HomePhilosophia: International Journal of Philosophyvol. 36 no. 1 (2007)

The Place of Ethics in Business

Napoleon M. Mabaquiao Jr.

Discipline: Philosophy, Business, Ethics



Business is one of the most pervasive elements of society, whose effects on our lives are extensive. As such, business decisions and behaviors need to be guided not only by economic and legal considerations but also by ethical ones. But because of some mistaken views, the place of ethics in business has remained vague and dubious; and this serves as a rationalization for regarding unethical practices in business as mere strategies for a successful business endeavor. This essay aims to establish the grounds for the application of ethical principles to the business activity by clarifying the moral dimensions of such activity and by demonstrating the possibility of benevolent business. Its arguments center around three basic points, namely: (1) that business acts possess the relevant features that give them moral status, (2) that the arguments purporting to establish the irrelevance of ethics to the conduct of doing business are untenable, and (3) that business selfishness need not be vicious and can combine with the selflessness of benevolence to produce a decision that is both ethical and profitable at the same time.