Ethics as Practice Embedded in Identity: Perspectives on Renewing with a Foundational Link

  • Mar Pérezts


This paper explores the link between ethics and identity in the form of a theoretical working proposal. I show that this link, in spite of being at the core of a foundational conception of ethics, has been largely overlooked in business ethics literature. Renewing with it appears as essential both for the thought and particularly for the practice of ethics in organizations. I begin by exploring the genesis of a common misconception of ethics, visible in the contemporary debate on the difference between ethics and morals. The etymology of the word ethics reveals in itself an ambivalence which links it to the notion of being, or ethos. This is explained through the case of organizations, and the link between ethics and organizational identity. In the second section, I show that the ethos of ethics has been split through an organizational separation, where ethics resides either in CSR departments and is expressed by discourses and ethics statements (fundamental ethics), or in Compliance departments where it becomes a normative constraint (applied ethics). I draw on contemporary philosophers’ developments to propose a theoretical frame which would allow bridging both perspectives, through what I call the ontological or identity dimension of ethics. In the final section I discuss the implications – philosophical as well as managerial – of renewing with the original link between identity and ethics and dress the outlines of a research agenda to pursue this path.


Corporate Social Responsibility Business Ethic Organizational Identity Practical Wisdom Applied Ethic 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ESCP Europe/Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, ESCP EuropeParis cedex 11France

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