electronic version: 1573-0697 print version 0167-4544
Journal of Business Ethics. Volume 44, Number 1, 23-36
The contemporary confluence of globalization and ethical pluralism is at the origin of many ethical challenges that confront us nowadays, both in practice and in theory. One of the challenges arising from the development of globalization, has to do with respect for cultural diversity. It is often said that the success of economic globalization tends towards social and cultural homogeneity. To the extent that cultural diversity is usually seen as a valuable reality, that global trend seems to contradict our efforts to respect ethical pluralism, both personal and cultural, within society. In this paper I argue that a) ethical minimalism, despite its emphasis on tolerance and justice, does not take pluralism seriously into account in present-day society, and b) ethical minimalism is not suited to balance the homogenizing trend of globalization. Certainly ethical norms are necessary, but by no means are they sufficient in themselves to encourage either justice or tolerance; nor are they sufficient to inspire and encourage good practices and sound regulations. Instead, a virtue-based ethic has the capacity of inspiring and encouraging good practices. Particularly, a virtue-based ethic is able to inspire a serious dialogue about ethical and legal issues both in the public arena and within organizations.