Kies de Nederlandse taal
Course module: 30J302-B-6
The Morality of Commercial Life
Course info
Course module30J302-B-6
Credits (ECTS)6
CategoryBA (Bachelor)
Course typeCourse
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byTilburg University; Tilburg School of Economics and Management; TISEM Other;
Is part of
B Economics and Business Economics
B International Business Administration
PM Ethics of Business and Organizations
dr. W.J.A. van der Deijl
Other course modules lecturer
Dr P. Lopez Cantero
Other course modules lecturer
G.H. Mills
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2020
Starting block
SM 2
Course mode
Registration openfrom 19/01/2021 up to and including 20/08/2021
Content (knowledge)
  • Understand the core insights of the 3 main ethical theories (utilitarianism, deontology, virtue ethics) and use them to analyze and resolve moral problems.
  • Describe and evaluate arguments about the relevance of ethics and business ethics in particular.
  • Explain, contrast, and evaluate the central ethical arguments for and against the free market system and its moral limits.
  • Apply these arguments to specific controversies within capitalism (such as the permissibility of medical patents).
  • Understand 3 core views of corporate responsibility (shareholder, stakeholder, citizen) and use these to analyse and resolve real world corporate decision problems.
  • Describe the difficulties that corporations face in achieving their best moral intentions (such as honesty) and design solutions in specific cases.
Argument (skill)
  • Produce coherent and relevant oral and written arguments for the positions you take, and respond constructively to counter-arguments and challenges.
  • Evaluate the quality of argumentation provided by others and produce reasoned judgements over conflicting arguments.
Self-development (character)
  • Can explain why some people are moral exemplars and how they can inform how to approach ethical dilemmas
  • Reflect on and describe the particular challenges to living well in commercial society, and relate these to your own life choices.
  • Reflect on and describe the personal ethical pressures of working for or with corporations, and how to manage them.

Course Description

You have already received a sophisticated intensive training in technical business skills. But without ethical training you will still lack essential skills to succeed in commercial life.

Morality is central to a successful and flourishing life: most people have some guiding sense of right and wrong. So you may think that there is nothing more you need to learn. However, the conditions of modern life – in a commercial society – produce new and complex moral challenges. For example, as an employee you may have several competing moral obligations: to your employer, to your client, and to the law. What should you do when these conflict? Or consider the enormous economic power of modern corporations and the influence they can have on millions of lives, for better or worse. Are corporations morally responsible for their actions in the same way that humans would be?

In such cases your gut feelings will be insufficient. Figuring out the right thing to do requires enriching your moral sense with theoretical concepts and principles.

This course will provide you with intellectual tools to better understand and meet the moral challenges of commercial life. That includes the specific range of issues that fall within ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’: the moral responsibilities of corporations and how they should be organized to meet them. It also includes the personal dimension. What moral responsibilities do you have and how will you meet them? As a consumer, should you care about other things than price? As a citizen, what form of capitalism should you vote for? As a manager, when should you resist the pressure to make profits and for what reasons?


There will be weekly lectures and four workshops. 

The lectures focus on explaining and demonstrating key theoretical concepts, complementing and unifying the required reading. They will also be important for course administration, preparing for the workshops, and exam revision. Because the lectures are the only source for most of the theoretical part of the course they are essential to passing the exam and assignments. 

The workshops are the practical part of the course and essential to its success. They are where you will turn theoretical concepts from the lectures and readings into problem solving tools and skills. You will work in small teams on several assignments of increasing complexity and difficulty. Because of the global pandemic, the workgroups will take place online. But, they are a collective exercise: other students’ learning depends on the quality of contributions that you make. Thus, the workshops are not merely a place to pick up information that you could also find elsewhere. Your active participation is required. 
Course available for exchange students
Conditions of admission apply
Contact person
dr. W.J.A. van der Deijl
Timetable information
The Morality of Commercial Life
Written test opportunities
Written exam (50%) / Written exam (50%)EXAM_02SM 2102-06-2021
Written exam (50%) / Written exam (50%)EXAM_02SM 2230-06-2021
Written test opportunities (HIST)
Required materials
Recommended materials
Crane, A., Matten, D., Glozer, S., & Spence, L. (2019). Business ethics: Managing corporate citizenship and sustainability in the age of globalization. Oxford University Press, USA.
Title:Business ethics: Managing corporate citizenship and sustainability in the age of globalization.
Author:Crane, A., Matten, D., Glozer, S., & Spence, L.
Publisher:Oxford University press
Assignments tutorials (50%)

Written exam (50%)

Final grade

Kies de Nederlandse taal