From Bureau of Economic Geology, The University of Texas at Austin (
For more information, please contact the author.

AAPG Annual Convention, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, June 19–22, 2005
Division of Professional Affairs Luncheon, Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The "I" in BusIness EthIcs

Scott W. Tinker

Some ethical situations are straightforward and can be guided by rules, laws, and policies. However, many situations are "neither wholly right nor wholly wrong" and introduce difficult dilemmas having justifiable alternatives and significant consequences. Dr. Tinker will examine the business ethics gray zone, which is made more complicated by the complex global condition in which laws vary by country and ethics vary by culture.

Is it possible to frame an approach for ethical decision making in a world where no society, culture, or religion owns the ethical high ground? Dr. Tinker holds that laws and rules result from historical precedence and as such serve as well-founded guidelines for business decision making, but he also says laws and rules should not be used to provide protective legal cover for corporations to do the wrong thing.

"Corporations do not make ethical decisions; individuals do," says Tinker. Can an approach that targets the individual achieve results that exceed the ethical capacity of the organization? Tinker will present several case examples to provide a framework for exploring ethical decision making, with a focus on a few basic tenets of individual interaction -- honor your promises; consider the spirit of the law; recognize the situational context; reflect before deciding; compromise within personal limits; accept responsibility; and follow the Golden Rule.