Exemplars, or concrete problems and resolutions, play a far more central role in business ethics than do detailed rules. Exemplars, such as case studies, anecdotes, parables, and fables, are nearly as important as general ethical principles.
There are four arguments for recognizing this essential role for exemplars in business ethics. First, exemplars facilitate impartial agreement where agreement on detailed moral rules eludes us. Second, exemplars uniquely facilitate, for the purposes of training and decision making, the balanced integration of diverse sets of values. Third, the use of exemplars appropriately cultivates personal judgment, making detailed moral roles useful in exceptional cases only. Fourth, exemplars provide the flexibility necessary for making moral decisions within the continued flux of responsible business life.
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Paul de Vries is an Associate Professor at Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois.
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deVries, P. The discovery of excellence: The assets of exemplars in business ethics. J Bus Ethics 5, 193–201 (1986). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00383625
- Decision Making
- Economic Growth
- Essential Role
- Business Ethic
- Ethical Principle