Beneficence Definition: What Is It, And Why Is It Important?
by Soumava Goswami Our Blogs 30 September 2023
Beneficence means that it is the moral duty of a businessperson to promote products and services that are in the best interest of customers. The beneficence definition changes with context. In healthcare, it is the moral duty of the healthcare practitioner to promote a course of action that is in the best interest of the patient. However, in all contexts, the idea is more or less the same.
In this article, you will learn about beneficence, where we will discuss its definition in the context of business. Furthermore, you will also learn about the importance of beneficence in today’s world. In addition to that, we will discuss the role of beneficence in business. Finally, we will share with you how beneficence is applied in corporate situations. Hence, to find out more about beneficence read on through to the end of the article.
Beneficence Definition – What Is Beneficence?
According to the National Library of Medicine, “Beneficence is defined as an act of charity, mercy, and kindness with a strong connotation of doing good to others including moral obligation. All professionals have the foundational moral imperative of doing right. In the context of the professional-client relationship, the professional is obligated to, always and without exception, favor the well-being and interest of the client.”
You will mostly find the term beneficence in healthcare ethics. If one wants to work as a professional in healthcare, beneficence is one of the most foundational ethics to learn. This is basically an ethic of care that compels health practitioners, professionals, or even the businessperson to practice high professionalism standards as a moral imperative. This ethical practice advocates for high standards and strives for the greater good in society.
Successful business professionals strive to make the most of the principles of professionalism and try to honor and uphold the interests and well-being of customers. The fiduciary relationship between the business professionals and customers is at play here. The business tries to perform and manage work in a way that everything favors the client and not the professional performing the work.
Since the business, in most cases, holds the position of high authority, trust, and power, it has the responsibility to maintain high professional standards that accompanies beneficence. On the other hand, since the clients have real needs and sometimes unmet needs, they are positioned in the weak and vulnerable category. The client cannot ameliorate his own needs and needs the help of the business that offers its services.
What Is The Importance Of Beneficence?
According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “The language of a principle or rule of beneficence refers to a normative statement of a moral obligation to act for the others’ benefit, helping them to further their important and legitimate interests, often by preventing or removing possible harms. Many dimensions of applied ethics appear to incorporate such appeals to obligatory beneficence, even if only implicitly.”
You might have heard of examples where people and the media criticize a particular manufacturer for not having good labor practices in the factory. Basically, the ultimate goal of such criticisms is, in most cases, to ensure better working conditions for the workers, as well as good wages and other benefits that are necessary.
The actions and rules businesses operate on that benefit others are called beneficence in the context of business. On the other hand, benevolence is the virtue or character trait of an individual or an organization where it is disposed to act for others’ benefit. As per the moral theory, to act in beneficence is obligatory for an individual or an organization.
However, you can also perform beneficent acts from non-obligatory and with optional moral ideals in place. Here, individuals and institutions adopt goals and practices that are not fully obligatory to them. They do it as a part of their “morality of meritorious aspiration.”
What Is The Role Of Beneficence In Business Ethics?
According to Adam Smith, an eighteenth-century political philosopher and economist, the wealth of nations and the well-being of the citizens in these nations depend on social cooperation. He emphasized political and economic cooperation. However, this aspect does not depend on the benevolence of moral relations.
Smith is of the opinion that one should not expect benevolence in market societies. The successful strategy for businesses in commercial transactions would be to appeal to the personal advantage. He says market societies operate not by benevolence and humanity but with the help of self-love, which is the major motivating factor.
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy also informs – “It is not disputed that the purpose of a for-profit corporation is to make a profit for stockholders, but there is an intense debate about whether maximizing stockholder profits is the sole legitimate purpose of corporations—as Milton Friedman and others have argued—and whether truly beneficent corporate conduct is justifiable.”
Application Of Beneficence In Corporate Structures
To ensure beneficence, businesses develop corporate social programs. These programs mostly consist of a mixture of self-interest goals of developing and sustaining relationships with customers and limited beneficence. Some of the best examples include public utilities programs that help customers pay for oil, gas, electricity, phone service, etc.
Rather than increasing the profits of the corporate structure, these programs sometimes decrease them. With these programs, businesses locate and remedy some of the root causes of nonpayment of bills due to financial distress. These programs also help people who are in unfortunate situations and circumstances.
Hope you have understood the beneficence definition, and the application of beneficence in business. Businesspersons and professionals have a strong duty which is to take care of customers, other professionals, businesses, and society as a whole. Beneficence makes doing good to customers a moral obligation to businesses.
If professionals do not understand or reject this duty, they are at risk of acting malevolently and violating the fundamental principles of honoring and protecting customers. Do you think beneficence is a good principle that can benefit businesses in the long run? Share your thoughts and opinions with us in the comments section below.