Ethics is a branch of philosophy that inquires into the nature of ultimate value and the standards by which human actions can be judged right or wrong (“ethics,” Collegiate). Ethics is not primarily concerned with the description of moral systems in societies. That task, which remains on the level of description, is one for anthropology or sociology. In contrast, ethics deals with the justification of moral principles.
A Brief History of the Study of Ethics
Ethics has been studied since ancient times. In the oldest of the Indian writings, ethics is an integral aspect of philosophical and religious speculation about the nature of reality. These writings date from about 1500 BC. They have been described as “the oldest philosophical literature in the world, and what they say about how people ought to live may therefore be the first philosophical ethics” (Everson 5).
In ancient China, he humane teaching of Confucius and his followers, the peaceful wisdom of Lao-zi, and the universal love of Mo-zi offered alternatives to frequent wars.
Early Greece was the birthplace of Western philosophical ethics. In the poetic literature of the 7th and 6th centuries BC, there were ethical precepts but no real attempts to formulate a coherent overall ethical position. The Greeks were later to refer to the most prominent of these poets and early philosophers as the seven sages, and they are frequently quoted with respect by Plato and Aristotle.
During the Classical Period of Greek ethics, three great philosophers – Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle – flourished in the 5th and 4th centuries BC. Their ideas have served ever since as the cornerstone for the Western ethics.
In the later Greek and Roman periods, the two dominant schools of thought, Stoicism and Epicureanism, represent important approaches to the question of how one ought to live.
The Middle Ages did not give birth to any major new ethical theories. It is worth mentioning that Christian ethics is distinguished from the philosophical discipline of ethics, which relies upon the authority of reason. Christian ethics, also called moral theology, appeals to the authority of revelation, specifically as found in the preaching and activity of Jesus Christ.
The significance of Renaissance for ethics lies in a change of focus. For the first time since the conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity, ...
... middle of paper ...
Conflicts of interest are fundamental to the nature of business. Although society wants companies to create many well-paying jobs, those same organizations want to limit compensation costs and raise productivity levels. Customers want to purchase goods and services at low prices, but businesses want to maximize profits. Society wants to reduce pollution levels, but businesses want to minimize the cost that environmental regulations add to their operations.
Managers must continuously and consciously balance the needs of the organization and its stockholders with the needs of other stakeholders, including workers, customers, and the larger community. Managers must also balance their personal needs and desires against those of their organizations.
Ashby, W. Allen, Warren Ashby. A Comprehensive History of Western Ethics: What Do We Believe? Amherst: Prometheus Books, 1997
Becker, Lawrence C., and Charlotte B. Becker, ed. A History of Western Ethics. New York : Routledge, 2003.
“ethics.” Collegiate Encyclopædia. 2005. Collegiate Encyclopædia. 4 June 2005
Everson, Stephen, ed. Ethics. Cambridge, U.K. ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1998.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- The first two journal articles that were compared and contrasted were Ala Alahmad’s 2010 article on To Be Ethical or Not to Be: An International Code of Ethics for Leadership and Patrick Murphy’s 2009 article on The Relevance of Responsibility to Ethical Business Decisions. Some key findings of Alahmad’s writings were that ethics and leadership were closely tied together; they were found to be derivatives of one another. He mentioned that ethics is an individual thought process of making good or poor decisions.... [tags: Business Ethics]
970 words (2.8 pages)
- Introduction The purpose of this short paper is to compare and contrast three different peer-reviewed journal articles and one online periodical. First, the paper provides a brief introduction of the four articles. Second, the paper compares and contrasts the four articles. Finally, the author presents his views on the topic of social responsibility and business ethics before concluding the paper. Four Articles All four articles center their focus on business ethics. Of the four articles, three are scholarly peer-reviewed journal articles and one, by Friedman, is an online periodical.... [tags: Business, Ethics]
2005 words (5.7 pages)
- This paper will compare and contrast the various interpretations of four separate authors in respect to ethics and social responsibility as they apply to business. The four articles to be reviewed are; “The Social Responsibilities of Business is to Increase its Profits” by Milton Friedman, “The Relevance of Responsibility to Ethical Business Decisions” by Patrick E. Murphy, “What is ‘business ethics’” by Peter F. Drucker and “To Be Ethical Not To Be: An International Code of Ethics for Leadership” by Ala’ Alahmad.... [tags: Business Ethics ]
2326 words (6.6 pages)
- Stakeholders play a major role in the business arena, they are charged with the responsibility of ensuring their organization is a safe environment not only for themselves but for their employees. In a seemingly competitive and morally flawed world, business people and entrepreneurs are often presented with grave ethical challenges. For this reason their personal values and beliefs play a pivotal role in the success of the organization. When concealing doubts about the ethics of others, more than a few tend to feel warranted in engaging in less-than-ideal conduct to protect their own interests.... [tags: Business Ethics]
902 words (2.6 pages)
- Niall Fitzgerald, stated, “Corporate social responsibility is a hard-edged business decision. Not because it is a nice thing to do or because people are forcing us to do it... because it is good for our business.” (as cited in Elliot, 2003, para. 14) What is social responsibility. Peter F. Drucker (1981) suggests it is today’s business ethics as defined by society’s ever-changing values, values based on people functioning as a group. Milton Friedman’s (1970) view of social responsibilities is one of individual ethics.... [tags: Business Ethics]
1610 words (4.6 pages)
- Historical Overview Caveat emptor, is Latin for “let the buyer beware,” which according to Merriam-Webster’s on-line dictionary (n.d.), was first known to be used in 1523 (Merriam-Webster, n.d.a). From this historical context it is clear that ethical behavior in the realm of business has been a point of contention for society at large for nearly five centuries. America too has had a storied history in dealing with ethics and ethical practices relating to business practices and consumer affairs.... [tags: Business Ethics]
1325 words (3.8 pages)
- The Moral Compass essay Ethics relates to given principles that govern behavior and conduct of a human being. Business ethics on the other hand is the code of a conduct that a company or an organization abides to in the day to day operations with the public (Conjecture Corporation, 2011). Making profits and high volume sales should not be the only goal of a business, a good reputation to the public is also very important for the survival of a company. This has led to companies formulating their code of ethics for employees to adapt.... [tags: Ethics, Business, Leadership]
3437 words (9.8 pages)
- “The more one knows ethics, the more it is used and the more useful it becomes”-Plato, The quote by Plato is a reminder on just how important ethics is and how important it is to educate yourself on proper ethical practices. In the following paper I would like to look at the topic of global business ethics. Recent studies in business ethics have shown both remarkable similarities and differences across cultures with respect to attitudes toward questionable business practices. First I would like to talk about the affect that culture has on ethical behavior.... [tags: Business Ethics]
1849 words (5.3 pages)
- Outline : A) General overview. B) Utilitarian theory. C) Kant theory. C) Rawls theory. D) Conclusion. Foreword: This research paper discusses theories in business ethics. It also considers three cases that illustrate ethics principles violation. Thesis: Nowadays in the era of economic relations and international trade business ethics plays a very important role. Nowadays in the era of economic relations and international trade business ethics plays a very important role. It is of vital importance at any level of activity: corporate, state or international.... [tags: Business Ethics]
1776 words (5.1 pages)
- In today’s global society, a Code of Ethics policy is used to label established, acceptable behaviors among that industry’s business associates, potential investors, and the corporation’s executive officers and employees, and most important, the consumer (Ethics Resource Center, 2003). In an attempt to promote an increased efficiency and productivity potential level, among employees and prospective clients, a corporation’s standard Code of Ethics should guide its members toward a more in-depth examination of their personal moral activity, and how these actions affect the people or acquaintances they encounter.... [tags: Business Ethics Morals]
1180 words (3.4 pages)