Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Business ethics: Where have all the Christians gone?

  • 124 Accesses

  • 29 Citations

Abstract

The paper starts by giving a historical and philosophical explanation for the current separation between theology and economics. It is then argued that postmodern culture offers the church and theology an opportunity to get reinvolved in the world of business, and especially in Business Ethics. Before opportunities for involvement is discussed, the question on the unique nature of Christians ethics is posed. The notion of Christian ethics as essentially an understanding of reality is proposed and defended against rival interpretations of Christians ethics. Finally the role that the church and theology can play in developing business morality on the marco-, meso-, and micro-economic levels are discussed.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Aristole: 1978,The Ethics of Aristotle: the Nicomochaen Ethics (translated by J. A. K. Thokson, revised ed by H. Treddenick, Penguin, Middlesex).

  2. Ayer, A. J.: 1985, ‘Emotivism’, in M. Velasquez and Rostankowski, C. (eds.),Ethics: Theory and Practice (Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.), pp. 20–22.

  3. Bickham, S.: 1988, ‘The Bishops' Pastoral: A New Theory of Justice’,Journal of Business Ethics 7, 437–443.

  4. Blackburn, T.: 1981,Christian Business Ethics: Doing Good While Doing Well (Fides/Clarentian, Chigaco).

  5. Cahoone, L. E.: 1988,The Dilemma of Modernity: Philosophy, Culture, and Anti-Culture (State University of New York Press, Albany, N.Y.).

  6. Camenish, P.: 1986, ‘On Monopoly in Business Ethics: Can Philosophy do it All?’,Journal of Business Ethics 5(6), 433–444.

  7. Camenish, P.: 1987, ‘Recent Mainline Protestant Statements on Economic Justice’, in D. M. Yeager (ed.),The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics (Georgetown University Press, Washington, D.C.), pp. 55–77.

  8. Camenisch, P. and D. McCann: 1990, ‘Christian Religious Traditions’, in C. C. Walton (ed.),Enriching Business Ethics (Plenum Press, New York), pp. 3–38.

  9. Cox, H.: 1984,Religion in the Secular City: Toward a Postmodern Theology (Simon and Schuster, New York).

  10. Deal, T. E. and A. A. Kennedy: 1982,Corporate Cultures: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life (Addison Wesley Publishing Company, Reading, Ma.)

  11. Goldberg, M.: 1992, ‘Corporate Culture and the Corporate Cult’, in O. F. Williams and J. W. Houck (eds.),A Virtuous Life in Business: Stories of Courage and Integrity in the Corporate World (Rowan and Littlefield Publishers, Lanham), pp. 29–50

  12. Gustafson, J. M. and E. W. Johnson: 1982, ‘The Corporate Leader and the Ethical Resources of Religion: a Dialogue’, in O. F. Williams and J. W. Houck (eds.),The Judeo-Christian Vision and the Modern Corporation (University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame), pp. 306–329.

  13. Hart, H. and K. Nielsen: 1990,Search for Community in a Withering Tradition: Conversations between a Marxist and a Calvinian Christian (University Press of America, New York).

  14. Hauerwas, S.: 1981,A Community of Character: Toward a Constructive Christian Social Ethic (University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame).

  15. Hebblethwaite, B.: 1982,Christian Ethics in the Modern Age (Westminister Press, Philadelphia).

  16. Herberg, W.: 1982, ‘Business Enterprise in Moral Perspective’, in D. G. Jones (ed.),Business, Religion, and Ethics (Oelgeschlager, Gunn and Hain Publishers, Cambridge, Ma), pp. 45–54.

  17. Jones, D. G.: 1982,Business, Religion, and Ethics (Oelgeschlager, Gunn and Hain Publishers, Cambridge, Ma), pp. 207–226.

  18. Jones, R. H.: 1982, ‘The Transnational Enterprise: Business and Religious Perspectives’, in D. G. Jones (ed.),Business, Religion, and Ethics (Oclgeschlager, Gunn and Hain Publishers, Cambridge, Ma), pp. 21–30.

  19. Krikorian, R. V.: 1982, ‘Plain Talk About Public Trust’, in D. G. Jones (ed.),Business, Religion, and Ethics (Oelgeschlager, Gunn and Hain Publishers, Cambridge, Ma), pp. 159–166.

  20. Kung, H.: 1991,Global Responsibility: In Search of a New World Ethic (Crossroads, New York).

  21. Leahy, J. T.: 1986, ‘Embodied Ethics: Some Common Concerns of Religion and Business’,Journal of Business Ethics 5, 465–472.

  22. May, W. W.: 1982, ‘Dominating Spires of Business and Social Responsibility’, in D. G. Jones (ed.),Business, Religion, and Ethics (Oelgeschlager, Gunn and Hain Publishers, Cambridge, Ma), pp. 167–176.

  23. McCoy, C. S.: 1992, ‘Narrative Theology and Business Ethics: Story Based Management of Values’, in O. F. Williams and J. W. Houck (eds.),A Virtuous Life in Business: Stories of Courage and integrity in the Corporate World (Rowan and Littlefield Publishers, Lanham), pp. 51–72.

  24. Meyer, J. R. and J. M. Gustafson: 1988, ‘Epilogue: For Whom Does the Corporation Toil?’, in J. R. Meyer and J. M. Gustafson (eds.),The U.S. Business Corporation: An Institution in Transition (Ballinger Publishing Company, Cambridge), pp. 211–234.

  25. Novak, M.: 1982: ‘God and Man in the Corporation’, in D. G. Jones (ed.),Business, Religion, and Ethics (Oelgeschlager, Gunn and Hain Publishers, Cambridge, Ma), pp. 69–88.

  26. Pannenberg, W.: 1981,Ethics (The Westminster Press, Philadelphia).

  27. Pierce, G.: 1992, ‘Should Catholics Be More Moral Than Other Workers’,Catholic News Service 21(42), March 26, 678–684.

  28. Richard, L.: 1988,Is There a Christian Ethics? (Paulist Press, New York).

  29. Schlender, W. E.: 1982, ‘Countervailing Values in Business Decisionmaking: Exploring Alternatives to Ambiguity’, in D. G. Jones (ed.),Business, Religion, and Ethics (Oelgesch-lager, Gunn and Hain Publishers, Cambridge, Ma), pp. 183–194.

  30. Sen, A. K.: 1987,On Ethics and Economics (Basil Blackwell, Oxford).

  31. Shriver, D. W.: 1982, ‘What Business Managers Need to Know About the Clergy’, in D. G. Jones (ed.),Business, Religion, and Ethics (Oelgeschlager, Gunn and Hain Publishers, Cambridge, Ma), pp. 119–129.

  32. Stuhlmueller, C.: 1988, ‘Option for the Poor: Old Testament Directives’, in J. Pawlikowski and D. Senior (eds),Economic Justice: CTU's Pastoral Commentary on the Bishops' Letter on the Economy (The Pastoral Press, Washington), pp. 19–27.

  33. Tawney, R. H.: 1962,Religion and the Rise of Capitalism: a Historical Study (Holland Memorial Lectures, 1922) (Peter Smith, Gloucester, MA).

  34. U.S. Catholic Conference: 1986,Economic Justice for All. Pastoral Letter on Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy (United States Catholic Conference, Inc., Washington, D.C.).

  35. Walton, C. C.: 1990, ‘Business Ethics: Widening the Lens’, in C. C. Walton (ed.),Enriching Business Ethics (Plenum Press, New York), pp. 3–38.

  36. Weber, M.: 1958,The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (Charles Scribner's Sons, New York).

  37. Wilbur, J. B.: 1988, ‘Self-Interest and Community’,Journal of Business Ethics 7, 453–458.

  38. Williams, O. F.: 1982, ‘Introduction in Williams O. F. and Houck J. W.’,The Judeo-Christian Vision and the Modern Corporation (University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame), pp. 1–21.

  39. Williams, O. F.: 1982, ‘Christian Formation for Corporation Life’, in D. G. Jones (ed.),Business, Religion, and Ethics (Oelgeschlager, Gunn and Hain Publishers, Cambridge, Ma), pp. 131–136.

  40. Williams, O. F.: 1986, ‘Can Business Ethics be Theological? What Athens Can Learn from Jerusalem’,Journal of Business Ethics 5(6), 473–484.

  41. Williams, O. F. and P. E. Murphy: 1992, ‘The Ethics of Virtue: A Moral Theory for Business’, in O. F. Williams and J. W. Houck (eds.),A Virtuous Life in Business: Stories of Courage and Integrity in the Corporate World (Rowan and Littlefield Publishers, Lanham), pp. 9–27.

  42. Wogaman, J. P.: 1982, ‘The Case for Laissez Faire Capitalism: A Protestant Viewpoint’, in D. G. Jones (ed.),Business, Religion, and Ethics (Oelgeschlager, Gunn and Hain Publishers, Cambridge, Ma), pp. 99–117.

  43. Wogaman, J. P.: 1986,Economics and Ethics: a Christian Inquiry (Fortress Press, Philadelphia).

Download references

Author information

Additional information

Dr. Gedeon J. Rossouw is associate professor in Philosophy and Business Ethics at the Rand Afrikaans University in Johannesburg, South Africa. He is also involved in training and consultation on moral business culture for a number of South African corporations. His book: “Business Ethics: made in South Africa” is due to be published in the second half of 1993.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Rossouw, G.J. Business ethics: Where have all the Christians gone?. J Bus Ethics 13, 557–570 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00881301

Download citation

Keywords

  • Economic Growth
  • Business Ethic
  • Defend
  • Meso
  • Unique Nature