Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Interdisciplinary Studies (MIS)

Degree Name

Interdisciplinary Studies

Department or School/College

Interdisciplinary Studies Program

Committee Co-chair

Celia Winkler, Ramona Grey

Commitee Members

Dane Scott


business ethics, ethics, rule types, rules, social theory


University of Montana


Rules, originally a means toward group solidarity, are the alternative to the need for ongoing physical dominance. Seemingly omnipresent in modern life, rules can be overt or subtle, explicit or tacit, rigidly enforced or overlooked. They may clash with our autonomy. This thesis names and explores different functional types of rules: safety, personal, socio-cultural, legal-religious, and technical. Rules in general are discussed from social and ethical theoretical viewpoints and using ideal type methodology. Understanding that there are different types of rules and the authority behind them makes it easier to determine one’s obligations to follow them, especially with the notion of prima facie duties. A century after Max Weber wrote of his admiration--and fear--of bureaucratic authority, we should be alarmed at the march toward bureaucratic, algorithmic “rule by a rule” that, in its attempts toward fairness and certainty, in fact dominates us by turning us into standardized “machines” rather than thoughtful, intuitive, creative people.



© Copyright 2009 Muriel Rebecca Friedman