Philosophy for Business


Philosophy for Business
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ISSN 2043-0736

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Ethical Dilemmas
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Launched on 2 November 2003, Philosophy for Business is an e-journal published by the International Society for Philosophers, looking at philosophical and ethical aspects of business practice.

We are aiming for a wide circulation to companies and corporations around the world, as well as academic philosophers.

In order to gain the widest possible readership, articles should be written in simple, non-technical language. The target length is 2500 words.

Some themes that we will be looking at:

   Globalization and monopoly
   Is business ethics possible?
   Philosophy of economics
   Practical ethics
   Idea of a code of conduct
   Freedom of speech
   Industrial democracy
   Whistle blowing
   Ecology and sustainability
   Education and health
   Business and the law
   Tax avoidance and evasion

Please send articles for Philosophy for Business to one of the Editors (see below) or to the List Manager Geoffrey Klempner at

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Philosophy for Business is an open access journal, as defined by the Budapest Open Access Initiative.

In accordance with UK Law (April 2013) all content is archived by the British Library and is available within the reading rooms of all Legal Deposit Libraries.


Geoffrey Klempner


Marco Senatore

Peter S Borkowski

Dena Hurst

Sean Jasso

International Society for Philosophers
[back to archive]

P H I L O S O P H Y   F O R   B U S I N E S S           ISSN 2043-0736

Issue number 17
25th April 2005


I. 'Teaching and Learning about Business Ethics' by Linzi J Kemp

II. 'Stewards of Creation: Some Personal Reflections on Ecology' by Erwin B Laya

III. 'CSR, or Professional Foul Revisited' by Geoffrey Klempner



Dr Linzi Kemp is an academic philosopher involved with the teaching of ethics
in business and management courses. In her detailed and informative article,
she makes an powerful plea for the importance of teaching students how to
practice ethical decision making, and not just how to write ethical codes or
mission statements.

Erwin Laya writes about ecology as a concern which we face both as a society
and as individuals, in the way each of us chooses to live our lives. If
humanity is to survive the growing danger of ecological catastrophe, we must
learn see ourselves as St Francis of Assisi did: as the stewards of Creation.

In a few weeks time I will be going to Prague to give a talk at Prague College
on Corporate Social Responsibility for their Open Lecture series. I would very
much appreciate what the readers of Philosophy for Business think about the
challenging issue of CSR. I have included here some very preliminary thoughts
taken from the pages of my Glass House Philosopher notebook.

Geoffrey Klempner




The paper focuses specifically on the creation, development and teaching of
ethics in business courses. An overview of recent management is considered and
a learning opportunity for ethics identified within that context. Standards for
ethical business education are drawn from examples of current teaching practice.
Through research into student discussion, it is shown how awareness of ethics is
raised in a learning community. Developments are proposed for teaching business
ethics. The paper leads to a conclusion that the future of organizational
ethics is in the hands of business educators.


The ethical practices of organizations impact on the role of business
educators. When teaching business students, it is reasonable to equip students,
not only with a qualification, but also with the necessary learning to perform
effectively in business in these times of change. This is particularly
pertinent when teaching mature students who are employed and studying part
time. In the business educator/ student relationship it is necessary to
recognize students as potential, current and future organizational employees.
As educationalists in general and business educationalists in particular, there
is a great responsibility; the ethical future of the business world depends on
the direction taken. If ethics is not integrated into business courses, then
there will be a dearth of ethics in business; it is that simple. It is mindful
to consider that the students being taught today will become our ethical global
managers of tomorrow.

The context - Time and Space

Ethical dilemmas do not happen in a vacuum, there is a history that can be
traced. The ethics of the march of progress in a McDonaldized world are
questioned in sociological texts (Berman 1982, Ritzer 1993). Following the
McDonalds metaphor, in the physical rather than metaphorical sense, I offer an
example of organizational ethics from the food industry. The dubious practices
of food marketing and management have been revealed recently in movies such as
'Super Size Me' (Isaacs 2004) and reiterated in best sellers 'Fat Land'
(Critser 2004) and 'Fast Food Nation' (Schlosser 2002). In another
organizational context, the history of the mismanagement of Martha Stewart and
her insider share dealing was unveiled through trial, conviction and appeal
(Stewart 2004). In the accounting profession, Arthur Andersen wasn't dissolved
overnight when the company was found guilty of obstructing justice; it was
dissolving as it was working with the Enron Corporation (Beltran et al 2002).
The tobacco companies' products are being smoked and enjoyed even as the
lawyers, health service, politicians and anti smoking groups fight over the
ethics of selling such products (Enrich 2001). On the political stage, the
ethics in play have been released in the docudrama 'Fahrenheit 9/11 (Moore

An international perspective is relevant, as some students will become global
managers in the future. The questionable ethics of a few in some organizations
is a global problem. The death of Robert Maxwell, Maxwell Communication
Corporation, revealed the mis-management of employee pensions as this Chairman
and Chief Executive took 'money from pension funds to keep his companies afloat
and boost the share price' (BBC 2001); tragically thousands of Maxwell employees
also lost their pension plans. Nick Leeson, whilst investment officer for
Barings Bank UK, based in Singapore, single handedly caused its collapse (Hunt
and Heinrich 1996). Accounting safeguards were missing from the office and the
drive for financial gains resulted in too risky investments.  That
employer-employee relationship of unethical behavior resulted in a loss for
investors and an impact on global finances. Research about the suppliers and
intermediaries of multinationals has revealed the exploitation of labor in
developing countries e.g. 'Gap' and 'Nike' as they produce clothing for the
developed world (Klein 2001, Bakan 2004). Bell (2003) exposes the deceit of
political parties and news organizations, on both sides of the Atlantic, which
has contributed to a changed world of disorder. 

All these events have been enacted on an organizational stage where consumers
are the audience; an audience that has presumably not enjoyed these unethical
plays (Boje and Dennehy April 2000). Consumers have also become actors, through
a lack of awareness, having bought the products. What has become obvious, in
these times of change, is that organizations are now playing to an
international audience and their influence has widened in consequence. By
teaching ethics in business courses, the level of awareness can be raised
amongst students; an awareness leading to action as these working students will
become the change agents within organizations (Lewin 1948). 

Standards for Business Education

When management educators raise the topic of ethical behavior in business life
during courses, then a standard is set for the future. It is through business
education, that students will be enabled to set high standards for an ethical
future in organizations. To avoid students being merely players in an unethical
theater of business, they can be taught to deconstruct what has gone awry with
business and to construct a new era of ethical management (Linstead 1993).

In the virtual space of a Management Principles course (Center for Distance
Learning, Empire State College, State University of New York, 2004), business
ethics is set as a discussion topic.  In the online environment, threaded
discussions between students and instructor add into the learning community
created through study (Swan 2002). The students, in posting a response to a
teacher led discussion topic, learn from each other whilst critically examining
the postings of their online colleagues. 

Students in this course are given a context, in which to consider the effects
of 'whistleblowers' on both the organization and the individual. The stage for
learning about managing ethically is set up via a preamble on how individual
behavior impacts on the organization and how the organizational culture is
formed from that behavior. Organizational culture and social responsibility are
considered through an explanation to students that such responsibility needs to
be the concern of managers in the workplace (i.e. themselves) as well as
management scholars (e.g. students as academics). The students are encouraged
to reflect that management is at one of its most significant stages in history
due to changes in technology, international affairs, current business
practices, and global organizational social responsibility. Examples are
offered of successful 1990s managers and their companies (General Electric
Co.'s John F. Welch and IBM's Louis V. Gerstner Jr.) before moving over to
Enron and considerations about 'unethical corner-cutting'. 

Reasons are offered for such corner cutting e.g. an entrepreneurial culture
with emphasis on earnings growth and individual initiative, but with an absence
of the corporate checks and balances, that tip the entrepreneurial culture into
unethical behavior (Byrne, France and Zellner 2002, pps118-120). Student
research is directed to the course text (Griffin 2003) about the environment of
organizations and how managers can manage individual behavior. Articles to be
read and cited in discussions are taken from Maidment Annual Editions (04/05)
e.g. ' Why Companies Fail' (Charan and Useem 2002). Other directed research is
carried out and students post relevant references and summarize the value for
the topic. In this case, shared references that appeared and were useful for
the discussion on ethics included 'Time' magazine 'Persons of the Year' award
(Time, Dec 22nd 2002) celebrating the whistleblowers; WorldCom (Cynthia
Cooper); Enron (Sherron Watkins); the FBI (Coleen Rowley). Another reference
cited is that of Jeffrey Wigand, 'the insider who blew smoke at Big Tobacco'
(Weiller 2004). The shared references form an annotated bibliography that is
created by and shared amongst those in the online learning community. 

Management Principles is a lower level course; for all students it is an
introduction to their management learning and for some it could be the first
course in business. The concern this author has is that whilst the scene had
been set with a topical subject that students relate to i.e. whistleblowers, it
also introduces the organizational stage as unethical and unmanageable. World
Wide Web (WWW) resources are linked to e.g. The US Office of Special Counsel
(2004), an independent federal investigative agency and the Government
Accountability Project (2004), a watchdog group that provides a substantial
amount of information on Whistle blowing. 

Teaching Mission Statements and Codes of Ethics

The author's evaluation of how ethics was taught in the Management Principles
course cited, concluded that it raised awareness, but that a balance is
required when teaching ethics. The emphasis was too heavily on the side of
exposing 'bad' management and more examples of positive ethical practices were
required. An opportunity exists to invite students, through teaching the
construction of mission statements, to propose strategies of behavior that will
set standards for them in their management positions. 

The timeline of the unethical management of Enron, World Com and the FBI can be
traced over the years (Time 2002, Boje 2002). Even whilst the corruption was
ongoing, Enron offered a display of ethical values in the annual report,

     "We treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves.
     We do not tolerate abusive or disrespectful treatment... We
     work with customers and prospects openly, honestly and
     sincerely" (Boje, 2003, Enron Statement of Values in Annual
     Report 2000 p 55).

As was subsequently revealed, whilst Enron had a statement of values in 2000,
some of its actors were playing out a charade behind the scenes. As an example
of teaching ethics to embed value in business practice, a values or mission
statement is a useful tool. However, students need to be shown that not only
are the mission and values critical for setting the direction and culture of an
organization, but that they are a reality to be adhered to. The functional
notion of teaching students that mission statements and core values are
essential in planning (Griffin 2003) needs to be accompanied by a rationale of
why we need to adhere to those values. Otherwise, the class of 2005 leaves
University with a diploma that enables them to construct a mission /core value
statement but lacking a will to follow the tenets of ethical behavior. The
mission is to teach students to be able to write an efficient statement and
educate them to be effective in respecting the goals contained within.

It is appropriate to create and display within courses, a code of ethics for
business teaching. This reminds teachers and students alike of the importance
of ethics in business and models the place of ethical codes in the workplace. A
classroom, whether virtual or physical, is after all a workplace; a place where
the business of learning happens. Heinz Luegenbiehl (1983, p 138) acknowledges
that a code of ethics has sociological value,

     "the adoption of a code is significant for the
     professionalization of an occupational group, because it is
     one of the external hallmarks testifying to the claim that
     the group recognizes an obligation to society that
     transcends mere economic self-interest."

The model of a code of ethics displayed in future business courses is a
consideration for the future of course development. 


These observations suggest to educators a need to continue to acknowledge
ethics in the business curriculum. A goal is to raise the ethical standards in
business teaching, learning and in the professions. How else will the futures
of our organizations change, but through new employees with strong ethical
stances?  It is necessary to ensure that students are not a passive audience,
learning about ethics, but instead become life long active participants in
ethical business practices. Business educators are agents of change and,
through the actions taken, influence students, colleagues and the organizations
worked with now and in the future. 


Bakan J, 2004, The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power.

BBC, March 29th 2001, Robert Maxwell a Profile, (online), URL

Bell, M, 2003, Through Gates of Fire, a Journey into World Disorder, Weidenfeld
and Nicolson, London.

Berman M, 1982, All that is Solid Melts into Air, the experience of modernity,
2nd ed, Verso Editions, London.

Beltran B, Gering B and Martin A, June 16th 2002, Andersen Guilty, CNNmoney
(online) URL

Boje D M and Dennehy R, April 2000, Managing in the Postmodern World, 3rd ed,
(online). URL

Boje D, 2002, Enron Chronology, (online) URL

Boje D, 2003, Enron Statement of Values in Annual Report ,2000, p 55, (online),

Byrne J A, France M, Zellner W, February 25 2002, 'The environment was ripe for
abuse.' Business Week, pps 118-120.

Center for Distance Learning, 2004, Management Principles Course, Empires State
College, State University of New York, (online) URL

Charan R and Useem J, May 27 2002, 'Why Companies Fail' Fortune Magazine.

Critser G, 2003, Fat Land, How Americans Became the Fattest people in the
World, Houghton Mifflin, New York.

Enrich D, August 20th 2001, The Insider who blew smoke at Enron, US News
(online) URL

Government Accountability Project, 2004, (online),

Griffin R W, 2003, Fundamentals of Management, Core Concepts and Applications,
(3rd ed), Houghton Mifflin, New York.

Hunt L and Heinrich K, 1996, Barings Lost: Nick Leeson and the Collapse of
Barings Plc, Butterworth Heinemann.

Institute for Business & Professional Ethics (IBPE), 2004, mission statement,

Isaacs, D, 2004, 'Super Size Me' (film), Director Morgan Spurlock.

Klein N, 2001, No Logo: No Space, No Choice, No Jobs, Flamingo.

Kotler P, Nov/Dec 2004, "Is marketing ethics an oxymoron?" Marketing
Management, pps 31-35.

Lewin K 1948, Resolving social conflicts; selected papers on group dynamics,
Gertrude W. Lewin (ed.). New York: Harper & Row.

Linstead D, 1993, Deconstruction in the Study of Organizations in Postmodernism
and Organizations, J Hassard and M Parker, eds, Sage, London.

Luegenbiehl, Heinz C. "Codes of Ethics and the Moral Education of Engineers",
Business and Professional Ethics Journal 2 (1983): 41-61. Rpt. in Ethical
Issues in Engineering. Ed. Deborah G. Johnson. Englewood Cliffs, NJ:
Prentice-Hall, 1991. 137-154.

Maidment F H, 2004, Annual Editions Management (04/05), McGraw-Hill/Duskin,

Martin R L, 2002, The virtue matrix: Calculating the return on corporate
responsibility, Harvard Business Review, 80(3), 68-75.

Moore M (Director), 2004, Fahrenheit 9/11 (Film), Columbia Tristar Hom.

Ritzer G, 1993, The McDonaldization of Society, Pine Forge Press (Sage),

Schlosser E, 2002, Fast Food Nation, What the All-American Meal is Doing to the
World, Penguin, London.

Stewart M, 2004, An Open Letter from Martha Stewart (online), URL

Swan K, November 2002, Conference paper University of Albany, Building learning
communities in online courses: the importance of interaction.

TIME December 22, 2002, The Whistleblowers, (online), URL

US Office of Special Counsel, 2004, (online), URL

Weiller F, 2004, Jeffrey Wigand, the insider who blew smoke at Big Tobacco,
Part of a 2001 U.S.News special issue on "Heroes Truth Tellers" (online) URL

Dr Linzi J Kemp 
Center for Distance Learning
Empire State College
State University of New York

(c) Linzi J Kemp (2005)




      Sum Res Cogitans: I am a Thing that Thinks

'We do not inherit the land from our parents,' farmers often say. 'We merely
borrowed it from our children.'

The opening premise has relevance in the helpless condition of our Mother
Nature. It speaks about the ecological conscience on this ultra-modern
materialistic society. A crucial but basic question then: What is my moral duty
as a human person to our environment?

From the ecological point of view, Saint Francis of Assisi, a lover of nature,
believed that all created things are brother and sisters. He saw himself as one
member of the family of the creatures of the 'Transcendental Lover'. Because of
this, he respected and cared for all living things. He lived in perfect harmony
with nature.

Like Francis of Assisi, I realized that I am part of the nature. I am rooted on
my environment as much as the tree, and my life is dependent upon the nature. In
a nutshell, I have this particular integrity. All living beings have integrities
too. 'Right to live' is the integrity that I am referring to.

However, because of the radical and fast movement of our times, our Mother
Nature is in peril. One does not need to be an expert to see what is happening
and to be profoundly troubled by it. Within a few short years, brown eroded
hills have replaced luxuriant forests in many parts of the country. I see dried
up riverbeds where not so long ago streams flowed throughout the year. Farmers
tell us that because of erosion and chemical poisoning the yield from the
croplands has fallen substantially.

Fishermen and experts on marine life have a similar message. Their fish catches
are shrinking in the wake of the extensive destruction of coral reefs and
mangrove forests. The picture which is emerging in every province of the
country is bleak. The attack on the natural world which benefits very few
people is rapidly whittling away at the very base of our living world and
endangering its fruitfulness for future generations.

The ecological problem, indeed, is considered as the dark shadow of our age -
which I believe is the root of many of our economic and political problems.

One of the dark shadows is the population explosion. Thousand of years ago, the
number of human persons grew very slowly. But then in the last century the pace
of this growth changed dramatically.

This rapid population growth is a serious problem inasmuch as the earth and its
resources are limited. The earth's land is limited for people to build homes and
to live. If the population continues to grow, the human race will soon come to a
point where the earth's space and resources will be used up, famine will be an
ordinary experience, and pollution will become an even more serious problem.

Another nature's dark shadow is found in the modern destruction of the earth.
The fruits of the earth are rapidly being destroyed, and with their destruction
many species of plants and animals are becoming extinct. The tropical rain
forests - which profoundly influence global climates agriculture cropping
practices, and life-supportive activities are rapidly disappearing.

Faced with this alarming and saddened situation which I have mentioned, there
are signs of hope. For we have a moral duty to response to the awakening of
awareness. If nothing is done the situation will become worse.

Needless to say, you and I are called to care about tomorrow, the tomorrow of
the earth, the tomorrow of our own children, the tomorrow of future generations.

One of my responses to the awakening of my awareness is by changing my own
inner attitude, that is, to live a life of simplicity.

I can't deny the fact that sometimes I have this clear but distorted philosophy
that urges me to desire, to possess more and more. It proclaims that the
happiest person is the richest person, the one who consumes the most. In
opposition to this line of thinking, I am urged to desire less and to live more
simply, learning to live with as little as possible, a simple dwelling, a few
clothes, a simple but nutritious food, and a small but healthy family.

In this life of simplicity there would be an attempt to make full use of
whatever is produced and to waste as little as possible. Such a simple life
would lead to less waste and less pollution.

To sum up, there is no real transformation in society unless there is an inner
personal transformation. Whatever is wrong with society is the accumulated
result of whatever is wrong with the people who compose it.

Who fights the senseless destruction of our Mother Nature? Who pollutes our
atmosphere and rivers? Society doesn't do it, people do.

Hence, if more and more individuals are reformed and renewed, then society will
likewise be renewed.

Erwin B Laya
Philosophy Instructor and Acting Humanities Coordinator
College of Arts and Sciences
Brokenshire College
Madapo Hills 8000
Davao City, Philippines

(c) Erwin B Laya 2005




     From Glass House Philosopher, Monday, 25th April 2005

In 1977, BBC television broadcast a play by Tom Stoppard, Professional Foul
about a group of British philosophers attending an academic conference in
Czechoslovakia during the time of the human rights struggle. It made a big
impact on me at the time. One of the main themes is the conflict between the
notion of loyalty to the state and individual responsibility. I was looking for
a suitable quote and found this: 

     The ethics of the state must be judged against the
     fundamental ethic of the individual... I conclude that
     there is an obligation, a human responsibility, to fight
     against the State correctness.

These are the words of Pavel Hollar, a Czech student who is attempting to
smuggle his doctoral thesis out to the West. In one exchange which has stuck in
my mind, Hollar talks about the sense of justice which is prior to any notion of
a state or law, which we learn to practice in our personal relationships from an
early age. 

I was thinking about Stoppard's play because I have been invited to Prague
College Czechoslovakia to give a lecture on business ethics for their Open
Lecture series ( 

How different things are now. Capitalism has finally triumphed over the
socialist dream. There is no possibility of turning back. Multinationals vie
with one another to invest in a fast growing, vibrant economy.  

Now Czech business people want to learn more about business ethics. I doubt
whether socialism, even of the palest tinge, would appeal these days. But I
wonder whether things really have changed that much from an ethical standpoint. 

Once, ethical scruples were subordinated to the State and the attempt to
practice free speech was deemed disloyalty. Now, the manager's first loyalty is
to the Company and free speech is labelled 'Whistle blowing'. 

- Is that true? You tell me. 

Commenting on my articles The Business Arena and Ethics and Advertising Bruce
Gahir, a Birkbeck College Philosophy graduate like myself who lectures on
business ethics at Prague College and arranged the invitation said: 

     I think that the "I-Thou" could be brought into this talk
     if it follows along these lines and I am sure that
     corporate members surely need this kind of "education".

Bruce Gahir is specifically referring to my contrast between 'being ethical in
the true sense of "ethical" and the minimalist, legal sense of respecting the
rules that govern the business arena'. He wants me to talk about Corporate
Social Responsibility, or CSR as it is widely known. These are just my first,
rather chaotic thoughts on the subject. 

CSR is undoubtedly the buzz word of the moment. A search on Google for the
exact phrase "corporate social responsibility" yielded a staggering 1,310,000

I am also aware that CSR is a something of an Achilles heel so far as my theory
of the 'business arena' is concerned. Why? Because the responsibilities of
business to society at large seems to fall outside the business arena as such,
that is to say, the participants in the game of producing and consuming, buying
and selling. When a local community is blighted by industrial pollution, for
example, exactly who bears the brunt of the responsibility? The company, for
not taking the interests of the community sufficiently into consideration, or
the government for failing to pass sufficiently tight anti-pollution laws?
Consider the situation where the government is desperate for foreign cash and
the company a powerful multinational. - These are just some of the many
questions I will be asking. 

I am publishing this in issue 17 of Philosophy for Business which is due to go
out today. I would particularly like to hear the thoughts of business people on
this sensitive topic. 

What are your experiences? How do you view your responsibility, both as an
individual and as a company member? From your perspective, how have things
changed in recent years? Does your company have a CSR success story to tell?
(leave out the PR, please). Email me at I promise
to response to every email that I receive. 

(c) Geoffrey Klempner 2005