The Relevance of the German Enlightenment in the Teaching of Business Ethics in China
LA-Asia Pacific Research Exchange & Conference, Third Annual Meeting, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, March 2013
13 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2013 Last revised: 13 Jul 2013
Date Written: March 28, 2013
Although he died over two-hundred years ago, the Prussian philosopher Immanuel Kant is still pivotal in business ethics courses globally. His works on ethics - tracts which consider the moral imperative, universal laws, concepts of freedom, moral autonomy, and the use of reason - are indelibly a part of the foundations of modern Western ethics. Consequently, students grapple with Kantian ideas and apply them to business cases. This presentation brings forward the context in which Kant worked, compares it to present-day China, and relates some of his important works to moral discussions in China. Kant worked in a small provincial university where all the important decisions, such as those about appointments, were made in Berlin. He was born into the guild system (powerful structures of families which controlled occupations) and a society where the state and the Christian religion were significantly integrated. Kant was involved in the development of modern science and he was the first to seriously address the relationship between science and moral decision-making. The presentation argues there is congruence between the German Enlightenment and modern China which reflects in the ethical reasoning of Kant and the people of China.
Keywords: business ethics, Kant, enlightenment, autonomy, rationality, China, curriculum, Western ethics
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation