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Are Social Ethics Dead?

By Edited Apr 25, 2016 4 13

Sign at Occupy San Francisco

Ethics issues are taking shape in a big way in the world. The "Arab Spring" was the beginning of the social ethics outcome (my term) from a ruling class that dismissed cultural relativism. That is part of the description of the moral analysis of what transpired. What should be, wasn't, and the people made changes. Now, in the United States there is a growing protest about the outcome of the economic downfall - an anti-greed protest of sorts by the Occupy Wall Street protesters. A sign seen in a protester's hand reads, "Evict Congress."  The current events of the gaining-momentum-with-all-different-people movement is being compared to the Arab Spring, yet it feels more like an October revolution to me.

The social ethics outcome being witnessed through the massive discontent of diminished corporate social responsibility may in itself be a revival of social ethics in the sense of rescuing a failed business ethic. To many citizens this translates to greed and an un-doing of legal ethics in the workplace ethics realm. Perhaps one could say that the personal ethics of a corporate head morphed into marketing ethics, managerial ethics, and a dismal, doomed narcissistic greed that eventually became known. The problem may be that becoming known but not punished or truly held accountable for the big theft has made for angry masses of people who felt the pain of the outcome.

The corporate conscience has been morphed into an un-trustworthy, highly suspicious mentality, and it may be about time that the truth of the matter is revealed. Corporate practices that hurt the public are still taking place. There are daily examples on investigative news reports on most major networks of intervention with some major bank still trying to foreclose on an innocent homeowner. Corporate self-regulation promoting the 3 p's of people, planet, and profit needs an overhaul. The profit bottom line has squashed out the responsible social performance of the corporate mentality to people and the planet. "Commitment to communities" is a catch phrase often seen in corporate advertisements to lure civic minded people into their business. Granted, not all the corporations have dismissed professional ethics for bottom line profit, but the ones that have are being questioned and sometimes punished.The effect of the impact of the lack of measuring what the profit greed actions have done are a part of the indifference shown by corporate conscience. Social accounting about a corporation's economic policies to the public is now urgently demanding transparency by the public.

Besides the public outcries via the investigative journalists taking corporations on via the television, written and digital medias, and the Occupy Wall Street movement, there are others.
A new nonprofit online magazine/daily newsletter, Nation of Change, offers this philosophy:
We are committed to peace, social equality, human rights, and environmental conservation. We believe that dedicated individuals armed with knowledge and fueled by compassion and optimism can enact dramatic change even in a world fraught with corruption and injustice. They do not accept funding from advertisements or corporations. That is huge. The site is filled with well-written articles about the present economic, political and environmental states of this nation, and the world at large. It, too, is gaining momentum with readers and writers.

Ethispere is another online site that is considered a research institute dedicated to best business practices offers this mission statement: In an age of deeper government scrutiny of business operations, increased civil and criminal penalties for compliance failure, and heightened consumer awareness and sophistication, organizations that want to lead realize that there is a direct link between ethics and profits. Ethisphere Magazine was created to illuminate this important correlation.

Our mission is to help corporate executives guide their enterprises toward gaining market share and creating sustainable competitive advantage through better business practices and corporate citizenship. Thought-provoking, entertaining, informative and at times irreverent, Ethisphere Magazine is the must-read publication for all things ethics and compliance. They offer a community resource center for members to establish and maintain business ethics for good, smart, business profits. They do accept advertising. On their events calendar an upcoming live event is titled, "Anti-Corruption Developments & Best Practices." Membership is required to attend, and a cost is involved. They are not a non-profit, and they do have partners. Perhaps they are a good indication of a stab at holding corporations ethically responsible.

Both the given examples are a glimmer of hope that although morality changes within cultures, perhaps public opinion will reform corporate opinion. Ethical principals can be discussed, agreed upon, implemented, and then forgotten by any perceived powerful rulers of any corporation, mob, nation, or institution. The power of a cultural view is now behaving in a way to even the huge distinction between the moral thinking of what was supposed to be and what wasn't.

As long as there is an ethics education available for people to make effective moral decisions (not saying what is right and what is wrong), there is the greater possibility for correction to injustice, and the making of un-regrettable moral decisions. Studying ethical theory is utmost to including all living beings to serve a universal principle of equality. The quagmire we are experiencing in the current depression (it's way past the recession definition) is an example of division in the playing field of life on earth. Division between the haves and have-nots on a global level. It is a disturbing, daily, in-the-face reminder of inequality.

The philosophy of ethics deserves study, especially in this stalled economic recovery. The moral intuitions of ordinary folks are catching up with the real-life issues of identifying contradictions in maintenance of social ethics. Unfortunately the breaking news headlines are pointing out more of a financial elite rule in the nation, and the empire tends to crumble piece by piece. I don't mean unfortunate in the sense of more being revealed, but unfortunate towards the continual revelations of dead social ethics.

Maybe all this is a divine, unfolding prelude to the year 2012. Maybe hope will be released from Pandora's box.


Occupy sign in San Francisco protest
Credit: Victorgrigas


Oct 14, 2011 5:02pm
I do hope that social ethics will increase in the near future! Fascinating article.
Oct 14, 2011 6:14pm
Thanks DD, something is brewing, that's for sure.
Oct 17, 2011 6:10am
Excellent article. Thanks of the heads up on Nation of Change and Ethispere. I will have to explore those sites.
Oct 17, 2011 12:14pm
You are welcome. My daughter turned me onto Nation of Change.
Nov 15, 2011 5:27am
I've been watching very closely. Great article footloose, as usual. Thumbs up from me.
Nov 15, 2011 5:53pm
I appreciate your words and glad you are watching too!
Nov 15, 2011 10:41am
A thumbs up from me as well, great article. I agree, they is something brewing.
Nov 15, 2011 5:53pm
Yes... and it's not tea!
Nov 21, 2011 1:34am
things are about to change
Nov 22, 2011 1:41pm
Great article you should look into the Zeitgeist Movement and see how they are working towards a sustainable future for the entire world. Very interesting stuff!
Nov 23, 2011 4:16pm
Thanks for your comment. I did see the film a couple of years ago, thanks for the reminder!
Nov 23, 2011 11:17pm
Very relevant and thought-provoking article. Well done! We can all do our part in effecting this change, we can start within our homes, especially with our children by teaching and helping them internalize good and proper ethical values.
Nov 25, 2011 10:53am
Right on!
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  1. "Corporate social responsibility." Wikipedia. 2011.

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