When To Pad The Expense Account

Ethics in Business, by Thomas M. Garrett, S. J. (Sheed & Ward, 1963, 190 pp., S3.95), is reviewed by Clarence Bauman, assistant professor of theology and ethics, Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, Indiana.

This book is written on the assumption that in principle everyone favors business ethics. Its purpose is to inform those who know most about ethics of the realities of business, and to assist those in the business world in developing moral principles that are rationally valid and realistic.

The author introduces the dilemma of business ethics by a descriptive analysis of the conformist whose failure to assume personal responsibility is ascribed to the popularized Freudianism and behaviorism characterizing our age of the “buck-passer.” Moral failure is blamed on either the environment, irresistible impulses, or complex unconscious drives, while social adjustment and conformism are proclaimed as the new gospel of the American way of life. Consequently, for the company man ethics and morals are reduced to an uncritical acceptance of the social standards and mores of his firm, which soothes the conscience of its employees with the comforts and security of the corporation setup. In so doing the corporation cultivates a pseudo-scientific contempt for free will and moral obligations by a scrupulous avoidance of any form of suffering, sacrifice, or self-discipline. To compensate for this personal demoralization, corporations provide medical plans, model homes, and even neckties bearing the corporate insignia, to provide a pseudo self-respect for one’s identification and a feeling of social community.

The flight from personal responsibility is accelerated by the mechanization, rationalization, and ...

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