What Are Business Ethics?

1265 Words6 Pages
Business ethics; what does it really mean? Some say it’s an oxymoron and the two words can’t exist together as a concept. These people will tell you that within business, there is no room for ethics and ethical behavior. Others will explain the need for businesses to practice good ethical and moral values within their company, and the importance of this to our society. For me, in the past, I honestly never gave the idea or term a second thought. Now after learning so much of business in our society I have a firm understanding of business ethics and I’ve developed my own personal view that reflects it. At the roots of proper business ethics is undoubtedly, understanding. As with life, all truths and therefore all ‘rights’, come with understanding. You can mimic steps and follow guidelines but that’s mere “window dressing” as according to Milton Friedman, an American economist (Friedman). With understanding you can find the bottom line and follow that which causes the best over all results for the majority of those concerned. What exactly does that mean? To start to answer that question we have to look at the definition of business ethics. Business, as according to Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary: “Noun: employment; profession; vocation; any occupation for a livelihood; trade; firm; concern.” And here is the definition of "ethic," also from Webster's Dictionary: “Noun, pl.: philosophy which treats of human character and conduct, of distinction between right and wrong, and moral duty and obligations to the community.” So business ethics is concerned with human character, understanding, and distinction between right and wrong, and moral duty, within a livelihood, trade or occupation. Given this definition you can see how there is much debate and confusion as to what business ethics really is. Business ethics is more of a concept than it is a definable term. Seeing that the definition is somewhat vague, and that business ethics is seen more as a concept, we can assume the concept to be relativistic in nature. Even so, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or can’t be defined more clearly. That just means it exists in many forms and for many different reasons, with many different definitions. Practicing the right business ethics means getting down to the bottom line. In the end who will the action affect and how? To what extent will it help, and why? W... ... middle of paper ... ...e is one thing I’ve learned it’s not to judge a book by it’s cover. Not to jump to conclusions, or think my first impression is the right impression. Business is a whole world I never knew. It’s one that shape our lives. As individuals we have responsibilities to, in essence, take care of each other. Is it business ethics? Who or what is business anyway but you and I? It’s human ethics and the bottom line. Works Cited Cicero (106-143 B.C.). Excerpt from De Officiis, Book III. In L. Cunningham & K. Gunn (Eds.), Business & society—A journey of discovery, 5th edition (pp. 275-283). Boston: Pearson Custom Publishing Friedman, Milton. “The Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits,” New York Times. Magazine, September 13, 1970. Web. 16 Mar. 2015 http://www.colorado.edu/studentgroups/libertarians/issues/friedman-soc-resp-business.html Merriam-Webster: Dictionary and Thesaurus. 2015. Web. 16 Mar. 2015 http://www.merriam-webster.com/ Mill, John S. “From On Liberty, Chapter 2: Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion.” The Broadview Anthology of Victorian Prose 1832-1901. Ed. Mary E. Leighton and Lisa Surridge. Peterborough: Broadview, 2012. Print.
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