The Elasticity of Business Ethics

Topics: Ethics, Business ethics, Morality Pages: 8 (2397 words) Published: February 28, 2010
Running head: The Elasticity of Business Ethics

The Elasticity of Business Ethics


Given the competitiveness in the world market, many are tempted to go outside of the rules and regulations of society in order to get ahead. Although many would like to think that qualities such as honesty and credibility are first and foremost in the minds of people, temptations have lured some to act irresponsibly to get more of the almighty dollar. Recent scandals have proven that good ethical and moral values are becoming more the exception rather than the rule. This paper will address the following ethical and moral questions: What is ethics and morality in business. How far have we come as a country in relation to business ethics? Why society is becoming more aware of corporate behavior? What measures are taken by businesses to become a better corporate citizen?

Business practices came under fire when America's seventh largest firm, Enron, collapsed due to unethical accounting strategies. I feel this created a domino effect and was the beginning of our current crisis. Now there are companies folding one after the other, large organizations in the US collapsed or filed for bankruptcy cover and one case even implicated the famous home economist, Martha Stewart for insider trading. The various deceitful activities of some larger companies resulted in widespread public mistrust of business practices and principles. This paper will concentrate on some of the ethical and moral issues that must be addressed when trying to understand the state business ethics. 1. What is ethics and morality and how do they relate?

2. What happened in business ethics before the 1960s to the present time? 3. What are factors that could change ones views of a business’ ethical behavior? 4. What are interactions between business and society that alter societal expectations?

What is ethics and morality and how they relate?

When considering the difference between ethics and morals, consider what a criminal defense lawyer does for a client. Though the lawyer’s personal moral code likely finds murder immoral and reprehensible, ethics demand the accused be defended to the best of his ability even when the lawyer knows the party is guilty and that a freed defendant would potentially lead to more crime. Legal ethics must override personal morals for the greater good of upholding our justice system in which the accused are given a fair trial and the prosecution must prove the accused guilt.

Ethics is the branch of philosophy that deals with morality. Ethics is concerned with distinguishing between the good and evil in the world, between right and wrong human actions, and between virtuous and nonvirtuous characteristics of people. Ethics means thinking critically about your actions and about their motives and their consequences (, 2009). Do I want to be an honest, honorable, spiritual, respectful, or loving person? You might hold an ethical position that it's wrong to lie. A time may arise where it may be necessary to bend the truth or sometimes tell a “white lie”. For example, if you have plans to deploy to Iraq on a sensitive mission and you want to keep your trip a secret for obvious reasons. If someone asks you about those plans, you may need to lie to protect the integrity of the mission. When it comes to making ethical decisions, I take into account my very personal feeling that there is a principle greater than myself.

With that said, morality is the subset of ethics dealing in the philosophical study of interpersonal relations and their ethical implications. It has to do with the critical analysis of our roles in society, our "duties" and "rights". Morals are not personal decisions, except in whether you agree with them or not. Morals are rules that a group has decided are best for that group. (Borade, G, 2009). Americans have several versions of what is moral...

References: Buchholtz, C. (2009). Business and Society: Ethics and Stakeholder Management. (7th Edittion
ed., pp
Ferrell, F. F. (2008). Business Ethics: Ethical Decision Making and Cases. (7th Edition ed., pp.
Simpson, C. (2004, October). Should I or Shouldn’t I? An Ethical Conundrum. Retrieved
September 23, 2009, from
September 22, 2009, from
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