These approaches stem from assumptions about basic universal principles of right and wrong. However, while rights-based theories tend to start by assigning a right to one party and then advocating a corresponding duty on another party to protect that right, ethics of duties begin with assigning of the duty to act in a certain way.
Rights and duty have also been central to many religious perspectives on business ethics, and remain important influences on business decision-makers worldwide, especially in regions with high rates of religious adherence, such as Latin America, the US, the Middle East, and Africa. Such approaches start from the basis of divine revelation, as found, for instance, in the religious tracts of the three monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, which ascribe enduring duties of humans to God, or conversely, ‘God-given rights’. In such a revelation of what is right or wrong, human behaviour has its divine, eternal validity—regardless of whether the outcomes in a given situation are in anybody’s self-interest (egoism) or result in more pleasure or pain (utilitarianism), as consequentialist approaches would suggest. In secular societies, the ideas of rights and duties are equally strong and have been enshrined in various norms and laws, including everything from a doctor’s duty of care to a citizen’s right to privacy.