They are all lies. Even Mother Theresa did it for herself ...

Johan Hattingh, Minka Woermann

Abstract


In this paper we explore the question of what are we trying to achieve in teaching business ethics at undergraduate university level. The dominant normative model of business ethics suggests that the aim of business ethics (including the teaching of business ethics) is to move businesspeople from an egotistic position to an altruistic position. According to the latter position, the greater good of society is served by unselfish, other-regarding action, instead of by the narrow, self-centred interests of individuals or corporations acting on their own behalf (i.e. egoism). In this paper, the dominant model is analysed and criticised by means of subjecting it to the question of whether it is at all possible to move people from one position to another through teaching business ethics. A second, related aim of this analysis and critique deals with the question of whether ethics (as taking up moral responsibility for one’s actions) really entails a neat, linear model of change from position A to B. To arrive at a possible alternative model of teaching and “doing” business ethics, we explore some classic philosophical positions in which mixed signals are given regarding the status of egoism in ethics. This analysis will be applied to, and supported by, experience gained from teaching business ethics to accounting and management students at undergraduate level at the University of Stellenbosch. 


Keywords


Teaching business ethics; egoism; altruism; neoclassical economic theory; globalisation; complexity theory; complex ethics

Full Text:

PDF

References


Applegate, P. (1993). ‘GM is held liable over fuel tanks in pickup trucks’. New York Times, February 5.

Aristotle. (1980). The Nichomachean ethics (revised edition). (trans. D. Ross) Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bauman, Z. (2000). Globalization: The human consequences. New York: Columbia University Press.

Birsch, D. & Fielder, J.H. (Eds.) (1994). The Ford Pinto case: A study applied in ethics, business and technology. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Cilliers, P. (1998). Complexity and postmodernism. London: Routledge.

Cilliers, P., De Villiers, T. & Roodt, V. (2002). ‘The formation of the self. Nietzsche and complexity’. South African Journal of Philosophy, 21(1), 1-18.

Duska, R.F. & Duska, B.S. (Eds.) (2003). ‘Enron, Arthur Anderson, and the Financial Markets: A chronology of wall Street Journal articles in accounting ethics.’ Accounting Ethics. Oxford: Blackwell.

Friedman, M. (1962). Capitalism and freedom. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Friedman, M. (1970). ‘The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits.’ New York Times Magazine, September 13, 33, 126.

Kant, I. (1988). Grounding for the metaphysics of morals. Indianapolis: Hackett.

Shaw, w.H. (2008). Business ethics. Belmont, CA: wadsworth/ Thomson Learning.

Smith, A. (1985). The wealth of nations. New York: Modern Library.

Thompson, J. (1990). Ideology and modern culture. Cambridge: Polity Press.

White, T.I (1993). Business ethics: A philosophical reader. New York: MacMillan.




DOI: https://doi.org/10.15249/3-1-70

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.



ISSN 0976-3600 (on-line) ; ISSN 1817-7417 (print)


Powered by OJS and hosted by Stellenbosch University Library and Information Service since 2014.


Disclaimer:

This journal is hosted by the SU LIS on request of the journal owner/editor. The SU LIS takes no responsibility for the content published within this journal, and disclaim all liability arising out of the use of or inability to use the information contained herein. We assume no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any breaches of agreement with other publishers/hosts.

SUNJournals Help