How should we treat other people? How should we treat animals? How should we deal with unborn and future generations? How should we deal with issues related to poverty, sexuality, reproduction, environment, immigration, health care, etc.? What is the right thing to do and how do we determine what the right thing is?
Everybody thinks consciously or subconsciously about these questions, regardless of cultural background, nationality, profession, gender or age. Every day as a citizen, entrepreneur, employee or organization we decide on a larger or smaller scale what we should do. The considerations that we so consciously or subconsciously make on what we should do, depend on our vision of what is right and wrong.
For centuries the fields of ethics examines the question ‘what is the right thing to do?’ critically and scientifically. Ethicists develop and analyzes theories to determine how we should behave. They search for foundations, guidelines and criteria. This research is done in a methodological way, based on the rules of logic and argumentation. There are already several ethical theories developed over the centuries about how to decide what is right or wrong.
Every business, every organization and every person needs ethics. Certain disciplines or industries are not dismissed from ethical research, because they are supposedly be good. The sustainable industry, the organic food industry and the non – profit sector are not necessarily good and conversely, the financial sector, the construction sector and political sector are not by definition bad.
Ideally, we first examine the ethical theories and determine what acts are right and wrong. In practice, our acts are usually based on vague ideas. Ethics is needed to clarify the underlying viewpoints and analyze whether they are consistent and valid. If you do not know clearly why you do what you do, you risk not being able to justify for your actions. You must be able to justify for your actions because you are not alone in this world: your behavior affects others, such as the actions of others affect you, whether you like it or not.