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Beyond the Confines of Compliance and Virtue: Honing a Set of Global Ethics for South Africa and the United States of America

PAQ, Vol. 25 No. 4, (2002)

examines in terms of South Africa and the United States of America.
Both nations wish to entrench ethics and ethical behaviour in their
societies in general and their public sectors in particular. The author
devoted special attention to the notion of a global ethic as a possible
alternative approach to embedding ethical behaviour in the two countries.
Notwithstanding the glaring differences between the USA and
South Africa in terms of socioeconomic development, few can dispute
the need for an ethical society in both nations. He argues that the proper
yardstick to judge American and South Africa’s morality will be, or
should be, a global one, especially if South Africa, just as the USA,
hopes to compete on a global scale for trade, investment, and other
types of bilateral or multilateral agreements. There is a need for a transcultural
corporate ethic which is a business and governmental ethic that
is acceptable across the borders, traverses and transcends nations and
A huge development in post-apartheid South Africa is the focus on
th global ethics that is a honing and refining of a set of “universal”
ethics for the “new” South Africa (Hilliard and Kemp, 2000c). South
Africa is now functioning and doing business in a global environment;
since 1994 it has once more gained legitimacy in the international
arena. In the wake of large-scale globalisation of all facets of human
endeavour, speculating about the need for universal, global or cosmic
values and norms is appropriate. If judged by international development,
South Africa may, consequently, not want to be isolated from international developments again. Therefore, the possibility of introducing
new or adapted normative guidelines for South African public
servants and society at large is essential. Although conditions are quite
different, such a global ethic will also be a good fit in the USA where
the other approaches to ethical conduct have already been tried and
tested and, in some instances, found wanting.

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