What is Business Ethics?
Noting the reluctance of many practitioners to use the word ethics or even to be willing to discuss ethics, an attempt is made to define what business ethics ought to be. The suggestion is made of a “new practice,” an approach which recognizes the priority of practice over theory. The focus is on improving the ethical quality of decision-making. Three levels must be distinguished: the micro or the level of the individual, the meso or the level of firms and organizations, and the macro level of national economies. Three groups of values must also be considered: personal, collective, and general. The inter-relationships among these levels and values must always be kept in mind.
There is a need for a model of cooperation between economics and ethics which can overcome the problems of idealism or of reducing ethics to an instrumental device. A decision-making based approach holds the greatest promise. At the same time, the fact of pluralism must be faced, a problem which can only be solved by finding an overlapping consensus.
KeywordsBusiness Ethic Moral Reasoning Ethical Responsibility Normative Ethic Comprehensive Doctrine
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