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Ethics in the Workplace

Ethical philosophies served as guide for people in the workplace to make moral decisions in conducting business. There are classical normative ethical philosophies as well as contemporary ethical philosophies being used. They have been applied in the different levels or dimensions of the business organizations. People do know that there are business organizations that have disregarded ethical standards and encounters ethical issues inside their company. There are times that ethical standards or norms have to be set aside to achieve something worthwhile for the company.

Lately, businesses recognize the importance of ethics to help establish the integrity of the company. The ends justify the means is the common thinking in business but in terms of ethics what is considered morally right is the one that counts. Classical normative ethical philosophies include relativism, pragmatism, behaviorism and positivism. Relativism as a philosophical doctrine pertains to the denial of ethical absolutes. In business it asserts that all practices or beliefs can be equally valid and good or that moral values are relative to particular standpoint or culture.

Pragmatism as another philosophical doctrine stands on the ground that something is right if it works satisfactorily. Pragmatic people in business are guided by more practical reasoning and observation rather than theory. The most practical consequences are the criteria for what is considered as valuable. Behaviorism was related to a movement in psychology and philosophy that believes in the interpretation of human actions as totally determined and predictable. In business decisions it could explain why a certain behavior can be adapted in an organization.

Positivism as a conceptual theory is the process of equating knowledge with observable experience. Positivists are similar to rationalist. It could mean that ethics, laws or rules need not have to be always morally or ethically right for them to be accepted. Contemporary ethical philosophies include the approaches like the utilitarian, moral rights, Universalist and cost-benefit analysis. The utilitarian approach to ethical decision focused on taking the action that will result in the “greatest good” for the most number of people.

The moral rights on the other hand are the approach that concerns itself with moral principles, regardless of the consequences. Under this view, some actions are plainly considered to be right or wrong. The Universalist approach pertains to ethical decision making is similar to the “Golden Rule” that do not do unto others what you do not want them do unto you. And lastly under the cost-benefit approach you need to balance the costs and benefits of taking versus not taking a particular action.

The following ethical theories or philosophies were used to defend or based the ethical decisions in business. The following could justify why a certain practice or course of action can be considered morally right or reasonable. Most of them suggest practical and logical approach in decision making. Problems arise or difficulty in making decision happens because there are times that ethics or what is right is not applicable in doing business. There are many businesses that have bypass ethical standards because it is not practical, difficult to do or is not really advantageous or beneficial.

Many organizations have taken advantaged; sidestep laws of morality maybe because of selfishness, personal interests or self-centeredness or lack of genuine concern for the welfare of other people. There are ethical philosophies that can justify or gave legal right for some business activity. Business adapt ethical theories that can satisfy their needs or in the context of the situation. Some theories do strictly adhere to the laws of morality and that a business should stop their operations once they are found to violate rules of conduct.