Pilant's Business Ethics

Business Ethics Blog

Tag: philosophy (Page 1 of 3)

Jewish Business Ethics: “Perfecting the World”

Jewish Business Ethics: “It Was Only Business”

Are Business Ethics an Oxymoron?

Our daily business ethics speak far louder than the words we utter in synagogue.

Rabbi Benjamin Blechby Rabbi Benjamin Blech

And if Harvard MBAs get it, and corporate titans understand it, we certainly ought to focus our attention on the issue of business ethics as one of the most relevant concerns of anyone interested in tikkun olam – perfecting the world.

When we talk about the importance of business ethics as a barometer of spirituality, we need to remind ourselves of the remarkable passage in the Talmud that tells us that after we leave this earth to face our divine judgment, there are many things we will be queried about as the heavenly court reviews our lives. Yet the very first question posed will be: “Were your business dealings conducted honestly?”

And no one will be able to justify his misdeeds by claiming “It was only business!”

Are Business Ethics an Oxymoron?

I want to put more in the blog about religious ethics. I strongly believe that it is neglected and often discarded in discussions of business ethics. But religion has much to say about business conduct from the Old Testament’s demand for just weights to Islam’s ban on interest payments.

James Pilant

From around the Web –

From the web site, Business Ethics Review, here is a post by Yasir Samad:

If the company never seriously thought about whether it is ethical and corporate social responsibility issues, these six can provide guidance to start the process. Although it is important to behave ethically, it is equally important to get the message to the public if a company wants to take advantage of “doing well”.
1. Define what your company stands for and what values it places on the market. Public awareness of these values? Do they have a positive reaction to them?
2. Check the internal and external relations of the company. Do not they make sense and reflect the values of society? Public and the media frequently proclaim the guilt of the association. To search for new relationships with companies that meet ethical standards.
3. Understanding what the public expect from a company today. Are you ready to meet those expectations?
4. Check the location of assets, liabilities, and promises of brands, products, public sector and community initiatives.
5. Compare your public profile, in which private actions. Are in conflict?
6. Do not be shy about spreading the word through the media, employees and community.

From the web site, Richard James Sharp’s Blog:

Ethics involves the notion of morals however they’re different but interrelated concepts (Ethics and morality, n.d.; Tallman 2009).  Morals are the individual establishment between right and wrong whereas ethics occurs in the context of groups of individuals who build shared values and standards creating a culture in which decisions influencing the causal relationship of right and wrong exist (Clawson 2006 ; Hrebiniak 2005 ; Klebe Treviño, Pincus Hartman & Brown 2000 ; Northouse 2009 ; Schein 2004).  There’s a philosophical question of whether businesses have ethics due to the notion that business is apart from society (Longstaff 1991).  However, individual people who constitute the business are part of multiple collectives defining the wider societal and cultural values environment in which ethics resides and the business operates (Huntsman 2008 ; Longstaff 1991).

And finally, from the web site, Bhavin Gandhi’s Blog:

Have you ever saw the definition of business? If you have then you know what I am talking about. In defining a business, ethics don’t play in to the picture at all. Sole purpose of a business is to increase the value for its stakeholders. Thus, can you blame those businesses, who are taking advantage ofthe lower tax policies in Ireland to increase their net income? It might be morally wrong forthose businesses to show all of their profit in Ireland, while they get their 50-70% profitfrom United States, but you can’t do anything about that. As more and more countries loosen their tax policies to attract foreign businesses, there would always be somecompanies who want to move there to increase their net profit by paying lower taxes there.

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Teaching With Film – Business Ethics – Professional Ethics- People Will Talk with Cary Grant

Teaching With Film – Business Ethics – Professional Ethics- People Will Talk with Cary Grant

People Will Talk = Click this link and you can buy it at Amazon.com for (currently) $11.97 new or $4.95 used.

Teaching With Film – Business Ethics – Professional Ethics- People Will Talk with Cary Grant


People Will Talk is a great film for teaching. The story of an eccentric doctor played by Cary Grant who has an even more eccentric friend offers many ethical conundrums. Jeanne Crain is the love interest in the film. During the first half, she is troubled and a largely passive character. I was waiting for my intrepid students to call me out on this, since I am a vigorous supporter of powerful women characters but somehow they missed this. When she became a more vibrant and powerful character in the second half, I would’ve been justified but my prepared defense was unnecessary.

Should a doctor disclose all pertinent facts to a patient? Professional Ethics

Is concealing your qualifications immoral?Professional Ethics – Business Ethics

Is using any means including those outside the current science to heal moral or immoral? Professional Ethics – Business Ethics

Is the comfort of patients more important than the calls of procedure and timeliness on the part of the nursing staff?

What attitude should be taken toward unmarried mothers? Ethics

Is attempting to dig up the dirt on a colleague immoral? Professional Ethics – Business Ethics

Is living off of your relatives wrong all the time? or is it wrong depending on the circumstances?Ethics

At what point is a crime “paid for?” Ethics


Can a kiss equal a marriage proposal? (A good proportion of my class says no. I differ.) A matter of curiosity

Is a story more effective as persuasion or a presentation of facts? (Bet you have that one figured out.) A matter of what I believe – the class tends to go along with me.

Does a movie (especially a good one) explain a moral problem more clearly than a lecture (although they get a brief one anyway!)?

I observe my classes carefully and I use some of the same films each year. But I experiment with new ones each year as well. This was a new one. It was a great success. The class was delighted with it and paid careful attention. Their assignment was to write down all the moral conundrums they observed. We are going to discuss them tomorrow.

James Alan Pilant


Stoicism, A Philosophy for Tough Times?

Stoicism, A Philosophy for Tough Times?

Rob Goodman and Jimmy Soni writing in the Huffington Post describe why Stoicism is still relevant today. I selected a passage from their first reason that the philosophy was designed for tough times. I’ve read Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus, so I’m familiar with Stoicism but I don’t believe endurance is enough but otherwise I admire stoicism and find its practitioners admirable.

James Pilant

Roman Emperor and Stoicism

Five Reasons Why Stoicism Matters Today

Stoicism was born in a world falling apart. Invented in Athens just a few decades after Alexander the Great’s conquests and premature death upended the Greek world, Stoicism took off because it offered security and peace in a time of warfare and crisis. The Stoic creed didn’t promise material security or a peace in the afterlife; but it did promise an unshakable happiness in this life. 

Stoicism tells us that no happiness can be secure if it’s rooted in changeable, destructible things. Our bank accounts can grow or shrink, our careers can prosper or falter, even our loved ones can be taken from us. There is only one place the world can’t touch: our inner selves, our choice at every moment to be brave, to be reasonable, to be good.

The world might take everything from us; Stoicism tells us that we all have a fortress on the inside. The Stoic philosopher Epictetus, who was born a slave and crippled at a young age, wrote: “Where is the good? In the will…If anyone is unhappy, let him remember that he is unhappy by reason of himself alone.”

While it’s natural to cry out at pain, the Stoic works to stay indifferent to everything that happens on the outside, to stay equally happy in times of triumph and disaster. It’s a demanding way of life, but the reward it offers is freedom from passion — freedom from the emotions that so often seem to control us, when we should control them. A real Stoic isn’t unfeeling. But he or she does have a mastery of emotions, because Stoicism recognizes that fear or greed or grief only enter our minds when we willingly let them in.

A teaching like that seems designed for a world on edge, whether it’s the chaotic world of ancient Greece, or a modern financial crisis. But then, Epictetus would say that — as long as we try to place our happiness in perishable things — our worlds are always on edge.

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Does Teaching Business Ethics Matter? From the Ethics Sage

Does Teaching Business Ethics Matter?

Are Ethics Courses Failing to Produce Ethical Business People? – Ethics Sage

The bottom line is there is no way of knowing whether business ethics education has made a difference. A graduate of a prestigious school might commit fraud in the future, but it doesn’t mean business ethics has failed them or even all students. Organizational pressures and the culture of a firm can create barriers to ethical behavior. The key is to find a way to work through the obstacles and voice your values.

Are Ethics Courses Failing to Produce Ethical Business People? – Ethics Sage

(I should mention that a great deal of this posting dealt with the “Giving Voice to Values” curriculum and the work of Mary C. Gentile. I have visited the web site for this curriculum and liked what I saw.)

I guess you could ask if classes in art, history or music are effective? It’s hard to measure the results once you wander even a little distance from the hard sciences, and even they have trouble coming up with hard data at times. Many of the most important subjects like leadership are difficult to teach and have results hard to measure. Ethics is no different. We “cast our bread on the water” and hope for it to return.

James Pilant

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This is the New Blog Site – Pilant’s Business Ethics

I haven’t quite got everything worked out. The columns aren’t quite right and the pictures are still being cropped funny but this is the new site. It’s up and running. I hope many of you find it an improvement over the old one.

The focus has changed slightly, instead of a total focus on business ethics and the best business ethics writing, there will be more of an economic justice perspective. Over the past year, I have become more and more aware of how much ground the middle class of this nation has lost. I have also found the government of this nation to be less and less responsive to the needs of the general population.

So, I will often speak of business ethics but I will also talk about the suffering and cruelty inflicted on hard working Americans who have done all the right things but have not been rewarded for them. I want to talk about the damage done by corruption and greed all over the world because more and more that harm is no longer confined to one nation but is a matter of world concern.

I want you to let me know what you think about this blog and anything I write about. I have blogged when no one was reading and there were no comments. It is better to take some criticism than be ignored. So, comment when you can.

Whatever happens I thank you for reading my previous blog and any attention you pay to the new one.

My Best Wishes,

James Alan Pilant



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The Location of the New Site

Pilant’s Business Ethics

The Location of the New Site

James Pilant

It needs a lot of work but the prototype is up.

Be tough and criticize me harshly!! This new blog is supposed to be an improvement in terms of looks and performance to this one, so help me make it work by letting me know what you think.

However, remember it’s not really supposed to be ready until September 1st, and I have not got the categories straightened out yet. So, I am well aware I need to work on that.


James Pilant

(An official and more elegant announcement will be made on the first of September.)

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Business Ethics

"Social Justice," founded by Father ...

Image via Wikipedia

This is a site about business ethics, also referred to as economic justice.

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Socrates on Staying Smart (via Moralities and the Moral Republic)

Socrates on Staying Smart (via Moralities and the Moral Republic)

img166Live a life of constant learning and physical fitness. That is the way toward real life satisfaction. At least that’s the message I get from Greek philosophy. I suspect that the first ingredient described below – abiding by the laws of your God – is more difficult than studying and thinking to be smarter – and regular exercise.

Business ethics is relevant here for the thought that if a human being follows these three things a person must do, it is much less likely he will sin against himself or society.

James Pilant

“It is a matter of common knowledge that grave mistakes may often be traced to poor mental fitness. And because the mind is in a bad condition, loss of memory, depression and discontent often attack the it so violently as to drive out whatever knowledge it contains”

In Plato’s dialogue Laws he mentions the three most important things a person must do. The first is to abide by the laws of your God. The second is to always be improving your mind. The third, to keep yourself in top physical shape. The April 2011 post addressed why staying in shape is important. We now take liberties with that blog post and change it to what Socrates might have said about improving your mind. So here it goes. One day Socrates no … Read More

via Moralities and the Moral Republic

From around the web –

From the web site, Don Rothman. (Please visit the site and read the rest.)


Plato depicts Socrates as employing a range of strategies to sustain his interlocutors’ participation in the dialogue. Plato also reveals how Socrates’ companions sustain his participation, which I’ve thought less about than the former, since I’ve always thought of Socrates as the origination—the spark plug—the one whose participation is a given, needing nothing but his own daemon to sustain him.

But this seminar (led by Harry Berger and John Lynch) has, for reasons not clear yet, urged me to challenge this assumption. As with all efforts at human communication, as opposed to transmission, we are usually rewarded in our efforts to figure out what is occurring by paying attention to how agency or power doesn’t reside in one person.

There is no dialogue unless there are at least two voices. The Republic, as we keep noticing in our seminar, fails to meet some important criteria for healthy dialogue. But it is still, I’d say, both by custom and readers’ experience, a dialogue.

From the web site, T Smith14’s Blog.


While reading through Plato’s Apology it is very hard for me to
understand the thought process of Socrates. It is obvious that Socrates
is unlike any other human being with regards to life and death. In my
opinion, Socrates endulges in the prospect of death instead of
understanding the vast opportunities that life has to offer. In the Apology, Socrates
is charged with corrupting the youth, not recognizing the God’s of
Athens, and creating new dieties. Through the trial process, Socrates
offers an attitude of ignorance and sarcasm which obviously does not
hold well with the jury.

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Plato’s View on the Importance of Mind, Body and Wealth (via Moralities and the Moral Republic)

Plato's View on the Importance of Mind, Body and Wealth This comes from his 8th letter. It’s a view that can help maximize your happiness. Unfortunately society has it reversed which causes most of our problems. Plato argues: “Accept public laws and beliefs that you think will not arouse your desires and turn your thoughts toward money making and wealth. Of the three goods – soul/mind, body and wealth – your laws and public beliefs must give the highest honor to the excellence of the soul/mind, the se … Read More

via Moralities and the Moral Republic

Plato’s View on the Importance of Mind, Body and Wealth (via Moralities and the Moral Republic)

This comes closer to summing up what my blog site is about more than anything I have written myself.

James Pilant

From around the web –

From the web site, The Star Garden


Socrates held a rationalist approach to the theory of knowledge, which means that he believed true knowledge comes from the mind, which is rational, and not from the senses, which can be tricked. Socrates believed that the mind has an irrational part which is controlled by emotions and this is drawn to the body. Once the mind and body merge, the mind is limited by what we are able to perceive with our senses. The rational part of our mind mostly remains beyond our conscious knowledge, however Socrates argued that the best way for us to learn the truth about the world is to use rational thought to understand the true nature of ourselves. Socrates believed that it is the job of philosophers to connect to the rational mind in order to become a whole person. Once this is achieved, a rational person will see things for what they really are. 
From the web site, Beats Views.

English: Bust of Socrates in the Vatican Museum

English: Bust of Socrates in the Vatican Museum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Socrates’ lack of despair at his imminent execution warranted an
explanation to his associates; he gave a speech in which he defended his
lack of grievance towards his foreseeable death. Socrates stated that
philosophers should not fear death as they place more value on knowledge
than on material desires associated with the body. He emphasised that
death is no more than the separation of body and soul; when the soul
is released from the body. Simmias accepts the premise that philosophers
are unconcerned by physiological needs such as food, drink and sex;
rather, they keep their attention fixed on matters of the soul. For this
reason a philosopher should not be grieved at the thought of their
death, as, they detach themselves from concerns of the body, rather,
they look forward to the afterlife in which only that which concerns the
soul would exist. This would bring philosophers delight, whereas
‘ordinary people’ would struggle more with giving up that which is
experienced through the body and thus be grieved at the thought of
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Human Rights and the Endowment Effect (via P.a.p.-Blog | Human Rights Etc.)

This article refers and provides a link to the endowment effect. I had never heard of this economic theory. But now having read about it, I find it both fascinating and convincing. I appreciate the author bringing this idea to my attention.

I did not stop at reading this particular post, I explored the site reading a good number of posts. I very much enjoyed what I saw. I think you would profit by a similarly detailed look.

James Pilant

Human Rights and the Endowment Effect (source) Why do we say that people fighting for their rights are in fact fighting for the recognition of their rights? That people have rights even when the law doesn’t recognize these rights? That, in other words, people have moral rights that precede their legal rights? And that these moral rights can be used to evaluate and, if necessary, create their legal rights? At first sight, such statements imply the dubious ontological claim that moral … Read More

via P.a.p.-Blog | Human Rights Etc.

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