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Why Business Ethics ?

Everyone agrees that business managers must understand finance and marketing. But is it necessary for them to study ethics? Managers who answer in the negative generally base their thinking on one of three rationales. They may simply say that they have no reason to be ethical.

They see why they should make a profit, and most agree they should do so legally. But why should they be concerned about ethics, as long as they are making money and staying out of jail? Other managers recognize that they should be ethical but identify their ethical duty with making a legal profit for the firm. They see no need to be ethical in any further sense, and therefore no need for any background beyond business and law.

A third group of managers grant that ethical duty goes further than what is required by law. But they still insist that there is no point in studying ethics. Character is formed in childhood, not while reading a college text or sitting in class. These arguments are confused and mistaken on several levels. To see why, it is best to start with the question raised by the first one: why should business people be ethical?

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Why Business Ethics ?