Why and How Business Ethics Benefits from Family. Where Trust, Responsibility and Ethics Develop
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This article analyzes the role a family play in the context of business and society. Although it may seem obvious enough that this primary group is fundamental for social organization, certain aspects of this impact, which in the end influences ethical development of social actors are described. The article concentrates on such issues as gift, trust and responsibility as the elements that are naturally present in family life. The problem is presented in an interdisciplinary way because the nature of the issue demands and requires it. Engaging the category of family is import ant mainly because it has been underemphasized, and this lack of focus has inadvertently supported the domination of the individualistic perspective in economics and business. Such a paradigm is not only the symptom of short-term thinking but also the proof of narrow and reduced anthropology of the economic actor. Families are where people learn the logic of “gift,” which is as necessary in business as in other social spheres. George Gilder wrote that “capitalism begins with giving. Not from greed, avarice, or even self-love can one expect the rewards of commerce, but from a spirit closely akin to altruism, a regard for the needs of others, a benevolent, outgoing, and courageous temper of mind” (Gilder 1993, p. 21). As such, we should thoroughly examine the role that gift giving plays in the functioning of economy. Secondly, the unique role that a family plays in trust development is presented. According to analysis of Jennifer Roback Morse, familie are where people learn to trust. Thirdly, the ability to trust is analyzed as the background for the development of responsibility, a key to developing an ethical attitude. The findings of the paper should help to diagnose the causes of the responsibility crisis and enrich reflection on business ethics by presenting family life as fundamental element in understanding the nature of economic actor and offering family as a useful perspective to understand the process of ethical evaluation of business activity.
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