Arbitrating between performance and ethics
It seems particularly timely to ask, in the face of the crisis, whether it is still the case that “the pursuit of particular interests leads to the general interest”, as Adam Smith put it. Or are there, in the words of the philosopher Michael Sandel, ‘moral limits to the market’? The debate between performance and ethics has taken on new dimensions. Firstly, ecological issues are pushing us to open the discussion on how to produce and finance companies in a sustainable way. Secondly, in a globalised world it is becoming complicated to understand where a company’s responsibility towards its employees, consumers and suppliers begins and ends. Finally, the current crisis requires immediate responses, ranging from the trade-off between subsidising companies or supporting household incomes to principles for the distribution of vaccines between countries and the protection of intellectual property.