Rowman and Littlefield International

Commercial Society

A Primer on Ethics and Economics

By Cathleen Johnson, Robert Lusch, and David Schmidtz

4 Reviews

The authors discuss the connections between the ethical, economic, and entrepreneurial dimensions of a life well-lived.

Hardback ISBN: 9781786613554 Release date: Oct 2019
£100.00 €119.00 $130.00
Paperback ISBN: 9781786613561 Release date: Oct 2019
£35.00 €41.95 $44.95
Ebook ISBN: 9781786613578 Release date: Oct 2019
£29.95 €41.95 $42.50

Series: Economy, Polity, and Society

Pages: 354


One of the greatest and most joyful challenges of adult life is to develop skills that make the people around us better off with us than without us. Integrity is a key part of that challenge. We are social animals, aiming not simply to trade but to make a place for ourselves in a community. You don’t want to have to pretend that you feel proud of fooling your customers into believing you could be trusted.
The ethical question is: how do people have to live in order to make the world a better place with them than without them?
The economic question is: what kind of society makes people willing and able to use their talents in a way that is good for them and for the people around them?
The entrepreneurial question is: what does it take to show up in the marketplace with something that can take your community to a different level?
In this book, the authors discuss the connections between the ethical, economic, and entrepreneurial dimensions of a life well-lived.

Ethics, Economy, and Entrepreneurship

Why Ethics?

Why Economy?

Why Entrepreneurship?

Part 1: Key Concept






Part 2: Progress

Adam Smith on Progress

Transaction Cost and Progress

Commerce and Progress

Production Possibilities Frontier

What Seems Like Progress

Part 3: Understanding Trade

Conditions for Trade

Comparative Advantage

Division of Labor



A Market: Supply and Demand

A Market Responds: Price and Quantity

Economic Surplus

Price Signals and Spontaneous Order

Price Controls

Economic Science: Putting Theory to the Test

Progress and Wealth Creation

Part 4: Trust, Agency, and Bystanders

Principal-Agent Framework

Cost to Bystanders

Competitors are not Bystanders

The Logic of the Commons

Environmental Tragedies



Communal Property


Benefits for Bystanders

Market Power

Monopoly Power

Monopsony Power

International Trade and Trade Protection

What Should Not be for Sale

Part 5: Management of a Commercial Society

Financial Institutions

Fractional Reserve Banking

Measuring Economies

Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

Unemployment Rate

Measuring the Price Level

Fiscal Policy

Monetary Policy

Public Choice


Part 6: Personal and Business Finance

Accounting Basics

Compound Growth

Saving, Borrowing, and Investing

Marketing Fundamentals


Break-Even Analysis


Financial Management

Part 7: Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Knowledge Discovery

It Takes More than Ideas

What Innovation Looks Like

Entry, Exit, and the Role of Profit

Creative Destruction

Entrepreneurs as Resource Integrators

Entrepreneurship as a Process

Markets Don’t Exist

Competitive Advantage - The Dynamics of Remaining Viable

The Big Errors

The Entrepreneur and Self-Assessment

Cathleen Johnson teaches the Philosophy, Politics, Economics and Law program at the University of Arizona, USA.

Robert Lusch was Professor of Marketing at the University of Arizona, USA.

David Schmidtz is Kendrick Professor of Philosophy in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and Eller Chair of Service-Dominant Logic in the Eller College of Management, both at the University of Arizona, USA.

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4 Reviews

The authors do an outstanding job of capturing the essential, complementary roles of commerce and ethics in short, concise chapters that are easily digestible for readers of almost any age and educational background. They adroitly link seemingly diverse concepts into a simple narrative of societal sustainability through human interdependence and cooperation. Commercial Society is a thoughtful, delightfully easy, and critically important read.

Stephen L. Vargo, Professor of Marketing, University of Hawai’i at Manoa

This thought-provoking text encourages exploration and engagement in life’s conversation regarding the connection of ethical behavior to commercial economic progress, as well as the importance of entrepreneurship in creating ways to make others better off. It is succinct and will engage students creatively and deeply in dialogue, study, and research.

Candace Smith, Economics Teacher

Learning economics is hard because it is part social science, part business discipline, part moral philosophy. You need to learn how the world works, how to flourish in business and life, and how choices benefit or harm others. Commercial Society is the first text that consistently stresses all three of these points in a clear and simple way. Highly recommended!

Joshua C. Hall, Professor of Economics, West Virginia University

A well-conceived and well-executed guide for young adults embarking on lives in our commercial society. The book provides a beautifully clear description of trade and its centrality to human life, the institutions supporting trade, and the ethics woven into its fabric. On the practical side it discusses personal and business finance and ends with a challenge to the reader to start his or her own business.

David Keyt, Professor Emeritus, Department of Philosophy, University of Washington, USA

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