Al Gini is a Professor of Business Ethics at the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University Chicago. He is the co-founder and long-time Associate Editor of Business Ethics Quarterly, the journal of the Society for Business Ethics. For over twenty-seven years he was the Resident Philosopher on National Public Radio’s Chicago affiliate, WBEZ-FM. His books include: My Job My Self: Work and the Creation of the Modern Individual (Routledge, 2000); The Importance of Being Lazy: In Praise of Play, Leisure and Vacations (Routledge, 2003); Why It’s Hard to Be Good (Routledge, 2003); Seeking the Truth of Things (ACTA, 2010); The Ethics of Business with Alexei Marcoux (Rowman Littlefield, 2012); 10 Virtues of Outstanding Leaders with Ronald M. Green (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013). 

latest work


The Importance of Being Funny:  Why We Need More Jokes in Our Lives

Published by Rowman Littlefield Publishing Group.  Available Summer 2017.


Humor and joke telling are more than just foolish fun. Humor and joke telling can also serve as a safety valve or a coping mechanism for dealing with reality. Telling jokes can, at times, detox if not completely explain away some of the unsolvable mysteries of existence as well as some of the nagging problems we wrestle with day to day. Humor gives us the courage to endure that which we cannot understand or avoid.

“Jokes are a narrative that help us negotiate reality.” Joke telling is an assault on the absurdity, perplexity and the incomprehensibility of life. Humor allows us to unpack the taboos and poke fun at our limits, our fears, and our frailties. Joke telling allows us to deal with the unavoidable, the irresolvable, and the unanswerable. Joke telling is neither a complete or a sufficient answer to most of life’s challenges and tragedies. But jokes are a necessary analgesic if we are to endure. Joke telling can act as both a sword and a shield to defend and protect us against reality. As the late, great stand-up comic Joan Rivers succinctly put it: “If you can laugh at it, you can live with it!”


Review comments

My Job My Self:

“Al Gini offers us a thoughtful and provocative book on the daunting subject of work. He has a salubrious style, so it’s funny too!”

– Studs Terkel, winner of the 1985 Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction and author of Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do

The Importance of Being Lazy: In Praise of Play, Leisure, and Vacations:

“Al Gini is to philosophy what Edison was to engineering – he subjects Great Ideas to the service of the common good. His reading of the human condition leads him to the conclusion that we need to that things more easy. Now I have powerful ammunition the next time someone wants me to get out of the hammock.”

– Peter Sagal, Host of NPR’s Wait Wait... Don’t Tell Me!


”By degrees both scholarly and whimsical, and written by one of the hardest working people in leisure studies today… Al Gini delivers brilliant narrative on the history of leisure as well as its ongoing necessity for workaholics today… This is an essential book."

– Daniel Born, editor of The Common Review, The Great Books Foundation

Why It’s Hard To Be Good:

“Al Gini is a philosopher who makes sense to everyone. Why It’s Hard To Be Good is penetrating, thought-provoking and a pleasure to read.”

– Scott Turow, author of Presumed Innocent and Ordinary Heroes


“This is the book for these troubled times. With uncommon wisdom, Gini explores the world of ethics, and what it means to do right by others – and he does it in a manner that is so plainspoken it makes for one compelling read.”

– Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in The Other America

Seeking the Truth of Things: Confessions of a (Catholic) Philosopher:

“With humor, wit, penetrating self-revelation, Al Gini exposes the profound concerns that make us human: the quest for meaning in our personal and professional lives, the desire for knowledge, the struggles between reason and faith – not by ruminations on theoretical debates, but in the context of an authentic life.

– Barry L. Padgett, Professor of Philosophy and director of the Ethics and Social Justice Center, Bellarmine University

10 Virtues of Outstanding Leaders:

“Few leadership books mine the field of philosophy for its practical knowledge. Few use the treasury of insights available in the writings of philosophers that speak to issues of character and ethics, ones that are critical for successful leadership. Fewer still apply those insights to living examples of leadership: Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, and Steve Jobs. In their new book, 10 Virtues of Outstanding Leaders, the philosophers Gini and Green do all this, and more.”

– Thomas Donaldson, The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania


“10 Virtues of Outstanding Leaders is a thoughtful and thorough exploration of the knottiest of all leadership questions – what constitutes ‘good’ leadership? Gini and Green have been wrestling with related issues for years, and it shows. The book is a valuable contribution to the never-ending discussion of what it takes to lead wisely and well.”

– Barbara Kellerman, Harvard Kennedy School

The Ethics of Business: A Concise Introduction:

“For business majors planning to enter the real world, this is the most useful business ethics textbook available.”

– Nicholas Capaldi, Legendre-Soule Distinguished Chair of Business Ethics, Loyola University New Orleans


“Gini and Marcoux have written an eminently readable and practical book that strikes the perfect balance of philosophical depth with accessibility to the nonphilosopher. The book demonstrates for both students and business practitioners how philosophical concepts have significant real-life implications across a wide range of everyday business situations and practices.”

– Joseph Desjardins, College of St. Benedict, St. John’s University



Radio Work


To visit the WBEZ archive of Dr. Gini's guest spots, Click Here.

To visit the WGN-Radio archive of Dr. Gini's guest spots, Click Here.




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