Spiritual Goods: Faith Traditions and the Practice of Business
Stewart W. Herman
From the Truly Real to Spiritual Wisdom
Religious Perspectives on Business Practice
This essay sketches a method for identifying the insights that diverse religious traditions offer to the field of business ethics. Each article in this volume asserts or assumes faith-based claims about what is "truly real" as the ground of moral aspiration and obligation. Four distinct kinds of claims yield four kinds of wisdom, that is, moral guidance for business practice. 1) In Judaism and Islam, scriptural commands, as interpreted authoritatively down through these traditions, yield precise methods for rendering specific moral judgments; in Roman Catholicism, similar guidance is provided through natural law. 2) In Buddhism, Judaism, and most of the surveyed Christian traditions, the values of compassion, love, and justice provide spiritual resources to counter pressures towards immoral behavior in business. 3) The African-American and Mennonite churches interpret their particular histories of oppression to offer distinctive models of fortitude and hope. 4) In Evangelical Calvinism, Mormonism, and Roman Catholic social teaching, convictions about God's redemptive and sanctifying activity offer a robust moral vision for successful striving.