Blockchain and Business Ethics

12 Pages Posted: 28 Apr 2020 Last revised: 26 Oct 2020

See all articles by Claus Dierksmeier

Claus Dierksmeier

Global Ethic Institute; Humanistic Management Network

Peter Seele

University of Lugano - Institute of Business Economics

Date Written: April 2020


This paper provides, from a business ethics perspective, a basic clustering of the morally (a) favorable, (b) unfavorable, and (c) ambivalent dimensions of blockchain technology and its various emergent applications. Instead of proffering specific assessments on particular aspects of blockchain‐based business models, we aim to offer an initial overview that charters the territory so that future research can bring about such moral assessments in an informed and orderly fashion. The main contribution of this paper lies in identifying several morally ambivalent dimensions of blockchain technology, which we finally link to two strands of business ethics research: ethical and legal aspects of legislation as well as a link to Habermasian corporate social responsibility theory arguing for transparent data production and consumption on the blockchain. We conclude that future research is necessary for moral assessment of the ambivalent cases, since their ethical evaluation changes depending on whether one analyzes them through the lenses of utilitarianism, contractarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics, respectively.

Suggested Citation

Dierksmeier, Claus and Seele, Peter, Blockchain and Business Ethics (April 2020). Business Ethics: A European Review, Vol. 29, Issue 2, pp. 348-359, 2020, Available at SSRN: or

Claus Dierksmeier (Contact Author)

Global Ethic Institute ( email )

Waldhäuser Strasse 23
Tübingen, 72076

Humanistic Management Network ( email )

St. Gallen


Peter Seele

University of Lugano - Institute of Business Economics


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