Conflicts of interest: A moral analysis

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What is a conflict of interest? What is morally problematic about one? Beginning with the definition, this paper organizes the core (philosophical) literature and creates two continuums-one devoted to the more specific definition of 'interest,' and the other to that of 'duty' (two elements that belong to the definition of conflicts of interest and over which the debate revolves). Each continuum places the authors according to the narrowness or broadness of their positions, which facilitates the understanding of the debate as well as what is at stake when defining conflicts of interest. The paper then develops a moral analysis that leads to the sought-for definition and to an explanation of why we should treat conflicts of interest carefully. While doing so, the paper discloses the criterion to judge whether a definition is right and presents the duties that makes conflicts of interest special as 'tertiary' duties of morality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-142
Number of pages22
JournalBusiness and Professional Ethics Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Business & Professional Ethics Journal.


  • Conflict of interest
  • Deontology
  • Duty
  • Interest
  • Moral law
  • Utilitarianism


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