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date: 27 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

John Rawls is easily the most cited modern philosopher within the business ethics literature. A casual observer might assume that this is a result of his concern with such important and controversial issues as the distribution of wealth and income, and the resulting impact that these have on politics. This, however, is not the case. Rawls is most commonly cited for his ‘veil of ignorance’, a heuristic for developing ethical principles. While his ‘difference principle’ has occasionally appeared within the business ethics literature, it has rarely been applied as he intended to the distribution of income. This neglect of the central thrust of Rawls’s work is reminiscent of how post-war American economists made Keynes politically palatable by ignoring the more controversial aspects of his work. However, while these ‘bastard’ Keynesians actually impacted public policy with often tragic results, contemporary ‘bastard’ Rawlsians have had no discernible effect on the larger society.

Keywords: Rawls, business ethics, Keynesianism, political economy, censorship, distribution of income

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