‘Kantian ethics provides the best approach to business ethics.’ Discuss

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  • Created on: 22-07-19 11:03
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  • Kantian ethics provides the best approach to bussiness ethics. Discuss
    • Kantian Ethics
      • Summary AO1
        • Provides a deontological  and absolutist approach to moral decision-making
        • Kant’s hypothetical imperative (a command to act to achieve a desired result) and why it is not the imperative of morality.
        • Kant’s categorical imperative (a command to act that is good in itself regardless of consequences) and why it is the imperative of morality.
        • Kant’s three formulations of the categorical imperativ
          • 1. Formula of the law of nature (whereby a maxim can be established as a universal law)
          • 2. Formula of the end in itself (whereby people are treated as ends in themselves and not a means to an end)
          • 3. Formula of the kingdom of ends (whereby a society of rationality is established in which people treat each other as ends and not means)
      • Advantages AO2
        • the concept of duty (acting morally according to the good regardless of consequences) is the best approach to relationships between the employer and employee, the business and its stakeholders, other businesses, world economies, industries, markets and cultures
        • the formula of the law of nature supports the maxim of truth-telling which is the best approach to whistle-blowing (whereby an employee discloses wrongdoing to the employer or the public)
        • the formula of the kingdom of ends is the best approach in avoiding the ‘hypocritical window-dressing’ which might otherwise cover the greed of a business intent on making profits
        • the formula of the end in itself is the best approach to relationships between the employer and employee, the business and its stakeholders, other businesses, world economies, industries, markets and cultures, because it upholds the importance of corporate social responsibility
        • since Kantian ethics is entirely reliant on reason it is the best approach for shareholders and stakeholders to follow in profit-making
      • Disadvantages AO2
        • a business cannot be successful if it follows the concept of duty (acting morally according to the good regardless of consequences) since within capitalism, profit-making requires continual focus on consequences
        • Kantian ethics is so reliant on reason that it unduly rejects the importance of other factors in decision-making which might be to the benefit of employees and stakeholders
        • its deontological and absolutist approach does not provide the flexibility required for a business to carry out its responsibility towards its shareholders, stakeholders, other businesses, world economies, industries, markets and cultures
        • from the perspective of capitalism, the formula of the end in itself is contrary to the reality that a business in some ways has to use its employees and customers in pursuit of profit-making
        • Kantian ethics is too abstract to be applicable to the practical moral decision-making required of businesses in making profits
        • utilitarianism – not Kantian ethics - provides the best approach as through the hedonic calculus the benefit or harm of the decisions a business takes can be calculated through examining the likely consequences of the decision
      • Conclusion
        • the categorical imperative and its three formulations are useful aspirations for a business but may need to be ignored since a business has to focus on profit-making for its survival and for the benefit of its shareholders and stakeholders
        • whilst for the good of its stakeholders, a business might follow aspects of Kantian ethics (such as the formula of nature in supporting the maxim of truth-telling which leads to whistle-blowing) ultimately this is nothing more than hypocritical window-dressing covering the fact that a business is essentially intent on making profits
        • whilst the broad principles of Kantian ethics in terms of duty provide a useful framework, businesses have to operate in too complex an arena (involving shareholders, stakeholders, other businesses, world economies, industries, markets and cultures) and require great flexibility in making good business decisions.
    • AO1 : 14-16 marks
      • accurate and highly detailed knowledge which demonstrates deep understanding through a complex and nuanced approach to the material used
      • thorough, accurate and precise use of technical terms and vocabulary in context
      • excellent selection of relevant material which is skilfully used
      • extensive range of scholarly views, academic approaches, and/or sources of wisdom and authority are used to demonstrate knowledge and understanding
      • fully comprehends the demands of, and focusses on, the question throughout
    • AO2: (21–24) marks
      • answers the question set precisely
      • views skilfully and clearly stated, coherently developed and justified
      • Thorough, accurate and precise use of technical terms and vocabulary in context
      • confident and insightful critical analysis and detailed evaluation of the issue
      • extensive range of scholarly views, academic approaches and sources of wisdom and authority used to support analysis and evaluation
      • excellent, clear and successful argument

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