamentally interdisciplinary, it is important that conversations about sustainability be as free from academic and disciplinary jargon as possible.
    • Helps students understand issues of sustainability without a background in the discipline being discussed.


Would you like a text that blends philosophical and ethical analysis with real-world practical cases and examples to show what sustainable business can and should become?

  • Chapters 1-6 focus on the theoretical and philosophical aspects of sustainable business. 
    • Chapter One provides the preliminary case for a shift to sustainable business models. 
    • Chapter Two offers a glimpse of the present state of the earth's ecology, highlighting those areas that pose the most significant challenges to environmental sustainability. 
    • Chapter Three describes the dominant economic paradigm of growth and free markets, the major alternative to sustainable business, and spells out the models of corporate social responsibility that follow from that paradigm. 
    • Chapter Four provides a detailed critique of this dominant paradigm and defends a more active role for business institutions in addressing these challenges. 
    • Chapter Five presents the alternative economic model of sustainable economics, and sketches an alternative understanding of corporate social responsibility. 
    • Chapter Six make the business case for the shift to sustainability and provides descriptions of several conceptual frameworks that can guide the evolution of sustainable businesses.
  • Chapters 7-9 focus on the more practical and managerial side of corporate sustainability.  These chapters provide an ethical framework for sustainable business.  They indicate several practical developments already contributing to the emergence of sustainable business. 
    • Chapter Seven examines the question of sustainable production, investigating both the products themselves and the entire production process from the perspective of sustainability. 
    • Chapter Eight examines the issue of consumerism and considers business' responsibilities for hindering or encouraging sustainable consumption. 
    • Chapter Nine offers some thoughts concerning new directions that can be expected in the evolution of sustainable business.  Major business professions and the functional areas within business are already beginning to address sustainability issues within their own domain.  Further, business' role in creating sustainable communities adds a social dimension that is often overlooked in standard discussions of business ethics. 

Are you interested in exploring other areas in ethics? 


Business, Ethics, and Sustainability is part of the Basic Ethics in Action series.  See below for a complete listing of the wide-ranging anthologies and brief texts that focus on a particular theme or topic within one of four areas of applied ethics.  A discount is offered when two or more titles in the series are packaged together. Click on any of the titles below for more information:


Anchor volume


Basic EthicsBy Michael Boylan© 2000 | ISBN: 0136742920 

Business Ethics titles


Business, Ethics, and Sustainability:  Ethics for the Next Industrial Revolution

By Joseph DesJardins

© 2007 | ISBN: 013189174X


Journalistic Ethics

By Dale Jacquette
© 2007 | ISBN: 0131825399


Ethical Marketing By Patrick Murph, Gene R. Laczniak, Norman E. Bowie, and Thomas A. Klein
© 2005 | ISBN: 0131848143  Advertising Ethics By Edward Spence and Brett Van Heekeren© 2005 | ISBN: 0130941212  Business Ethics By Michael Boylan© 2001 | ISBN: 0137738390


Environmental Ethics titles


American Indian Environmental Ethics: An Ojibwa Case Study By J. Baird Callicott & Michael Nelson
© 2004 | ISBN: 0130431214  Ethics and Sustainability: Sustainable Development and the Moral Life By Lisa H. Newton
© 2003 | ISBN: 0130617962  Environmental EthicsBy Michael Boylan© 2001 | ISBN: 0137763867


Medical Ethics titles


New Perspectives in Healthcare Ethics: An Interdisciplinary and Crosscultural Approach By Rosemarie Tong
© 2007 | ISBN: 0130613479 Genetic Engineering:  Science and Ethics on the New Frontier By Michael Boylan and Kevin Brown© 2002 | ISBN: 0130910856 Medical EthicsBy Michael Boylan© 2000 | ISBN: 0137738471


Social and Political Philosophy titles


Human Rights and Global Obligations

By R. Paul Churchill
© 2006 | ISBN: 0130408859 Corruption and Anti-Corruption:  An Applied Philosophical Approach By Seumas Miller, Peter Roberts, and Edward Spence.© 2005 | ISBN: 0130617954

Table of Contents

Table of contents




Chapter One: The Coming Age of  Sustainable Business


            Economics, Ecology, Ethics 

            Individuals, Government, and Business

            Economic Growth: Problem or Solution?

            The Sustainability Paradigm

            Sustainability as Social Justice

            Sustainability: Two Caveats


Chapter Two: The Biosphere: Facts and Values


            I = PAT

            State of the Biosphere




            Values and the Biosphere: Pragmatism and Diversity



Chapter Three: Economic Growth, Free Markets, and Business Responsibility


            Economic Growth as the Economic Good

            Free Market Environmentalism

            Free Market Ethics

            Corporate Social Responsibility and the Standard Model

            Corporate Environmental Responsibility



Chapter Four: The failure of market-based policies


            Critique of Growth-Base Market Model: Internal Challenges

            Critique of Growth-Base Market Model: External Challenges

            The Ethics of the Conventional Model

            Summary and Conclusions


Chapter Five: Ecological Economics and Sustainable Business Ethics


            Ecological Economics

            Policy Implications of Ecological Economics: Accounting for Natural Capital

            Policy Implications of Ecological Economics: Globalized Trade and Finance

            Ecological Economics and Corporate Social Responsibility


Chapter Six:  The “Business Case” for Sustainability and Sustainable Business Models         


            The Business Case for Sustainability

            Models for Sustainable Business: Natural Capitalism and Industrial Ecology

            Models for Sustainable Business: The Natural Step and Cradle-to-Cradle



Chapter Seven: Sustainable Production and Sustainable Products


            Sustainable Products

            Sustainable Production: Pollution and Waste

            Life-Cycle Responsibility, Dematerialization, and Sustainable Energy Use

            Business as Consumers: Supply-Chain Responsibility



Chapter Eight:  Sustainable Consumption


            Sustainable Consumption

            Consumption: Too Much of a Good Thing?

            Why do we Consume as we do?

            Business' Responsibility for Consumption

            Philosophical Reflections on Consumerism




Chapter Nine: Creating Sustainable Professions and Sustainable



            Sustainable Marketing

            Sustainable Accounting, Auditing, Finance

            Sustainable HR and Operations

            Sustainable Communities

Back Cover

Business, Ethics, and Sustainability

Joseph DesJardins



Sustainability-economic, environmental, and ethical-is the guiding idea that will shape business and economics into the foreseeable future. Business, Ethics, and Sustainability provides a concise, comprehensive introduction to the ethics and management of sustainable business, making the economic, environmental, ethical, and business case for adopting a sustainable business model. It covers topics ranging from the economics of sustainable development to sustainability in marketing and finance.


Features include:

*     An introductory chapter surveying environmental and ecological challenges facing business

*     Detailed analysis of why economic growth alone cannot address these challenges

*     Models for what a sustainable business might look like

*     Detailed consideration of sustainable production and consumption

*     A chapter surveying the impact of sustainability on Marketing, Human Resources, and Finance

*     Full integration of ethical considerations and analyses


Business, Ethics, and Sustainability is part of the Basic Ethics in Action series, edited by Michael Boylan. For a complete list of our titles, please visit


Joseph DesJardins is a professor in the philosophy department at the College of Saint Benedict, Sain John's University in Minnesota.