Bartels defines ethics as the pile of moral principles and values determined by society. He points out ethics guides people what good or bad is, and what correct or wrong is and what duties and responsibilities are (1). As Akarsu says in one newspaper article, ethics is universal, it is thinking on moral and also moral attitude. This attitude is to see every living being as equal (2). It means to behave by angle of human rights and respect to man, and survival right is the first.
According to the philosophies, environment means humanity. Today's ethics approaches note depending on keeping human wants under pressure for the benefits of all human beings. By these words environment includes not only men, but also animals, plants, i.e., the nature.
Ethics occurs by relations of humans with themselves, and their physical and social environment. Therefore, the origin of the problems and solution is human. The philosophies note many approaches in these relations. These approaches can be grouped into three groups:
- The human-oriented approach
- The living oriented approach
- The environment oriented approach
Every approach describes one of parts of the whole environmental ethics. But the common point of these approaches is that all human beings and their equal rights take place in the ecosystem. By the new approach in the concept of deep ecology it is accepted that the diversity of the ecosystem has an internal value and no one has any right to decrease this diversity and difference.
For centuries, people have established a lot of establishments to achieve these goals. Human beings have seen that producing something by cooperation is more productive and effective than doing it alone, so they have established enterprises. They have seen unlimited needs, increasing wants and scarcity of objects and they have also seen establishing enterprises as a way of producing more. But in this century humans saw a lot of impacts from our living. Air, water and soil pollution, the danger of consuming natural resources, acid rain, gas, dust and liquids industries caused, soiling of natural foods, industrial pollution and dangerous wastes, just to mention a few problems we face.
These environmental problems make us reconsider the goals of organizations and their responsibilities to the society and nature. The organizational goals are often not environmentally friendly. In some events the goal of the establishment is opposite to the environment and sometimes organizational activities damage the environment in achieving the goals. In this process, we should emphasize the reasons why they should have responsibility. First, they use environmental resources and resources are limited. Second, they damage the environment by their activities. Third, they use common assets of mankind.
Finally, the enterprises have various forces to influence the environment: Economic force, social and cultural force, technological force, politic force, forces on individuals and physical environment (3).
In spite of these impacts and forces of establishments, there is no social control system on the activities of enterprises. This point emphasizes business ethics terms as an institutional framework, i.e., social ethics. As an institutional term, social ethics means searching ethical norms to protect the social benefits, and determining the possibilities for achieving a kind society. Then, business ethics means, the norms, duties, responsibilities, courses of actions of enterprises to protects the benefits of whole society.
In a broader view, because of the impacts on the natural and social environment, business ethics concepts determine the responsibilities towards ecosystem. It is the common denominator of business ethics and environmental ethics is the interrogation of relations and dilemmas between economy and nature, man and society.
According to the common classification of conceptual approaches on business ethics, there are three approaches (4). The first approach reconciles ethical values with economic goals. The second approach gives priority to the ethical values. According to Ulrich, a new multidimensional goal system should replace to the profit maximization. And the third approach is pragmatic approach. In this approach, the attitudes model of business managers is the focus of interests.
The last two approaches are very important for us to develop a new concept and term on business ethics. The approach which gives priority to the ethical values is important, because the enterprises are not a purpose, they are only a tool which we use to get benefits. If this tool causes various damages on the ecosystem to get profit, then we should revise our organizational goals, targets and activities. A pragmatic approach is characterized with the importance of individual conscience and discussion of alternative individual courses of actions.
Therefore, these two approaches define the new term business ethics as an institutional concept. This concept includes both organizational responsibility and individual duties as business managers, also covered the ecosystem. We can name this concept as "environment oriented business ethics" or "enterprise ethics".
As determined above, if people are the focus of the problems
and solution, educating people becomes our great responsibility.
People should be educated as a member of business organizations.
This education process should begin in childhood and continue
during our life.
1. Bartels, Robert, Ethics in Business, Ohio State Univ.,
Ohio, 1963, p.116.
2. Akarsu, Bedia, Custom, Moral, Ethics, Cumhuriyet, July, 26, 1997, p.2.
3. Schulze, Nergis, "A Conceptual Approach to the Business Ethics", TODAIE, V: 30, N: 4, December, 1997, p.37.
4. Ibid., pp.40-45.