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The author argues for the use of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, "The Great Gatsby," as a "text" for studying business ethics. The author presents a documented analysis of the major ethics themes in the book including, for example, moral growth, Gatsby's life of illusion, the withering of the American Dream, and the parallels between the 1920s and the 1980s. Fitzgerald's fiction analysis is then tied to the '90s via current social science and philosophical evidence addressing Fitzgerald's 1920s concerns. Data examining the incidence of lying in contemporary American life, a review of Lawrence Kohlberg's theory of moral development, and data-based studies of wealth distribution in America are among those strands of evidence. The article concludes with a brief look at students' responses to Gatsby in a legal and social environment of business course. In effect, the author presents a lesson plan for teaching "The Great Gatsby" as a general introduction to ethics and American values. As such, the Gatsby discussion is designed to precede a more pragmatic and specific inquiry employing conventional business cases and the like.
Journal of Business Ethics © 1993 Springer