History[ edit ] Business ethics reflect the norms of each historical period.
Environmentalists use the metaphor of the earth as a "spaceship" in trying to persuade countries, industries and people to stop wasting and polluting our natural resources. Since we all share life on this planet, they argue, no single person or institution has the right to destroy, waste, or use more than a fair share of its resources.
But does everyone on earth have an equal right to an equal share of its resources? The spaceship metaphor can be dangerous when used by misguided idealists to justify suicidal policies for sharing our resources through uncontrolled immigration and foreign aid.
In their enthusiastic but unrealistic generosity, they confuse the ethics of a spaceship with those of a lifeboat.
A true spaceship would have to be under the control of a captain, since no ship could possibly survive if its course were determined by committee.
Spaceship Earth certainly has no captain; the United Nations is merely a toothless tiger, with little power to enforce any policy upon its bickering members.
If we divide the world crudely into rich nations and poor nations, two thirds of them are desperately poor, and only one third comparatively rich, with the United States the wealthiest of all. Metaphorically each rich nation can be seen as a lifeboat full of comparatively rich people.
In the ocean outside each lifeboat swim the poor of the world, who would like to get in, or at least to share some of the wealth. What should the lifeboat passengers do?
First, we must recognize the limited capacity of any lifeboat. Adrift in a Moral Sea So here we sit, say 50 people in our lifeboat. To be generous, let us assume it has room for 10 more, making a total capacity of Suppose the 50 of us in the lifeboat see others swimming in the water outside, begging for admission to our boat or for handouts.
We have several options: The boat swamps, everyone drowns. Complete justice, complete catastrophe. Since the boat has an unused excess capacity of 10 more passengers, we could admit just 10 more to it. But which 10 do we let in?
How do we choose?
Do we pick the best 10, "first come, first served"? And what do we say to the 90 we exclude? If we do let an extra 10 into our lifeboat, we will have lost our "safety factor," an engineering principle of critical importance.
Suppose we decide to preserve our small safety factor and admit no more to the lifeboat. Our survival is then possible although we shall have to be constantly on guard against boarding parties.Lifeboat Ethics: the Case Against Helping the Poor by Garrett Hardin - The Garrett Hardin Society - Articles.
Business Ethics and the Role of the Corporation - Business Ethics and the Role of the Corporation The problem to be investigated is the ethical role that the corporation has when balancing internal strategies with external responsibilities. Thomas Jefferson School of Law’s extensive array of electives allows students to design a course of legal studies tailored to their own interests.
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