I don’t believe that societal business ethics are divorced from personal ethics. Society isn’t a business, that’s not my point. People are businesses, and we should take care of our businesses.
What is my point? Businesses? Businesses. And yes, we should take care of our businesses. I’ve always found it interesting that this is the same point of view many people who are against capitalism, in general, have.
The reason for this is because capitalism is based on the idea that a certain amount of profit (or earnings) is to be had by those who participate in its economy. In order to make the maximum amount of money, you need to make all the business decisions yourself. So, you can’t just say, “Well you know, everyone should start making their own decisions in this economy.” Because then you’re eliminating the decision making.
The problem with capitalism is that it takes decisions away from us, and we are left with a situation where the majority of people are just making decisions for others, and they are making them as individuals rather than being part of a group. It is true that capitalism has to give us some benefits, but we are also left with the problem that we don’t even know what we are giving up, or what we are getting in return.
It does not matter what your “benefits” are, or who you are giving them to. What matters is what you give up. In the case of capitalists, they are giving you stuff. What you are giving up is your time and energy.
That is why when it comes to business ethics, you have to look at it from the perspective of a human being, not some abstract concept. It is not a concept that you have to know or comprehend to be moral, but rather it is a set of behaviors.
On a societal level, businesses, whether big corporations or small mom-and-pop shops, are expected to treat people as human beings, not as commodities. When it comes to corporations, they are not expected to give up their profits or the power they wield. People who run businesses are encouraged to be conscientious citizens who treat people as fellow beings with equal rights. It is not a given that people who work for corporations will be conscientious citizens.
But on an individual level, on the other hand, corporate social-justice workers are not allowed to ask people to work for them. This is because these people use their power to try to push people into taking on a life of their own, to use the power and money that they wield to take away people’s freedom. And on a personal level, this is where the power of corporations comes into play.
The question is, can corporations use their power to do harm on an individual level? Yes, they can, sometimes. There are plenty of cases when a corporation can use its power to do things that are morally wrong. But the line between corporate and personal wrongdoing is very thin.
There are some instances when corporations can use their position in society to harm individuals. In some instances, they can take actions that harm people that are not ethical. But in the majority of situations, corporations can use their position to harm individuals without any moral constraints. Corporate power to harm people without moral constraints is called “torture.