Principles of Business Ethics and Business Legitimacy

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In a report to the European Commission from an EU-BIO-MED-II Research Project with 22 Partners from different European countries, researchers proposed four ethical principles as guiding ideas for a European ethical and legal culture.
Researchers had chosen to investigate the concepts of autonomy, dignity, integrity, and vulnerability. This research on bioethics and biolaw was mainly about how to give these ethical principles meaning in bioethics and law. However, during the research for this book emerged awareness that the ethical principles being classical ethical ideas with a fundamental significance for European culture do not only apply in bioethics but might have significance in other ethical fields, in particular business ethics, corporate social responsibility and business legitimacy. This chapter shows how the values of autonomy, dignity, integrity, and vulnerability can be applied in business ethics as the basis for business legitimacy. In this perspective, the ethical principles constitute a core of protection of human persons including their rights to economic development and the duty of civil society and its corporations not to let human beings be eliminated in subhuman conditions of poverty and misery. The argument is that the concepts of basic ethical principles have fundamental significance both at the individual and at the organizational level – and in addition that they provide an important foundation for ethical standards of sustainability in a future global culture of human rights. The chapter provides a brief outline of the meaning of the concepts in business ethics illustrated by some examples of the uses of the concepts in different fields of business ethics as the foundation of business legitimacy.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Business Legitimacy : Responsibility, Ethics and Society
EditorsJacob Dahl Rendtorff
Number of pages26
Place of PublicationCham
Publication date2020
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-14621-4
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-14622-1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Ethical Principles
  • Institutional responsibility
  • Organizational integrity
  • Sustainable development
  • Vulnerability

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