Why bother with Ethics? Do you need a value system for your actions?
The answer is not obvious. Your ethical balance dictates your values, which, in turn, influence your actions. Today, business schools teach management, which is a special case of action, without directly addressing values or ethics. To some this might mean that management is about achieving goals and reaping (personal) rewards. So the answer might be that management is divorced from ethics and values.
Deeper thought into this question suggests the contrary. Values reflect ethical balance. With a foundation built on positive values, action will be purposeful and the result will be of service to others. If actions are driven by negative values, the result will be harmful to others and eventually will be disastrous to the individuals or organizations. Positive values begin with Truth.
Values drive behavior and actions by influencing the choices made. Therefore, to improve the quality of your actions (and your life – since life is the flow of actions), it is important to understand your ethical balance, and then to improve it. This can be done though a system of core values that govern your actions. The core values of individuals as well as organizations influence their actions.
So, in order to be ethical, actions cannot be divorced from values. Nothing worthwhile is achieved without purposeful effort and actions except by accident. Any individual or organization with an objective must understand the anatomy of right action to effectively navigate to success. Right actions begin with Truth.
Why is the Value System for Purposeful Action Based upon Giving and Taking?
Again, the answer is not simple.
Beliefs and values change over time, place and situations. Therefore, a value system that remains relatively consistent over time and place has great appeal. Values are derived from a variety of factors including cultural, social and religious practices, laws, regulations and norms that might serve as means of influence and control. Value systems based upon one or more of these factors tend to change with time, place and setting. As a result, values that lead to a right or good action at one time or place might be considered wrong or evil action at another.
For example, the kidnapping and enslavement of humans was legal, acceptable and even considered honorable by American slave-owners two centuries ago. Today, besides being illegal, slavery is unacceptable. Another example is the treatment of native Americans then and now.