The Importance of Business Ethics
This chapter provides an overview of the field of business ethics. It develops a definition of business ethics and discusses why it has become an important topic in business education. It also examines the evolution of business ethics in North America and explores the benefits of ethical decision making in business. Finally, the chapter provides a framework for examining business ethics in this text.
I. Business Ethics Defined A. Business ethics is a complicated and controversial topic: 1. The field of business ethics concerns questions about whether specific business practices are acceptable. 2. Business ethics is controversial and there is no
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c. By the 1950s, the New Deal had evolved into the Fair Deal, defining such matters as civil rights and environmental responsibility as ethical issues that businesses had to address. 2. Until 1960, ethical issues related to business were often discussed within the domain of theology or philosophy. Individual moral issues related to business were addressed in churches, synagogues, and mosques. a. Within the Roman Catholic Church, social ethics included concern for morality in business, workers’ rights, and living wages, for humanistic values rather than materialistic ones, and for improving the conditions of the poor. b. Protestants developed ethics courses in their seminaries and schools of theology and addressed issues concerning morality and ethics in business. c. Such religious traditions provided a foundation for the future field of business ethics, with each religion applying its moral concepts not only to business but also to government, politics, family, personal life, and all other aspects of life. B. The 1960s: The Rise of Social Issues in Business 1. American society turned to causes, and an antibusiness attitude developed as critics attacked the perceived vested interests that controlled both the economic and political sides of society—the so-called military-industrial complex. 2. The 1960s saw the decay of inner cities and the growth of ecological problems. 3. The rise of