By Matt Sinclair ’90
One of today’s leading thinkers in business ethics and legal philosophy, John Hasnas ’74 says, “Lafayette provided me with an excellent basis from which to pursue a career of ideas. I received a wonderful education and worked with caring and inspiring professors, including Professor Ralph Slaght, Hogg Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, who taught me how to structure my thoughts, to create persuasive arguments; he taught me the art of reasoning.”
Hasnas, associate professor of business at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and visiting associate professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, D.C., recently launched the Georgetown Institute for the Study of Markets and Ethics.
Under his leadership, the institute will conduct research on ethical issues that arise in a market society, create better methods of teaching ethics to professional students, and engage in outreach to help individuals and businesses deal with these issues in the contemporary marketplace.
“The institute will broaden the field of business ethics,” he says. “We won’t just be talking about what obligations businesses and business people owe to stakeholders or society—we will examine all ethical and public policy issues that can arise in politically regulated markets.”
A philosophy graduate, Hasnas earned his J.D. and Ph.D. in legal philosophy from Duke University.
He decided his passion lay more in pursuing the questions that lie beneath the law rather than the practice of law itself. He earned a master of laws in legal education at Temple University.
“For the last six years or so, much of my writing has been about whether it is appropriate to impose criminal punishment on corporations for the crimes of their employees,” says Hasnas, of Falls Church, Va. “Generally, I write on criminal law and ethics with an occasional excursion into radical political philosophy.”
Hasnas is the author of Trapped: When Acting Ethically Is Against the Law (Cato Institute), as well as numerous scholarly articles. In addition, he has penned several opinion-editorials, including his May 2009 Wall Street Journal treatise, “The ‘Unseen’ Deserve Empathy, Too,” for which he received the eighth annual Bastiat Prize for Journalism.
Hasnas is also pursuing a personal goal to perform a pairs ice skating program with his 10-year-old daughter, Annette.
His interest in figure skating developed in Easton. Men’s soccer team most valuable player in 1973, Hasnas stayed at Lafayette for a year after graduating to serve as assistant soccer coach under Gary Williams, then head coach for men’s soccer and basketball. He also worked at an ice skating rink, where he began to learn figure skating jumps and spins.