Editor’s Note: The following new entry by Jeffrey Moriarty replaces the former entry on this topic by the previous author. The first of these discredited folk theories – and the one that is most often used to argue against the introduction of ethics courses into our business schools – is that morality is a matter of character and that, by the time students enroll in business programs, it is too late beause their values have already been formed and the die has been cast.
As an economist, Friedman emphasized that corporate officers had the sole responsibility of maximizing profits for the shareholders as long as the law was adhered to. As a for-profit corporation, the leaders should not use corporate funds for social welfare simply because they felt it was socially responsible.
I. A corporate organization exists” only if (1) there exists certain human individuals who are in certain circumstances and relationships, and (2) our linguistic and social conventions lay down that when those kinds of individuals exists in those kinds of circumstances and relationships, they shall count as a corporate organization.
Many equate ethics” with conscience or a simplistic sense of right” and wrong.” Others would say that ethics is an internal code that governs an individual’s conduct, ingrained into each person by family, faith, tradition, community, laws, and personal mores.
In response to the claim that firms put themselves at a competitive disadvantage if they do, writers have pointed to actual cases where firms have been able to secure better treatment for sweatshop workers without suffering serious financial penalties (Hartman, Arnold, & Wokutch 2003).