The First Principle

The First Principle of Business Ethics?

Should the inherent value of human life be the first principle of Business Ethics? I believe so and what is more, I believe we should teach it that way. And we should start teaching it now.

Surely, there is enough intellectual thrust in the idea of human life as a value that we can teach it to our students. Not teaching it is wrong. It is a base concept in our ideas of civilization. The depth of the idea in every major religion provides further evidence that it is something of a universal concept. But there is much philosophical support for it as well.

We do no honor to the separation of church and state by claiming neutrality in regard to the importance of human life.

It needs to be in every book of business ethics enshrined as a basic concept.

Current events demonstrate the need for a greater focus on morality and ethics in training our youth.

There are more than 140,000 dead and millions infected in this nation as of today. We may have according to one estimate by the CDC, 300,000 dead by the end of the year.

We have not properly mourned these people. And for many of our leadership and political class they might be road kill in terms of significance. Not only have we failed to celebrate their lives, many believe that the disease is a hoax and there fore their deaths are some kind of “fake news.”

What kind of society have we become where humans are discarded with little thought and an obvious contempt for their lives? When did we arrive at the point where the basic fact of 140,000 dead have so little effect on policy? How did we get to a place where significant portions of the population have become deniers of reality and followers of bizarre conspiracy theories such as Qanon.

If we were to be engaged with some foreign threat akin to the Second World War, are there enough of us willing to act in concert as fellow Americans to put up a fight? You find that an exaggeration? How many Americans are refusing the simple precaution of wearing a mask to protect themselves and others?

How does our society view people now? Basically they are seen by our ruling class as consumers and workers, and if you pare that down, money.

I don’t believe that healthy cultures, healthy nations, consider people only in terms of how much money value they produce and how much burden they are when they are old.  

Healthy cultures value human life, pursue the common good, regulate the excesses of capitalism and have a sense of solidarity, what we used to be brotherhood.

We can bring business ethics teaching more in line with that of a healthy society. Getting the basic concepts of morality and ethics out in the business community would be very helpful in building a better society.

James Pilant