Book Search:  


Google full text of our books:


The Moral Background:
An Inquiry into the History of Business Ethics
Gabriel Abend

Hardcover | 2014 | $39.50 / £27.95 | ISBN: 9780691159447
416 pp. | 6 x 9 | 14 line illus.| SHOPPING CART

eBook | ISBN: 9781400850341 |
Our eBook editions are available from these online vendors

Reviews | Table of Contents
Introduction[PDF] pdf-icon

Google full text of this book:

In recent years, many disciplines have become interested in the scientific study of morality. However, a conceptual framework for this work is still lacking. In The Moral Background, Gabriel Abend develops just such a framework and uses it to investigate the history of business ethics in the United States from the 1850s to the 1930s.

According to Abend, morality consists of three levels: moral and immoral behavior, or the behavioral level; moral understandings and norms, or the normative level; and the moral background, which includes what moral concepts exist in a society, what moral methods can be used, what reasons can be given, and what objects can be morally evaluated at all. This background underlies the behavioral and normative levels; it supports, facilitates, and enables them.

Through this perspective, Abend historically examines the work of numerous business ethicists and organizations—such as Protestant ministers, business associations, and business schools—and identifies two types of moral background. “Standards of Practice” is characterized by its scientific worldview, moral relativism, and emphasis on individuals’ actions and decisions. The “Christian Merchant” type is characterized by its Christian worldview, moral objectivism, and conception of a person’s life as a unity.

The Moral Background offers both an original account of the history of business ethics and a novel framework for understanding and investigating morality in general.

Gabriel Abend is assistant professor of sociology at New York University.


"Abend combines history, philosophy, and social science to suggest a comprehensive base for understanding moral behavior. While the book's focus is on business ethics, the insights presented have many applications."--Choice

"[A] scrupulously documented and il¬lustrated history."--Nicholas Capaldi, Journal of Markets & Morality


"This major, innovative study of what American businessmen were urged to do, be, and believe between the 1850s and 1930s reveals differing underlying assumptions that shaped how business was viewed, and how it viewed itself. It brings a new depth and subtlety to the emerging field of the sociology of morality."--Steven Lukes, author of Moral Relativism

"A successful treatment of the history of business ethics, this book provides what surely must be the most thorough account of the business ethics literature ever done. Coming at the material with a new, fully developed, and convincing theory, Abend analyzes business ethics from the perspective of the science of morality. A fine work."--Richard Swedberg, Cornell University

"With exceptional intellectual maturity, ambition, and vision, Abend skillfully deploys his analysis of moral background through an in-depth look at how business ethicists, businessmen, and journalists dealt with moral tensions, scandals, and failures. The result is a magisterial historical analysis that adds complexity to current approaches, particularly to the study of moral dilemmas. This book is sure to have a lasting impact on the study of morality in sociology and beyond."--Michèle Lamont, Harvard University

More Endorsements

Table of Contents


Subject Areas:

Shopping Cart:

  • For ebooks:

Our eBook editions are available
from these online vendors:

  • Amazon Kindle Store
  • Apple iBooks
  • Barnes & Noble Nook Store
  • Google Play eBook Store
  • Kno eBook Store
  • Kobo eBook Store
  • Many of our ebooks are available through
    library electronic resources including these platforms:

  • Books at JSTOR
  • Ebrary
  • Ebook Library
  • EBSCO Ebooks
  • MyiLibrary
  • Dawsonera (UK)

  • Shopping Cart:

    • For hardcover/paperback orders:

      For hardcover/paperback orders in the United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, and Australia

      Hardcover: $39.50 ISBN: 9780691159447

      For hardcover/paperback orders in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, India, and Pakistan

      Hardcover: £27.95 ISBN: 9780691159447

      Add to shopping cart

      Prices subject to change without notice

      File created: 1/29/2015

    Questions and comments to:
    Princeton University Press

    New Book E-mails
    New In Print
    PUP Blog
    Princeton APPS
    Sample Chapters
    Princeton Legacy Library
    Class Use
    Recent Awards
    Princeton Shorts
    Freshman Reading
    PUP Europe
    About Us
    Contact Us
    PUP Home

    Bookmark and Share
    Send me emails
    about new books in:
    More Choices