Ethical values as part of the definition of business enterprise and part of the internal structure of the business oganization

Journal of Business Ethics 17 (9-10):1015 - 1028 (1998)
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The orientation of this paper is that there is no special science of "business ethics" any more than there is one of "medical ethics" or "legal ethics". While there may be issues that arise in medicine or law that require special treatment, the ways of relating to such issues are derived from a basic ethical stance. Once one has evolved such an ethical stance and thus has incorporated a fundamental mode of relating to her or his fellow human beings, the "how" to deal with various ethical "issues" will follow as a natural consequence of one's ethical stance or modality. It is not necessary, in the formation of one's fundamental ethical stance to know if one is a utilitarian or a deontologist. It is doubtful whether Buddha knew what kind of ethics he was practising. If one conceives of ethics as something extrinsic to various disciplines and attempts to first practise a discipline and then to apply ethics to modify the results of that discipline it is entirely possible that conflicts will result between what is perceived of as the proper pursuit of that discipline and the ethical considerations. The argument of this paper is that it is more efficacious (in addition to being more true) to take ethical considerations into account in the construction of the definition of the discipline. This paper is devoted to showing that business and ethics are not two different and competing fields of interest (thus requiring a discipline of business ethics to be grafted onto the study of business enterprise), but that ethical concerns are part and parcel of the very concept of a business enterprise and the internal operation of a business organization.

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Robert E. Allinson
Soka University


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