We cannot easily resolve this tension betweenthe ethical interests of the money-mindedbusinessperson and the ideal-minded philosopher. Inmost issues of business ethics, ideal moral principleswill be checked by economic viability. To understandwhat is at stake, we will look at three different ways of deriving standards of business ethics.
Deriving Business Ethics from the Profit Motive.
Some businesspeople argue that there is a symbioticrelation between ethics and business in which ethicsnaturally emerges from a profit-oriented business. Thereare both weak and strong versions of this approach. Theweak version is often expressed in the dictum that
good ethics results in good business
, which simply means thatmoral businesses practices are profitable. For example,it is profitable to make safe products since this willreduce product liability lawsuits. Similarly, it may be inthe best financial interests of businesses to respectemployee privacy, since this will improve morale andthus improve work efficiency. Robert F. Hartley's book,
, takes this approach. Using 20 casestudies as illustrations, Hartley argues that the long-termbest interests of businesses are served by seeking atrusting relation with the public (Hartley, 1993). Thisweak version, however, has problems. First, many moral