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The relationship of business ethics and consumption of natural resources may be thought of as a relatively recent pairing in environmental studies. This perception is understandable because, according to Richard DeGeorge, the term business ethics did not arise as a formal subdiscipline of academic philosophy until the 1970s. Yet “ethics in business” has been a forum of discussion outside formal academic philosophy since the Industrial Revolution. Roger Bucholz suggests that the Protestant ethic provided moral limits on consumption by individuals during the early stages of industrialization in Western Europe and the United States. Despite moral concerns also outlined by foundational free market economist Adam Smith in the 1700s, this ethic eventually weakened during the development of a consumer society.

Aldo Leopold, perhaps best known for his ...

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