Environmental Ethics for Business Sustainability

Laszlo Zsolnai ‘Environmental Ethics for Business Sustainability.’ International Journal of Social Economics, 2011, vol.38, no. 11, pp. 892-899

The purpose of this paper is to derive operational principles from environmental ethics for business organizations to achieve sustainability. The paper analyses different levels on which business affects the natural environment. It argues that business has a natural, non-reciprocal responsibility toward natural beings affected by its functioning. The paper uses principles of environmental ethics to redefine business sustainability in an ethically meaningful way.

At the level of individual biological creatures, awareness-based ethics is adequate for business. At the level of natural ecosystems, ecosystem ethics is relevant for business. At the level of the Earth as a whole, Gaian ethics applies to business. A business activity system can be considered acceptable if: its aggregate impact on animal welfare is non-negative;, its aggregate impact on ecosystem health is non-negative; and its aggregate impact on the living planet is non-negative. By satisfying the above criteria, business can performs its duty: not to harm nature or allow others to come to harm.

Environmental Ethics for Business Sustainability