Business and ethics

Simply put, ethics involves learning what is right or wrong, and then doing the right thing -- but "the right thing" is not nearly as straightforward as conveyed in a great deal of business ethics literature.


Many ethicists assert there's always a right thing to do based on moral principle, and others believe the right thing to do depends on the situation -- ultimately it's up to the individual. Many philosophers consider ethics to be the "science of conduct." Twin Cities consultants Doug Wallace and John Pekel (of the Twin Cities-based Fulcrum Group) explain that ethics includes the fundamental ground rules by which we live our lives. Philosophers have been discussing ethics for at least 2,500 years, since the time of Socrates and Plato. Many ethicists consider emerging ethical beliefs to be "state of the art" legal matters, i.e., what becomes an ethical guideline today is often translated to a law, regulation or rule tomorrow. Values which guide how we ought to behave are considered moral values, e.g., values such as respect, honesty, fairness, responsibility, etc. Statements around how these values are applied are sometimes called moral or ethical principles.