BUSA+Ethics+and+Social+Responsibility+of+Business+(10)

BUSA+Ethics+and+Social+Responsibility+of+Business+(10) -...

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ETHICS AND SOCIAL RESPONISBILITY OF BUSINESS How much of the manufacturing waste should we dump in the water? I. Overview The novel Spartacus was written by the French author Bernard Joseph Saurin in 1760. The novel was named after the Thracian slave who died in 71 B.C. after leading a revolt against the Roman authorities. In this novel, Saurin wrote: "The law often permits what honor forbids." That quote truly encapsulates what the study of ethics vis-à-vis law is all about. While it may have been legal to trade in human misery and subjugation, could it ever be morally acceptable under any of the systems of ethics discussed in this chapter? The study of ethics revolves around the examination of rules, conduct, and character through a morally-tinted microscope. That law should be grounded in some sort of morality-based foundation is self-evident. Yet painful history has shown us over and over the prices paid when there is an abyss between law and ethics. Sometimes these gaps can only be closed by conflagrations and wars so costly that we are reminded of an old anonymous proverb: "Adam ate the apple, and our teeth still ache." The goals of all the ethical schools of thought are to seek some sort of morally-based rationale for human behavior. This rationale may be found in outside sources as seen in schools of ethical fundamentalism or in the rule that provides the greatest good to society as illustrated by utilitarianism. Others such as Kant and Rawls have sought to devise formulas of behavior based on universal rules or social contract, respectively. In all these systems, a morally-based methodology is sought as a guidepost for behavior. If these guideposts are universally accepted, the odds are very high that they will no longer be advisory, but rather required by law. The process by which morally-based ethical behavior is first desired, then expected, and finally mandated is really the evolution of law. Note that law is the last stage in this often painful process. Because so much of our legal and economic activities are conducted in the corporate format, juristic (law-made) business entities cannot ignore this constant and dynamic tug and pull between ethics and law. We have either come a long way or become hopelessly bogged down in political correctness depending on your personal point of view. This dynamic is well illustrated by the differences between the thinking of the court in Dodge v. Ford Motor Company in 1919 and today's social audits of corporate citizenship. The bottom line in the study of ethics is ultimately personal. Imagine a world without a concern for law and ethics. As French author Stephanie Félicité Genlis said in 1793, “The man whose probity consists in merely obeying laws cannot be truly virtuous or estimable; for he will find many opportunities of doing contemptible and even dishonest acts, which laws cannot punish.” II. Hypothetical Multi-Issue Essay Question 94
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Taxes are a cost of not only doing business but also an expense of living in a free society. As Justice
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