Business Ethics as Moral Imagination

Joanne B. Ciulla, University of Richmond


Business ethics would be a dull subject if ethics came in two off the rack colors, black and white. Most of us aren't lucky enough to have such simple ethical tastes. We're stuck with designer ethics, the decorator variety of moral puzzles that come in gray or spectacularly mixed tones of competing claims and conflicting duties. Gray is the color that thoughtful people often see when they initially confront an ethical problem. And gray problems seldom surrender to lily-white solutions. Sometimes we aren't quite sure we did the morally right thing. So, business ethics embraces much more than simply cultivating the ability to "Just say no" or "Just say yes" to clear-cut alternatives. It includes the discovering, anticipating, encountering, and constructing of moral problems, some of which are bona fide dilemmas, and the creating of workable solutions.