Ethics in Business: Faith at Work

By James M. Childs Jr. | Go to book overview

4

FROM DUALISM TO DIALOGUE

Trust. Honor. Loyalty. Three words that have little meaning today.
Doctors check credit references before treating the ill; publishers value
commercialism over literary excellence; holidays revolve around shopping
and parties, not family and religion; policemen, baseball players, and
teachers—once role models for children—are now accused of savagely
beating citizens, betting on sporting events, and altering student test
scores to promote their own reputations. Politicians touted as senatorial or
Presidential material drop out of contention for high office because of
scandals, one out of every two couples trade their marriage papers for
divorce papers. If that isn't bad enough, according to a recent survey of
American ethics, [two in every three Americans today believe there is
nothing wrong with telling a lie; only 31% believe that honesty is the best
policy.]1

I am sure that readers have noticed that in the previous chapter we dealt extensively with the ambiguous state of ethics in our pluralistic world, without focusing entirely on issues of business ethics per se. However, this quotation from the April 6, 1992, issue of Industry Week magazine, the lead-in to an article on integrity in business, reminds us again that business ethics are a reflection of the general ethical climate of society. In fact, that same magazine, some months earlier, reported results of their business ethics survey that serve to underscore that point. Among the reasons given for unethical conduct in business are the sad state of ethics in society as a whole and the lack of ethical education at all levels of schooling.2 Clearly we need, then, to continue paying attention to the ethical orientation of the cultural context in which business operates, as well as the underlying problems of moral authority that contribute to the ethical ambiguity and moral cynicism so prevalent in much of our society.

As we noted in chapter 1 and have spelled out further since, the general prejudice of secular rationalism in our culture, which resists the

-42-

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Ethics in Business: Faith at Work
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • 1: Bridging the Shareability Gap 1
  • 2: From Being a Nobody to Being a Somebody 14
  • 3: The Not-So-Secular World 28
  • 4: From Dualism to Dialogue 42
  • 5: Beyond the Moral Minimum 56
  • 6: Beyond Leadership to Servant Leadership 71
  • 7: Beyond Affirmative Action 86
  • 8: Beyond Mere Survival 102
  • 9: Beyond Certainty 121
  • 10: Beyond the Company Walls 136
  • Notes 149
  • Index 163
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