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|A History of Business Ethics |
|By Richard T. De George |
|The term 'business ethics' is used in a lot of different ways, and the history of business ethics will vary depending on |
|how one conceives of the object under discussion. The history will also vary somewhat on the historian—how he or she sees |
|the subject, what facts he or she seeks to discover or has at hand, and the relative importance the historian gives to |
|those facts. Hence the story I'm going to tell will be somewhat different from the story someone else might tell in various|
|particulars, and I hope that instead of being a dull recitation of facts it might in fact prompt some discussion at the end|
|by those who would tell a somewhat different story. |
|The story I will tell has three strands, because I believe the term business ethics is used in at least three different, |
|although related, senses. Which sense one chooses therefore gives priority to nature of the history of the topic. The |
|primary sense of the term refers to recent developments and to the period, since roughly the early 1970s, when the term |
|'business ethics' came into common use in the United States. Its origin in this sense is found in the academy, in academic |
|writings and meetings, and in the development of a field of academic teaching, research and publication. That is one strand|
|of the story. As the term entered more general usage in the media and public discourse, it often became equated with either|
|business scandals or more broadly with what can called "ethics in business." In this broader sense the history...

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