Suppose you have an interest in ethical issues that attend commercial activities and/or productive organizations. Where might you go to learn more, or to present to your work? To a conference in business ethics, of course! But where are those?
Both philosophers (and other normative folks) and social scientists “do” business ethics, though in different ways. Very roughly: philosophers think about what is right in business, while social scientists think about what the causes and effects of right behavior in business are. So it is worth deciding what sort of people you want to talk with before deciding where to go. Here are some options, with the more “philosophical” options at the top, and the more “social science-y” options at the bottom.
There is of course the American Philosophical Association. It is unusual for work in business ethics to appear on the main program, but the Pacific Division routinely hosts a group meeting of the Society for Business Ethics. Speaking of which: there is the annual meeting of the Society for Business Ethics, a society which was founded by philosophers in the 1980’s, but which now features at least as much work by social scientists as by philosophers. (Disclosure: I am on the SBE’s board.) The SBE’s annual meeting immediately precedes, and occurs in the same location as, the Academy of Management’s annual meeting. Some philosophical work is also presented at the Social Issues in Management Division of the AOM. (Members of this division refer to themselves, amusingly, as SIMians.) Philosophers can be found at the Vincentian Business Ethics Conference and the European Business Ethics Network (EBEN). There is finally the International Association of Business and Society (IABS), whose members are mainly social scientists, but which is open to work by philosophers.
Beyond these annual conferences, you should be on the look-out for one-off conferences in the area, such as the recent conference on finance and social justice, and the upcoming conference on business ethics in the 6ix.
I am not saying that these are all great events for you personally. But if you are interested in the ethics of commerce and work, you will find some like-minded scholars at these venues. When it comes to business ethics, you now have no excuse to be like this guy.
Tell me what I’ve missed in the comments.2