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Old ethics in a new world
Technological advancements in communications and logistics, such as the development of internet and aviation, have led to globalisation. With globalisation came an increase and transparency of international business. Suddenly the ethics of business became more complex due to the insight in cultural and economic difference in international business. For the United States and Europe this led to the reintroduction of historical topics such as child labour. This essay is a critical view on how the business ethics of the United states and Europe relate to child labour in a highly competitive, globalized, world.

In today’s globalized world there are still regions where child labour is an integral part of local culture and considered to be an ethical occurrence. According to Hasnat (1995, p5) ‘child labour is deeply rooted in poverty and social customs’. This raises the question of what justifies child labour in these regions as ethical. The definition of ethics is ‘moral principles that govern a person’s behaviour or the conducting of an activity’ (New Oxford English Dictionary. 2001 edn). This leads to the assumption that in poor regions with strong social customs a set of moral principles justifies child labour. This assumption is substantiated by Hasnat writings that state that the current developed countries were accustomed to child labour in the past. ‘Children would work alongside their parents, learning and contributing to gather food, hunt, cultivate crops, tend cattle, and help in the household. The child’s work was seen as a process of socialisation and apprenticeship’(1995, p5). These moral principles justify child labour in today’s poor regions with strong social customs. With a history in child labour and current views, the United States and Europe are faced with an ethical dilemma indeed.

As mentioned above, the United States and Europe have been confronted with child labour before when poverty reigned and social customs were...
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