Business Ethics vs Business Responsibility

Topics: Ethics, Social responsibility, Applied ethics Pages: 3 (1010 words) Published: June 19, 2013
Peter Drucker, in his paper What is “business ethics”? (1981), makes the argument that ethics, as the “in” subject, is defined as “one set of rules of morality which governs individual behavior and that it applies to everyone alike”. The reason for the insistence on one set of rules is that, otherwise, only the powerful, the strong and the successful will gain exceptions. According to this paper, 'business ethics' implies that acts that were done by an average person are not immoral or illegal but would be so if they were committed by a business. By default then, this one set of ethics, would mean that “business ethics” is not ethics at all. Drucker believes that a Western philosopher would call it our culture's business ethics, Casuistry – a term that means a ruler (company executive), because of his responsibilities, has to strike a balance between ethics (rules that apply to them as an individual) and their “social responsibilities”, in this case, their company. Inevitably, Casuistry ends up becoming politicized because it considers social responsibility “an ethical absolute” and that the responsibilities that the business and the businessman have, create a social impact. Casuistry is doomed to failure because it has no choice but to become a tool for business executives to justify unethical behavior. Drucker's paper goes on to state that whatever the approach to ethics in the future, it will have to incorporate the Confucian key concepts that have endured for so long. Milton Friedman wrote in an article in The New York Times Magazine in 1970 that espoused his views on business “social responsibilities”. He asserted that a corporate executive, as a company employee, has the responsibility of making as much money as possible while working within the framework of law and customs of the land. He went on to state that in the case of a businessman, “social responsibilities” might cause a person to make choices that are not in the best interest of his...
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