The Age of Enlightenment (also known as the Age of Reason or simply the Enlightenment) was an intellectual and philosophical movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries. The Enlightenment included a range of ideas centered on the pursuit of happiness, sovereignty of reason, and the evidence of the senses as the primary sources of knowledge and advanced ideals such as liberty, progress, toleration, fraternity, constitutional government, and separation of church and state.
Some commentators believe that companies exist solely to generate maximum profits for shareholders using all legal and ethical means. However, others suggest that companies have a responsibility to other stakeholders, including their employees, suppliers, customers and the communities within which they operate. Enlightened self-interest recognises that a company’s prime purpose is to make profits, but that this goal can be achieved by fulfilling its social and environmental responsibilities. Managers are responsible to shareholders, who own the company. Shareholders want the company to increase in value to get the best possible return on their investment. Advocates of enlightened self-interest believe that companies will increase in value if they identify and respond to the needs of society.