EVALUATING BUSINESS ETHICS

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  • EVALUATING BUSINESS ETHICS
    • ROLE OF ETHICAL THEORY
      • Ethical absolutism ; claims there are eternal, universally applicable moral principles.
        • Irrespective of the context decision will always be the same
        • States that right and wrong are objective
        • Traditional
      • Ethical relativism ; claims morality is context dependent and subjective
        • There is no universal right and wrongs ; depends on person making the decision / culture
        • Contemporary
    • TRADITIONAL ETHICAL THEORIES
      • Tools that prescribe what decision you should make as a conscientious moral agent
      • Designed to help you make the best possible ethical decision
      • Absolutist in nature
      • CONSEQUENTIALIST THEORIES
        • Look at the outcomes of various forms of actions that could occur as a result of a decision
        • EGOISM
          • "following the theory of egoism, an action is morally right if the decision maker freely decides in order to pursue either their short term desires or long term interests
            • you cannot know with any certainty what the consequences or outcomes of your decision will be
          • In following what you believe will generate the best result for you as an individual you are choosing the best option for yourself
        • Utilatarianism
          • According to this principle, ethical decision should maximise benefits to society and minimise harms
          • NET balance of GOOD over BAD
          • An action is morally right if it results in the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people affected
          • Difficult to obtain info required to evaluate all of the consequences for all individuals who may be affected
          • Rights of minority can be sacrificed for benefit of majority
          • Subjectivity - can you really know what m makes people happy?
          • Distribution of utility - economic term that means satisfaction is that when you decide upon happiness for the greatest number, what about those who are not happy?
          • Business managers generally rely on this approach
      • NON CONSEQUENTIALIST THEORIES
        • DEONTOLOGICAL THEORIES
          • Base their decisions about what is right based on broad, abstract, universal principals
            • honesty, promise keeping, fairness, justice.
          • "golden rule" - do unto others as you would have them do unto you" KANT
    • CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE
      • Ethics of duties ; the main point of non consequentialist theories is that the decision that is made does not depend on the situation or context
        • A rule is a rule
      • 3 parts - "maxims"
        • 1 - action should confirm to the notion of consistency of actions/behaviours that all individuals would agree is wrong
        • 2 - identifies that people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity
        • 3 - "the front of the paper test" decision makers know the potential ramifications but choose the unethical route
    • PROBLEMS WITH ETHICS OF DUTY
      • UNDERVALUING OUTCOMES
        • no considerationof impact or consequenceon individuals or other stakeholders
      • COMPLEXITY
        • business world is too complex for such simplistic approach
      • OPTIMISM
        • are human beings as optimistic as Kant would lead us to believe
    • LIMITS OF TRADITIONALTHEORIES
      • TOO ABSTRACT
        • not practical enough to employ for intricacies / complexities of modern world
          • business/social problems complex
      • TOO REDUCTIONIST
        • everything may be important when trying to solve a problem so why force someone to choose between consequences and rights
      • TOO OBJECTIVE AND ELITIST
        • knowing about theoretical stuff does not necessarily help you make better decisions
      • TOO IMPERSONAL
        • critisism indicated theories are too black and white
      • TOO RATIONAL AND CODIFIED
        • traditional theories do not include any emotion or personal feelings
    • ETHICAL THEORIES
      • VIRTUE ETHICS
        • morally correct actions are those undertaken by actors with virtuous characters
          • "good people make good decisions"
        • looks at the type of person and characteristics/traits they possess
      • FEMINIST ETHICS
        • priorities empathy, harmonious and healthy social relationships
          • care for one another and avoidance of harm above abstract principals
        • based on perspective that all issues are embedded within relationships between people
      • DISCOURSE ETHICS
        • encourage the peaceful settlement of conflicts
      • POSTMODERN ETHICS
        • Do not propose one theory
        • suggests encapsulatesa range of different methods by looking at issues from a number of different perspectives
        • "encourages individuals to question everyday practices and rules and listen to and follow their emotions about what they think is right and wrong
    • TOWARDS A PRAGMATIC USE OF ETHICAL THEORY?
      • CRANE AND MATTEN suggest there is not one theory better than all the rest
      • Suggest a plurastic approach
      • Non dogmatic way confront the issue that real business decisions involve multiple actors with variety of ethical issues and convictions
      • Ethical theories help to articulate these views and pave the way to an intelligent and considered response to the problem
      • pluralism is the middle ground between absolutism and relativism

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