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Business And Christian Ethics Essay, Research Paper
Business and Christian Ethics 1
Your behavior towards other? s is a matter of making choices: whether to be friendly or unfriendly; whether to tell the truth or to lie; whether to be generous or greedy; whether to study in order to pass an exam or to spend valuable study time watching television and then cheat to pass it. These, and all other questions about how people act toward themselves and one another are dealt with in a field of study called ethics. Ethics is a code of conduct and values that are accepted by society as being right and proper. A Code of ethics is simply a compilation of the rules that are meant to govern the conduct of members of a particular organization or profession.
Ethics is primarily concerned with attempting to define what is good for the individual and
society. It also tries to establish the nature of obligations, or duties, that people owe themselves and each other. I feel that people do not willingly do what is bad for them, but may do what is bad for others if it appears that good for them will result. I think most people find it difficult to define what is good and how one should act to achieve it, because individuals and whole societies have performed outrageous criminal acts on people. In addition, every one is expected to comply with business ethics of all applicable laws and regulations, and with other company policies and instructions, while attempting to maintain their Christian ethics. Our conduct is our responsibility. None of us should ever commit dishonest, destructive, or illegal acts even if directed to do so by a supervisor or coworker, nor should we direct others to act improperly. We should not deviate from Business or Christian Ethics, policies and instructions even if doing so appears to be to the company?s advantage.
Ethical problems are inevitable at all levels of a business and this means that it’s simply good sense for companies to take seriously the task of institutionalizing ethics in their organizations. When one looks at corporations with a strong commitment to ethics, the first thing one notices is that the leaders of these organizations are the strongest advocates of corporate integrity. CEOs and Chairmen of such companies are clear and vocal; forcefully charging everyone in the company to look at not only how profitable their actions are, but how ethical. Therefore, if a company is owned and operated by Christians, Christian ethics? will be applied.
There have been radical changes in business conditions over the past century. Originally commercial activities were largely conducted between neighbors, now commerce is conducted in a global market. This change has also brought about a concern that the traditional requirement of a personal biblical ethic in commerce no
Business and Christian Ethics 2
longer applies. Arguments are increasingly made that personal morality is unnecessary in the modern marketplace, since the system of the market would control people’s actions and only allow results that are for the public good. This idea has continued to the present day, and as a result, the church has had little to say about economic matters. While the market has an important regulatory role to play in governing the economic behavior of people, any social system becomes ineffectual if not upheld through the underlying ethic and trustworthiness of its participants. If the social system of the market cannot adequately control the behavior of people, it becomes obvious that the church made a grave mistake when it gave up its voice in the marketplace. To reclaim this loss, and to effectively prepare Christian students for their future roles in business, it is important to have students to continue integrating the saving faith in God with every part of life, and work.
I think since commerce has grown from a community affair, participated in by individuals that had usually known each other most of their lives, to the much more impersonal, increasingly complex, and radically enlarged scope of commerce that has rapidly taking over the known world. Over time, the predominating view changed from a view of economic activity, which regarded it as one among other kinds of moral conduct, to the view of it as dependent upon impersonal and almost automatic forces. The struggle of individualism, in the face of restrictions imposed in the name of religion by the Church and of public policy by the State, has been denounced, then justified in the name of economic liberty. Today, such reasoning is a normal fixture in the day-to-day work life of modern business people, whether they are believers or unbelievers.
In essence, the problem that Christian?s face has to do with whether the Bible provides sufficient direction to adequately control economic exchange, or whether the social systems (the economic, legal, and monetary systems) are the appropriate modern systems which should be used control economic exchange.
If the principles found in the Bible are not sufficiently complex to deal with the business problems of today, or if the social systems have a built-in ability to control the actions of the participants so that the end result is the betterment of all, the rules of Christian godly living, have little to offer the practical world of business. From a theological perspective, the question is whether a social system can cause collective righteousness to result from individually selfish actions. This issue has many practical considerations. If the rules of Christian Godly living
Business and Christian Ethics 3
are inappropriate to the outside world of commerce, how can a Christian businessperson live by them and still survive in the marketplace? This reasoning has led some Christian scholars to argue that Christians should remove themselves from the marketplace, since being involved in it is either to fail, or to sin. Another view, is that individuals, including those with a personal Christian ethic, should maintain ethical standards in their personal lives, but when they enter the place of business, they should follow the predominating “rules of the game.”
One would have to explore the issues of private versus commercial morality, including the question as to whether it is possible to successfully participate in the commercial world and still live by a biblical standard. It is possible for a Christian to participate ethically in business? The big question is ?how do you apply biblical principles of personal ethics to the complex world of intermingle fiduciary responsibilities, which typify business life today?? If the social system corrects for the individual behaviors of the participants in the system, then greed, envy, and avarice can be allowed to run free in commercial life, with no impairment of the economic system’s ability to provide for the physical needs of the society.
If we feel we cannot fully trust those we are dealing with, we can turn to human systems to help out. We must ask our selves whether systems can totally replace individual trust. Trust in persons has generally been termed ‘interpersonal trust’ while a trust in the system can perhaps be best described as system trust. Interpersonal trust is essentially a choice by one person to trust another person based upon that person’s perceived trustworthiness. System trust, on the other hand, is not centered on an individual. Rather, it is centered on some aspect of a larger social system that people are willing to put confidence in. Thus we can ‘trust in democracy,’ or ‘trust in the law,’ or, ‘trust in the market’ to assure proper outcomes result from our interactions with other people and organizations. In actuality, the market system cannot do away with the necessity for personal morality for the simple reason that the market system has never existed, and cannot exist in anything like its pure form. This is also why its outcomes have not been empirically verified.
One must recognize the biblical duties of the Christian, and also recognize the realities of the marketplace within which his parishioners work. One aspect of this reality is the increasing complexity of the marketplace. The impact of an economic action upon employees, shareholders, debt-holders, suppliers, and society
Business and Christian Ethics 4
at large had to be considered. No longer could one only think about the individual transaction without placing it in the larger web of activity. Christian ethic?s in the marketplace takes account of changing situations and multiple parties affected by any decisions made. It also considers the power relationships created and treats them as responsibilities to be accounted for.
Since the rise of the market system, arguments have been made that personal morality is unnecessary in the modern marketplace, since the system of the market can control people’s actions and only allow results that are for the public good. This idea is rarely questioned in the modern mind today. One result is that the church has had little to say about economic matters for a long time. The market, or any social system for that matter, controlling for the sin of man, is fundamentally flawed since every system of man must have some men as ‘controllers’ of the system. If people generally become untrustworthy due to an over-reliance upon social systems to control behavior, this action will eventually affect the ‘controllers’ of the systems, with the result that those systems will fail.
The conclusions reached here argue an overwhelming need for those in the commercial system who hold forth a Godly Virtue. With no sustaining example of biblical ethics in business, interpersonal trust will inevitably decline, and declining trust in the balance of the society’s systems will ensue, followed by the eventual breakup of the society itself. Therefore, even if it were possible, Christians should not forsake the world of commerce. Rather they should “show the world how to do it right”. To reclaim lost ground, it is important to consider the teachings of the Bible to deal with the realities of modern commercial settings.
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