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Business Ethics Quarterly

Volume 7, Issue 3, July 1997

Hans Küng
Pages 17-31
DOI: 10.2307/3857310

A Global Ethic in an Age of Globalization

Starting from the four theses that globalization is unavoidable, ambivalent, incalculable, and can be controlled rationally, ethics has an indispensable and important role to play in the process of globalization. Indeed, a number of international documents published in the 1990s not only acknowledge human rights but also speak explicitly of human responsibilities. The author pleads for the primacy of ethics over politics and economics and, in reviewing both the Interfaith Declaration for Jews, Christians, and Muslims, and the Caux Roundtable Principles for Business Conduct, he raises the question about the foundation for the unconditional validity of particular basic ethical values and attitudes. In Küng’s view, no universal ethic, but only religion, expressed by the three prophetic religions, the mystical religions of Indian origin, and the wisdom religions of Chinese origin, can provide this foundation. Yet, religion as a spiritual resource intends to influence concrete behavior and decision making. Therefore, the author stresses the importance of a personality culture for business executives and an “ethic of responsibility” to shape business culture and institutions. He then proposes the Declaration of the Parliament of the World’s Religions Toward a Global Ethic as a basis to develop a business ethics that can be supported by believers and non-believers alike.

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