Ethical Principles Of A Business Ethics Essay

1698 Words May 9th, 2016 7 Pages
With changing societal standards, companies in our modern world can and must strive for ethical behaviours in an attempt to keep any form of competitive edge. However, with the bottom line continuing to hold the greatest importance for corporations and their shareholders, the legitimacy or extent of these ethics remain up for debate.

The very definition of business ethics has been debated by academics for decades. Brunk (2012) outlines the traditional philosophical theories of what it means to be ethical, broken into two theories. Deontology is a theory whereby moral judgement is rules-based, stemming essentially only from social norms and the law. Similarly, Friedman’s definition of CSR stems from this theoretical line of thinking. According to Schwartz and Saiia (2012), Friedman’s theory of CSR is that the only responsibility of a corporation is to maximise profits, abide by law and regulation, conform to “ethical custom”, and act without deception and fraud. “Ethical custom” is taken to be very loose, and is generally thought to only include industry norms and etiquette that fall outside the realm of the law. (Schwartz and Saiia, 2012). Therefore Friedman understands the role of a corporation as being to serve the shareholders and maximise profits and, thus, their return on investment, and the role of ethical activism to be that of the government and non-profit organisations. (Schwartz and Saiia, 2012).

The second philosophical theory of what it means to be ethical is…

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