The Teleological Paradigm

  • Claus Dierksmeier
Part of the Humanism in Business Series book series (HUBUS)


This chapter makes the case that economics today can benefit from the long-standing tradition of ethical thought. A first major milestone of economic ethics was reached with the “teleological paradigm” that also dominated much of classical economics. From Aristotle via Thomas Aquinas, up to and including Adam Smith, there was a consensus that both economic theory and practice needed to be legitimated as well as limited by a certain overarching goal (Greek: telos) such as the “common good.” This chapter explores in particular how teleological thinking can orient economic decision-making quantitatively (against excess, as in the philosophy of Aristotle), qualitatively (in pursuit of justice, as in the ethics of Thomas Aquinas), and in regard to the question as to how ethical business strategies can be successfully developed (based on empathy/sympathy, as in the economics of Adam Smith).


Common good Virtue Moral philosophy Metaphysics Qualitative economics 


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Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and the Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claus Dierksmeier
    • 1
  1. 1.Weltethos-Institut University of TübingenTübingenGermany

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