the triumph of the therapeutic

#102- Albert Z. Carr’s “Is Business Bluffing Ethical?”


This week, Scott and Karl discuss Albert Z. Carr’s 1968 article “Is Business Bluffing Ethical?.” Originally published in the Harvard Business Review, the article has become a classic on the subject of business ethics.

Mr. Carr was Assistant to the Chairman of the War Production Board during World War II, serving as an economic adviser to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and a Special Consultant to President Truman.

The basis of Carr’s argument seems to be that there is a difference between what he calls “private morality” and the moral context of the business world. Carr sets out to defend a “game-strategy” view of business, using the game of poker as his analogy.

As you might expect, Scott and Karl point out the many holes in his argument.

Scott says, “What does morality mean for him, what does ethical mean for him, what does lying mean for him, what does bluffing mean for him— it’s all a little bit slippery.” Karl adds, “Socrates would have stopped him right there.”

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