Environmental and Business ethics

ethics a2

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  • Created by: Priya
  • Created on: 06-06-11 20:25

What is environmental ethics?

  • It considers the relationship between ethics and the natural world. 
  • The rapid growth in technology means that we can make choices which we didn't have to make before that affect the continuation of Human race and the world we live in. 
  • There is no international environmental code.
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The religious approach to environmental ethics

  • The Bible suggests that we have dominion over the rest of the world. This is shown in the quote "You shall have dominion over the birds of the air and the fish of the sea...". However this view has been considered very anthropocentric and does not focus on the rest of the world.
  • Peter Singer suggests that this view means we can only preserve nature for our own benefit and not because nature has intrinsic value in itself.


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Religious approach to environmental ethics

  • God values the natural world and states that "it is good" in Genesis 1 and that He continues to show His concern for it. 
  • "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father" If God does value creation and is committed to it, then it has intrinsic value. 
  • In genesis 2, Man is put in the Garden of Eden to protect and preserve creation. We are stewards of the world; we are to care for and conserve creation. 
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The secular approach to environmental ethics

  • Rachel Carsons argues that the fate of one species is linked with all others including Humans. 
  • Alan Marshall argues there have been three main ethical approaches to the environment in the last 20 years. 
  • These are the libertarian extension/deep ecology, the ecological extension and the conservation ethics/shallow ecology. 
  • The Libertarian extension/deep ecology. 
  • Aldo Leopold argued we needed to develop an ethic to deal with mans' relationship with the land and to extend our social conscience from people to the land. 
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  • Aarne Naess stated that there are two ecology movements. 
  • The first is concerned with pollution, the depletion of natural resources and the usefulness of the Earth for humans. 
  • The second is concerned with the richness, diversity and intrinsic value of the natural world, which is deep ecology. 
  • Every living thing has an equal right to live and blossom. 
  • Naess said that Humans were not more important than animals. 
  • Nature does not exist to serve Humans. 
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  • Naess opposes the Christian view of stewardship, and proposes 5 points for deep ecology. 
  • The first point is that all life has value in itself, it is independent of its usefulness for humans. 
  • The second point is that richness and diversity contribute to lifes' well being and have value in themselves. 
  • Thirdly, the impact of Humans on the world is excessive.
  • Fourth point is that the human lifestyle and population are key elements of this impact.
  • Lastly, the basic ideological, political, economic and technological structures must change. 
  • However. Many have argued that these points are not practical or realistic. 
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The ecologic extension/ecoholism

  • This approach emphasises the interdependence of all eco systems. 
  • This means that individually it can survive, but it depends on others. 
  • The environment is a whole entity and is valuable in itself. 
  • This is often known as eco holism, and its most popular form is James Love lock's Gaia Hypothesis. 
  • Gaia comes from the Greek goddess for the Earth. 
  • Humans are part of the living whole and are not the most important species. Regulation is conducted by the whole of Gaia, not just the living organisms. 
  • Gaia which is the Earth, is almost like a living being. 
  • Gaia has adapted conditions to preserve life, but God could have been involved in the creation of Gaia. 


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The ecologic extension/ecoholism

  • This opposes Darwin.
  • Life cannot be destroyed, even in Chernobyl and Bikini atoll, where nuclear bombs were tested, life has returned. 
  • The earth is a unified, holistic living entity. 
  • In his latest book, Love lock now argues that our ignorance and rejection of climate change means that as temperatures rise higher and higher, the Planet may not be able to recover than he had previously thought. Because of this, he advocates the use of nuclear power to cut fossil fuel emissions. 
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Conservation ethics/Shallow ecology

  • The only value of animals and plants is their extrinsic value for Humans, as they are a means to an end. 
  • The worth of the environment is in its utility to Humans. 
  • A person should choose to protect the environment in order to preserve and conserve the planet for Humans. 
  • Michael La Bossiere argues species should be allowed to die out because this is part of evolution. 
  • Species who die out because of Humans are allowed to because Humans are also a apart of the natural environment. 
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Humanist theories

  • Peter Singer used a set of criteria for moral status based on sentience. 
  • Sentience is the ability to feel pleasure and pain. 
  • This means that moral worth includes animals.
  • If not, we are guilty of "specieism". 
  • As Singer is a preference utilitarian, he argues our treatment of all humans and animals should be equal. 
  • Plants are not sentient, and therefore we can not determine their interests. 
  • So they do not have intrinsic value in themselves. 
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Utilitarianism - Applying ethical theories

  • Utilitarianism will weigh up the long term harm against the short term benefit. 
  • Quantitative Utilitarianism looks for maximisation of pleasure for present and future generations. 
  • For example, the proposal for a 10 mile per hour speed limit in Lake Windermere aimed at reducing pollution in the lake, but also would have affected tourism in the area, which relied on water skiers. 
  • Qualitative Utilitarianism argues that the enjoyment and study of nature is at the top of the list for highest pleasures. 
  • Therefore, environmental preservation is imperative. 
  • Preference Utilitarianism would look at the preference of people. 
  • For example, Cheaper and more sustainable energy would outweigh the outstanding natural beauty. For example, wind turbines. 
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Kantian ethics -Applying ethical theories

  •  Kant denies that domestic animals should be treated as tools and there are moral limits on how we should use them. 
  • Animals should not be worn out and overworked, they should not just be put aside when they are too old. 
  • It is right to kill animals for food, but not for sport. 
  • Treating animals or the natural world badly would make us cruel and callous beings that would treat other rational beings badly. 
  • A person can not have good will unless he or she shows concern for non rational beings. 
  • We can not universalise the exploiting planet. 
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Virtue ethics - Applying ethical theories

  • Virtue ethics asks what characterises an environmentally good person. 
  • A virtuous life in nature is a necessary condition of Human flourishing. 
  • Extremes of behaviour is unhelpful for the environment.
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Religious ethics - Applying ethical theories

  • Christians are taught that they are stewards of the world. 
  • In Genesis, God grants Humans dominion over the World. 
  • Many believe that means that they are in charge of the world. I.e. the most important. 
  • They also believe that they must protect the Earth and its resources. 
  • Christians are taught that the environment is part of God's creation and it "is good" which is in Genesis 1. 
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What is business ethics?

  • Business Ethics examines the ethical dilemmas between businesses and consumers
  • businesses and their employees
  • And the affect of globalisation on the environment. 
  • Ethics in the business and corporate social responsibility is becoming a key in the business world. 
  • For example, the co-operative and the body shop.
  • Multinationals in the world operate in different cultures with different rules and so have to regulate their own ethical practices. 
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Relationship between business and consumers

  • Consumers have been instrumental in bringing about change. 
  • Consumers expect businesses to demonstrate ethical responsibility.
  • Many companies have become the focus of consumer anger about ethics, including Nike, gap and primark over child labour. 
  • The body shop was founded by Anita Roddick. 
  • She changed the way that beauty products were tested and this became a great success. 
  • However. Interestingly, the body shop is now owned by loreal which has not abandoned testing on animals on completely. 
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Relationship between business and consumers

  • Good ethical practices can encourage shoppers and this may explain why body shop lost some popularity after the sale to loreal. 
  • It does not need to be a huge step and massive change.
  • Many businesses to charity work and this raises their profile 
  • For example, Tesco and race for life or sainsburys and comic relief. 
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Relationship between employers and employees

  • In 1978, A.C.A.S. was set up to create harmonious relationships between employers and employees.
  • To create good relationships, there has to be a balance between what the employer wants. 
  • This is good working conditions and pay and high living standards.
  • Whistle blowers are those that expose secrets that they think businesses should be held accountable for. 
  • For example, Doctor David Kelly who was a whistle blower in the Iraq war and later committed suicide. 
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Relationship between business and the environment

  • Environmental responsibility not only helps the environment, but gains the trust of the consumers.
  • All businesses impact the environment. For example through emitting pollution and producing waste.
  • The business commitment to the environment awards is a prestigious award given every year. The co-operative has been one of the winners.
  • Businesses are encouraged to have environmental codes.
  • Anglo american mining company is an example. 
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Globalisation

  • Globalisation means "the reduction of the difference between one economy and another, so trade all over the world, both within and between different countries, becomes increasingly similar"
  • Technological change, especially in communication technology.
  • Transport is both faster and cheaper.
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Globalisation

  • Free trade means that barriers to trade have been removed, for example by the E.U.
  • Consumers are now more willing to try foreign products. 
  • There are also Emerging markets in developing countries. 
  • This means that businesses are freer to move around the world and find cheaper labour. For example Indonesia and India.
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Globalisation

  • One of the main benefits of behaving ethically for businesses is the image that it gives of the business to the consumer. 
  • If the business behaves ethically, then it is more likely to recruit well qualified employees and this will help to improve motivation.
  • Being ethical can increase costs for the businesses by for example paying employees more and only choosing to do business with other ethical businesses. 
  • For example primark got into trouble when it outsourced the production of its clothing to companies that did not follow its rules with regards to child labour. 
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Religious ethics -Applying ethical theories

  • In the old testament the prophets, for example Amos spoke about the treatment of the poor by the rich suggesting that businesses should not abuse the poor.
  • Jesus taught, through the golden rule, that you should treat others as you wish to be treated. 
  • Protestants have focused on the individual and how they conduct businesses (and what is says about them. 
  • They have also looked at capitalism and the social inequalities that is has caused and have suggested solutions for this.
  • Catholics have focused a lot on the rights of the worker and this has meant that communism and free market capitalism have been criticised.
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Utilitarianism -Applying ethical theories

  • Utilitarianism argues that the general good of the organisation is more important than individuals in the company. 
  • For example a farmer may give up some of his land in order to build a dam to provide water irrigation for a lot of farmers. 
  • All options need to be considered when making a business decision in order to ensure the highest utility. 
  • However this approach is not simple.
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Kantian ethics - applying ethical theories

  • Kant argues that people should never be treated with respect. 
  • Not just because it saves the business from dealing with negative press. 
  • Tthe same applies to business transactions. 
  • One should not try and run an ethical business just because you are trying to make the business appeal to others. 
  • Business laws have to be universalised. 
  • For example, you cannot make bribery universal.
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Virtue Ethics - applying ethical theories

  • Virtue ethics argues that business can not be separated from society
  • An individual can not be in an ethical vacuum
  • Employees and employers should espouse virtues of goodness and honesty
  • These are the same virtues as those of a good person in society. 
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