How much environment?

Most of us can agree that humans are dependent on the environment.  However, there is considerable disagreement on a business’ responsibility to the environment.  Acceptance of responsibility for environmental ethics is demonstrated through the development of a corporate environmental strategy. An example is the environmental strategy of Marriott International: “Both in our hotels and beyond, we seek to understand and act on the direct and indirect environmental impacts of our business operations.” Companies operating across the globe, regardless of size, must make such a strategy part of their business model in order to protect the natural resources they use to make a profit.

But the intersection of environment and business is all about human choices. What do you feel is the relationship between humans and Nature?   What responsibilities- if any- do managers have to secure that the environment is “present” in business decisions?

  • Is the economy vs. nature a false choice?
  • Is exploring the topic a privilege of “1st world” nations? And are other nations’ businesses and economies disadvantaged by 1st world concerns?
  • Managers are stewards of their organization.  If the company damages the environment, how much responsibility is born by the lower-level managers?  What responsibilities do managers have in securing that their company promote the environment? – if any-


What are Environmental Ethics and Our Moral Responsibilities (Links to an external site.)What are Environmental Ethics and Our Moral Responsibilities

And here is a slightly different and more comprehensive overview

Environmental Ethics (Links to an external site.)Environmental Ethics


Online Lecture – A Little of Both

Keep in mind we are covering two somewhat distinct topics:  Environmental ethics and business and then research ethics in business.   Though they are related, there are some important underlying differences.

The field of environmental ethics concerns human beings’ ethical relationship with the natural environment. While numerous philosophers have written on this topic throughout history, environmental ethics only developed into a specific philosophical discipline in the 1970s. This emergence was no doubt due to the increasing awareness in the 1960s of the effects that technology, industry, economic expansion, and population growth were having on the environment.

The field of research ethics emerges at roughly the same time and for abuses as well.   But the focus of research ethics is the protection of the human (or at times, the animal) subject.  This is a directed protocol-  humans automatically have certain privileges and protections in all kinds of research, principally, the notion of informed consent.  Unlike other branches of ethics, informed consent is the cornerstone of ethical research.

In this comparison, the environment cannot consent, so it has a different kind of privilege about our dependence on its collective support as the cornerstone for ethical protection.

A recent example of how business handles both environmental and research issue is brought tot he forefront ins the electric car development of the past two decades.  The electric car has a complicated – somewhat shady – history (Links to an external site.); with lots of odd versions and turns (Links to an external site.).

So let’s start here:

Click the video below to watch the online lecture.

Revenge of the Electric Car: Documentary Full 1080p HD (Links to an external site.)Revenge of the Electric Car: Documentary Full 1080p HD

Research history is not only less glamorous but much more notorious. However, the events described in the following documentary clinched the need for careful ethical controls and oversight of research.  Before viewing this documentary,  please be aware that- unlike previous ones- this one may not be suitable for your children.  It is a very disturbing story about how researchers exposed Black men to a curable disease against their knowledge to examine disease progression.  Not only was the research unnecessary (because a cure was available), it was done a vulnerable population.  The effects of the Tuskeegee continue to the presnt day.

The Deadly Deception:  Tuskeegee (Links to an external site.)


Grading Rubric

Your assignment will be graded according to the grading rubric.

Very Proficient:


  • Comments are made in a timely fashion, giving others an opportunity to respond.
  • Comments are thoughtful and analyze the content or question asked.
  • Comments make connections to the course content and/or other experiences.
  • Comments extend discussions already taking place or pose new possibilities or opinions not previously voiced.
  • Comments are from participants aware of the needs of the community, motivate group discussion, and present a creative approach to the topic.



  • Comments are made in a timely fashion, giving others an opportunity to respond.
  • Comments are thoughtful and analyze the content or question asked.
  • Comments make connections to the course content and/or other