Business Ethics: Can it be taught?

Business Ethics: Can it be taught?

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  The paper argues that the point of a business ethics course is to improve behavior in business, and that an essential ingredient in that improved behavior is knowing what’s right or wrong. To make that claim, the paper attempts to dispose of three arguments which support the contrary claim, that business ethics courses are useless. First, it is argued that morals can’t be taught, since they only result from training. Second, it is argued that such courses are unnecessary because business executives already know right from wrong. Third, it is argued that ethical knowledge is Impossible, so there Is nothing to teach. The first two arguments are dealt with briefly, and the third is addressed extensively. The paper argues that the skepticism about ethical knowledge is part of a pervasive “relativism” in our society, but shows that such a relativism/skepticism is untenable and indicates how ethical knowledge is possible. If, then, knowledge of right and wrong is an essential ingredient for improving business behavior, and such knowledge can be imparted in an ethics course, there is some point to teaching business ethics.

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