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Ethics in Management

In: Business and Management

Submitted By Levintra
Words 34877
Pages 140
3 Sources of Moral Obligation by Josephson Institute on February 14, 2011
A duty is an obligation to act in a certain way. When the obligation is based on moral and ethical considerations, it is a moral duty. Often we think about moral duties in terms of rules that restrain us, the “don’ts,” as in don’t lie, cheat, or steal. Such rules comprise the so-called negative dimension of moral duty because they tell us what not to do. Since ethics is concerned with the way we ought to be, however, it also includes an affirmative dimension consisting of things we should do — keep promises, judge others fairly, treat people with respect, kindness and compassion.
Sources of Moral Obligation
Moral obligations can arise from three sources. The first, strangely enough, is law.
1. Law-Based Moral Obligations. Good citizens have a moral as well as a legal obligation to abide by laws; it is part of the assumed social contract of a civilized society. If a law is unjust, however, (such as those that mandated ethnic and religious persecution during the Nazi regime and those that discriminated against a person on the basis of race in South Africa and elsewhere) there may be a moral obligation to disobey it under the specific and demanding doctrine of civil disobedience.
Many, but by no means all, of these moral standards of conduct are so fundamental to healthy social relations that they have been codified into laws. For example, most aspects of the moral duty to not endanger or harm others are embraced in criminal and civil laws prohibiting homicide, assaults, drunk driving, and other dangerous behavior.
Similarly, the ethical duty to be honest is enforceable by laws forbidding perjury, robbery, forgery, fraud, and defamation among others. Nevertheless, in struggling to be an ethical person we need to remember that many forms of dishonesty remain solely within the moral domain.

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