Business ethics

Published on July 1, 2012 Reviewed on August 31, 2020   41 min

Other Talks in the Series: Organizational Behavior

My name is Robert Folger, I am a distinguished alumnus and endowed professor in business ethics in the department of management at the University of Central Florida. And this is the presentation on business ethics.
When business schools first chose to include ethics as a topic, they began by hiring philosophers. Philosophical ethics focuses on normative issues of right and wrong good and bad, the ideas that are called prescriptive, they refer to how we ought to treat one another. Using philosophical analysis to come up with reasons why we should and should not do things, however, is not the same as conducting research on what people actually do. The research approach to business ethics is empirical in the sense of an effort to learn something from observations of human behavior by using scientific methodologies. Teaching business school students about the full range of modern research discoveries is not yet very widespread, that's what this presentation is mostly about.
We can refer to two very broad categories of philosophical approaches to ethics as perspectives on what is the right way to behave, and the nature of what's good that we should want to have happened, if we're ethical. With or without formal training in philosophy, business school professors will commonly address ethics topics by going into some aspects of normative, prescriptive analyses from philosophy. Covering that ground is useful in at least two ways. First, it can help students to recognize why and when ethics matters, or how business practices might have an ethical aspect to them. Second, it can help students in being familiar with some ethical perspectives they might consider when they face the ethical aspects of business practices. My brief way to discuss normative philosophies is to say that they