Empathy in Business Ethics Education

Journal of Business Ethics Education 9:359-375 (2012)
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Abstract

This paper addresses the tactical question of how we ought to proceed in teachingbusiness ethics, taking as a starting point that business ethics should be concerned with cooperative,mutually beneficial outcomes, and in particular with fostering behavior that contributes to thoseoutcomes. This paper suggests that focus on moral reasoning as a tactical outcome—as a way ofachieving behavior in support of cooperative outcomes—is misplaced. Instead, we ought to focuson cultivating empathetic experiences. Intuitively, the problem we need to address in business ethicsis not that our students (and that we ourselves) sometimes reason poorly, or that moral decisionmakingis subject to characteristic kinds of errors. The problem is that our students (and—again—we ourselves) do not always care enough, we do not modify our behavior consistently enough.

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Marc A. Cohen
Seattle University

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