Business Ethics: Conceptualize Governing with the Ethic of Care and Justice

39 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2014 Last revised: 9 Feb 2016

Date Written: October 17, 2014


Throughout corporate America’s history, we experience periods of positive ethical behavior when negative activity momentarily may dissipate or be hidden. However, a positive ethical behavior flash in business often is brief. As seen in economic challenges from the Great Depression to the savings and loan crisis to the financial collapse of the 2000s to the more recent mortgage financial crisis, public and governmental respect of the business sector is decreasing. Individual actor behavior around ethical choices and its connection to organizational culture have much input into the crisis of the business community and its subsequent ramification. Despite much work around positive business ethics, consistent and sustained individual behavior and positive ethical choices are moving at snail-like speed. Thus, this article proposes a dual system for individual decision analysis for organizational responsibility. I label this dual system, “dual ethical analysis.” The dual ethical analysis, which is conceptual, posits using both the ethic of care and ethic of justice as the organizational model for individual decision analysis. Ethic of care would be the foundation for individual decision analysis, while the ethic of justice is for surface analysis.

The dual ethical analysis attempts to establish positive, consistent, and sustainable ethical behavior by decision makers. I further argue its importance for corporate governance in that it can support an officer or director decision maker in meeting her fiduciary duties, specifically the duty of care. By drawing upon business ethics literature and practical examples, I desire to initiate a conversation about using the ethic of care as a foundation for business decision making.

Keywords: business ethics, corporate governance, duty of care, ethic of care, ethic of justice, feminist ethics, gender ethics, stakeholder theory

JEL Classification: K22, L20, M14

Suggested Citation

Butler, Seletha R., Business Ethics: Conceptualize Governing with the Ethic of Care and Justice (October 17, 2014). Butler, S., "Business Ethics: Conceptualize Governing with the Ethic of Care and Justice," NYU Journal of Law & Business, 12(1), (Fall 2015), 99-137., Available at SSRN: or

Seletha R. Butler (Contact Author)

srButlerco, Inc. ( email )

Post Office Box 278
Fairburn, GA GA 30213
United States

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