Markkula Center of Applied Ethics

SACRED TEXTS FOR BUSINESS ETHICS

By Kirk O. Hanson, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, Santa Clara University

Center Executive Director Kirk O. Hanson spoke to a colloquium convened by Santa Clara University's Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education on April 18, 2013. He was asked to identify and speak on the five "sacred texts" of business ethics, documents which capture the highest ideals and values to be pursued by business ethics. He selected the following five documents. Links are provided.

  1. UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

    Adopted by the United Nations in 1948.
    http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml

  2. UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RESPONSIBILITIES

    Proposed by the InterAction Council, an association of former presidents and prime ministers, to the United Nations in 1997. Primary author is Catholic theologian Hans Kung. Not adopted by the UN.
    http://interactioncouncil.org/universal-declaration-human-responsibilities

  3. TEN PRINCIPLES OF THE UNITED NATIONS GLOBAL COMPACT

    Voluntary principles proposed in 2000 by United National Secretary General Kofi Annan for adoption by businesses worldwide. As of 2013, more than 10,000 companies in 130 countries are signatories. http://www.unglobalcompact.org/AboutTheGC/TheTenPrinciples/

  4. GUIDING PRINCIPLES ON BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS

    Proposed voluntary principles issued in 2011 by the United Nations Special Representative John Ruggie. Also known as the Ruggie Principles. Designed to make more explicit the responsibilities of businesses under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council. http://www.unglobalcompact.org/docs/issues_doc/human_rights/Resources/IntroToGPs.pdf

  5. CARITAS IN VERITATE

    Encyclical letter of Pope Benedict XVI, issued June 29, 2009. The latest of papal social encyclicals, this letter addresses the social and ethical role of business firms and those who work in and lead businesses. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20090629_caritas-in-veritate_en.html

April, 2013