What is business ethics?
Business ethics is a branch of applied ethics, which applies normative theories to specific problems. More specifically, it is the study of business situations, activities, and decisions where issues of right and wrong are addressed.
Why is it important?
It helps make ethically correct decisions in the business world for right and wrong scenarios.
What is meta-ethics?
Explores conceptual and foundational issues in morality.
What is normative ethics?
Is the study of which principles determine the moral permissibility of an action, or, more simply what constitutes right and wrong.
What is applied ethics?
Branch of ethics that considers the practical application of ethical principles to specific issues of social or personal concern
What is descriptive ethics?
The study of how ethical decisions are actually made, what influences the process and outcomes of those decisions, in other words, what we actually do.
Explain the difference between an explanation and a justification
A justification is what we should do, or in other words the study of what is right or wrong (normative ethics). An explanation is what we actually do, or in other words the ethical decisions that were actually made and what influenced that (descriptive ethics).
Explain the relationship between morale, ethics, and ethical theory.
Ethics rationalizes morality to produce ethical theories that can be applied to any situation.
Explain the difference between ethics and prudence. What is the common perception of the relation between ethics in prudence in business?
Ethics help determine what is right and wrong, this tends to be rational, impartial and universalizable. Prudence helps determine what is one’s self interests; the rules of prudence tend to be partial. A common perception is that ethics and prudence tend to coincide within a business, it usually in ones best interest to act morally.
What is legal positivism?
Legal positivism is the view that the scope of ethics and the law is co- extensive. What is legal is ethical and what is illegal is unethical.
What is the relationship between business ethics and the law?
Business ethics are found in the law but are in an analyzed form, they are not simply seen as laws pertaining to business ethics. ****
Critically evaluate the proposition that concerns about business ethics can be eliminated by reducing ethical problems to legal questions.
This cannot work due to the fact that legal positivism is false. If ethical problems were reduced to legal solutions, this would suggest that all legal solutions are true and ethical. This reduction is false because this suggestion is false, not all legal solutions are true or ethical.
Critically evaluate the claim that business ethics is an oxymoron
There are three main criticisms over the claim that business ethics is an oxymoron.
a) B.E. is useless – individuals are capable of changing moral beliefs there for it is useful.
b) B.E. is indeterminate – this claim does not hold because all fields disagree over their principles (economics, politics, science etc.)
c) B.E. is irrelevant – this claim does not hold because not everyone knows what the right thing to do is.
If business ethics is not an oxymoron, then is it necessarily true of any business regardless of the industry it is in? Is it possible to conceive of an ethical land mine manufacturer, an ethical manufacturer of illegal drugs, or an ethical animal testing laboratory?
The following examples are examples giving of unethical behaviors but not of business ethics. Business ethics is used to determine what is right or wrong in business so the concluding examples do not adequately follow the premise.
What is a normative factor?
What is virtue ethics?
Any theory that sees the primary focus of ethics to be the character of the person rather than that person’s actions or duties
Give an example of an ethical situation in business that might be favorably resolved by virtue ethics?
When assessing the role of human resources in a business, determining conflictions between people may be preferably resolved bye virtue ethics as it deals with character rather than actions.
What is consequentialism?
An action is morally right if the consequences of that action are more favorable than unfavorable.
What is deontology?
The ethical study of duties, obligations, and rights, with an approach focusing on the rightness or wrongness of actions themselves and not on the goodness or badness of the consequences of those actions.
Give an example of an ethical situation in business that might be favorably resolved by deontology?
Firing a highly skilled salesman because he violated a rule despite the potential success he may bring to the firm. His actions caused this decision and the future outcome of his skills was non-determinant in the decision-making.
What is act-utilitarianism? What is rule-utilitarianism
Act – Looks to single actions and bases the moral judgment on the amount of pleasure and the amount of pain this single action causes.
Rule – looks at classes of action and ask whether the underlying principles of an action produce more pleasure than pain for society in the long run.
22. Give an example of an ethical situation in business that might be favorably resolved by utilitarianism?
If there is a common flu going around your office and you decide to give everyone the day off to rest. This does more good for the most amounts of people.
23. Raise one objection to utilitarianism. How could a utilitarian respond to the objection?
Utilitarianism leads one to sometimes make a decision that is morally wrong with the justification that the outcome is less morally wrong. A utilitarian would respond bye saying that despite that morally wrong decision, when weighing out the outcomes, your decision did more good.
24. What is Kantian deontology? What are its key insights?
Kantian deontology is the notion that one should act from the good will. This means that one should do good things for the right reasons. He believes we should treat all agents with respect.
25. Why does Kant believe human beings are worthy of respect?
He believes that the goodwill is the only thing that is good in itself because it is the only thing truly in ones control and it is what enables us to do the right thing for the right reasons. Therefore he believes the goodwill deserves respect and we should therefore respect others.
26. What are the first and second categorical imperatives?
The categorical imperatives are a set of guidelines to help understand whether actions come from the goodwill or not.
a) Consistency – can this action become a universal law?
b) Human dignity – states you should act so you treat humanity, whether yourself or another always as an end and never as a means only.
27. What is a maxim?
A maxim is statement or sub point that helps organize the categorical imperative.
28. Describe the steps in the Kantian decision procedure?
Form a maxim, evaluate whether it comes from the goodwill or not (is it the right action? Is it done for the right reasons?). If it comes from the goodwill it is permissible and you are praiseworthy. If it does not come from the goodwill but is consistent with it, it is permissible but you are not praiseworthy.
29. What is the point of the shopkeeper example?
It shows that one action may have three different roots within it, only one being from the goodwill.
30. Raise an objection to Kantian deontology. How might Kant respond?
An objection to Kantian deontology is that it does not put enough emphasis on the results or the consequences of the actions. Kant would respond by saying that all actions are justified if they are made from the goodwill.
31. Would you pull the switch in the trolley case? Why or why not?
I would not pull the switch in the trolley case. I would not pull it because regardless of the utilitarian outcome of pulling the switch or the fact that it came from goodwill, it still holds me accountable for the death of one person. I would rather not be put in the equation.
32. Describe the pluralistic perspective in moral theory adopted in the course?
The pluralistic perspective explains that there are more than one normative consideration when trying to solve an ethical dilemma. This is the one of the root causes of ethical discussion.
33. How can we make progress in moral disagreements?
In order to progress in moral disagreements we must obtain objective information, strive for definitional clarity, study cases and analyze arguments and positions.
34. Would you push the man from the bridge in the trolley case? Why or why not?
I would not push the man from the bridge because I would not want to be help accountable for the death of human despite the results or the intentions of my actions.
35. What is the difference between permissibility and praiseworthiness?
Permissible means that an action is consistent with the goodwill while praiseworthy means the actions come from the goodwill.
36. What is moral absolutism?
There are eternal, universally applicable moral principles and right and wrong are objective and can be rationally determined.
37. What is moral relativism?
Morality is context- dependent and subjective and right and wrong are subjective and cannot be rationally determined.
38. Critically evaluate the proposition that answers to ethical questions are relative to culture or to an individual’s personal opinion.
Not all morality is found within cultural norms and prudence, morality can be found outside of these two things showing that not all answers to ethical questions are found this way.
39. What is the basic principle of the ethics of care?
The basic principles of ethics of care are: Care requires that one take concrete action to look after the needs of others and to foster good relationships. Care is a general disposition to behave in a particular way, a meta-virtue that organizes all the other virtues.
40. Briefly, what is the stockholder theory of the purpose of the corporation?
The stockholder theory explains that a corporation’s goal is to maximize the bottom line while operating within the rules of the game.
41. According to Freidman’s view of stockholder theory, what is the role of ethics in business?
As long as ethics does not interfere with the maximizing of the bottom line it is accepted, however, if a ethical arguments interfere with the bottom line or use the resources of the company for ethical advancements, it is disallowed.
42. Outline one of the arguments that Friedman gives in favor of the stockholder theory?
Friedman explains that managers have a fiduciary responsibility to act solely in the interest of the stockholders. If they begin acting from self-interests, it goes on to complicate operations and could affect the bottom line, which in turn will affect management.
43. What is externality?
Are outside contractual relationships.
44. What is a public good?
A commodity or service that is provided without profit to society usually bye an organization.
45. According to the narrow view of shareholder theory, who are the shareholders in a company?
Shareholders are those who have equity or some sort of finance in a firm.
46. What do the shareholder and stakeholder views have in common?
They both see the firm as central and that management has a fiduciary responsibility to the shareholders.
47. What is a deductive argument?
An argument that attempts to demonstrate with certainty that its conclusion is true
48. What is an inductive argument?
An argument that attempts to demonstrate with probability that its conclusion is true.
49. What is a valid argument?
A valid argument is one that it is impossible for its premises to be true and its conclusion to be false.
50. What is a sound argument?
A sound argument is a valid argument with true premises.
51. How are virtue ethics relevant to business?
They are relevant when assessing a business situation from a personal standpoint. It helps determine the characters of the individuals involved.
52. Describe the four requirements of the ethics of care.
Moral Attention, Sympathetic Understanding, Relationship Awareness, Accommodation and Harmony
53. What are the business implications of Buddhist ethics?
Buddhist ethics provides an alternative approach to ethical management. It provides insight on how to govern a firm while adapting Buddhist ethics. Taking on the four noble truths and the notion of not harming others.
54. What is an ethical decision? Describe at least three features that ethical decisions share?
An ethical decision is a decision that takes ethics into consideration. Recognizing a moral issue, making moral judgment, establishing a moral intent and engaging in moral behavior.
55. Distinguish between individual and situational factors that influence ethical decision-making.
Individual factors affect all of the steps when making an ethical decision while situational factors only affect the first three steps.
56. What is moral intensity and what factors influence its magnitude?
Moral intensity is how important you feel a more problem is. The consequences of an action will determine the magnitude of this intensity.
57. What is moral framing?
How people perceive a problem will change their feelings on the dilemma. Language is a big aspect of moral framing.
58. What is moral muteness?
When people don’t talk about problems because they don’t want to cause issues.
59. How does authority influence ethical decision-making?
People respond very highly to figures of authority and people will abide bye authority regardless of the moral level of the demand.
60. How do work roles and organizational cultures influence ethical decision-making?
Your role in work can go on to affect your judgment of what is ethical and what isn’t because you are focusing on your role versus the bigger picture. Organization culture has a similar affect and they as well influence how you respond to ethical situations.
61. Explain how criminologists approach the problem or moral motivation?
Criminologists see moral motivation as not something found in the actions of these people but rather why they are not motivated to abide by morally correct behavior.
62. According to Heath which three theories fail to explain moral motivation and why?
Three theories that criminologists have used to explain the lack of moral motivation are: character, greed and poor values. These failed to give answers because they overgeneralized, don’t explain corporate crime and does ignores criminals acceptance of other values.
63. Explain how neutralization techniques embedded in corporate cultures can influence ethical decision-making.
Neutralization techniques try and rationalize actions in a way that makes their actions seem harmful which then goes on to influence ethical decision-making bye making one believe that the actions committed could possibly be ethical.
64. Based on what we know concerning the individual and situational influences on ethical decision-making, case studies can sometimes identify points for managing and improving the ethical decision-making of a firm. In a given case, what policies and programs would you put in place? Why?
65. What is the difference between business reasons and moral reasons?
This question is being asked in regards to a bigger question of why should business care about ethics. From a business standpoint, a lot of the people associated with the business care about ethics, whether it is customers, employees or investors. In regards to morality, business have a moral obligation as their actions have either positive or negative moral consequences as a corporation as seen as its own entity.
66. What is enlightened self-interest?
Enlightened self-interest is more or less the same thing as the business approach to why business should care about ethics. Within them there are interests that make up the bigger scope of the business interests.
67. What is a fiduciary responsibility?
Is seen as a binding contract that states one group should act in the best interest and considerations of another.
68. In what sense are the definitions of corporate social responsibility examined “functionalist” definitions?
They are examined in order to understand if a firm defines its CSR closely to how a firm defines it. Is there continuity between the principles of the firm and its ethical part.
69. What is the stockholder view of CSR? Provide two arguments to support this view, one based on the right to property, the other on utilitarian considerations. What objections might we raise to this view?
He argues that since managers have a fiduciary responsibility to the shareholders, they are not aloud to use the shareholders resources for reasons outside of making profit. He also would argue that generating the greatest bottom line does the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people. We would object bye saying that doing something is ethical correct that may go outside of generating profits could provide more good for more people than just good profits.
70. What is the stakeholder view on CSR?
The stakeholder view sees that managers have a fiduciary responsibility to all stakeholders associated with the firm, that is all those that have a stake in the firm.
71. What is the principle of corporate rights? What is the principle of corporate effects?
The principle of corporate rights states that a corporation has the obligation not to violate the rights of others. The principle of corporate effect states that a corporation is responsible for the effect of their actions on others.
72. What is a stakeholder? On the limited view of CSR, who are the basic stakeholders?
A stakeholder is anyone who has a stake in the firm. The basic stakeholders are stockholders, employees, consumers, suppliers, local communities and managers.
73. What is the extended or network view of CSR? What moral intuition does it capture?
This view assumes that all stakeholder have stakeholders associated with themselves which creates a chain of responsibilities and he effects of a firm have a moral effect on a chain of people. ‘
74. Distinguish between normative and instrumental stakeholder theory
The normative stakeholder theory is the notion of taking into consideration the interests of all stakeholders while the instrumental stakeholder theory is the managerial aspect of going through with it.
75. Raise objections to the stakeholder view of CSR. How might stakeholder theorists respond?
The stakeholder theory, although provides the right moral outlook, does not take into consideration the difficulty and confusion of actually going through with it, form a managerial perspective. A stakeholder theorist would say that despite the confusion it may cause, it is necessary to achieve the right level of morality in regards to corporate governance.
76. What conclusion can we draw from the disagreement over CSR?
We can conclude that the discussion of corporate governance is heavily controversial with many forms of corporate governance available, an ethically achievable governance format will possibly be available in the near future.
77. Describe the four-part model of CSR deployed in practice.
Corporate social responsibility includes the economic, legal, ethical, and philanthropic expectations placed on organizations by society at a given point in time.
78. What are the four typical corporate CSR strategies to deal with ethical criticism?
The four strategies are reaction, defense, accommodation and pro-action.
79. Describe three concrete areas that we can examine to measure corporate social performance?
Three concrete ways to measure CSR are social policies, social programs and social impacts.
80. What is deterriorialization?
It is a word that used to describe the actions of globalization. It means process, which diminishes the necessity of a common and shared territorial basis for social, economic, and political activities, processes, and relations.
81. Why is globalization relevant to business ethics? What is the impact of globalization on different stakeholders?
Globalization is relevant to business ethics because it creates cultural conflicts, it affects legal jurisdiction and it creates confusion among accountability with issues. Stockholders have greater risk and rewards, employees lose jobs locally create new ones globally, consumers get products for cheaper, suppliers are global etc.
82. Describe Donaldson’s 3 principles of cross-cultural ethical management. How do we apply them in practice?
Donaldson’s 3 principles are:
a) Respecting core human values
b) Respecting local traditions
c) Context matters when deciding right or wrong
In practice, corporations must make these principles absolute, they must consult with host country and try and minimize pollution.
83. Why does Maitland describe discussion over international sweatshops as a “non-debate”? Why is it important to debate a seemingly accepted moral position?
He sees it, as a non-debate because he does not believe changing the current position of sweatshops will further anything as evidence show rising wages will result in consequences. It is important to further debate this for the sake of future breakthroughs and innovations.
84. Distinguish three host country wage standards: the living wage, the moral minimum, and the classic liberal standard.
The living wage allows one to live life with dignity, the moral minimum would be acceptable under development conditions and the classical liberal standard is freely chosen by informed workers.
85. Describe the case against sweatshops. How does Maitland respond to these objections? What does he conclude? How can we respond to his conclusions?
The case against sweatshops is that they offer poor wages, creates inequalities and political repression. Maitland would say that wages are just as good as local jobs; the long-term affect of inequality is non-existent and high unemployment rate is bad for government. He concludes that raising wages for these employees would result in tragic consequences and he suggests endorsing a free market approach to wages. Our response would suggest that a short term rising of wages would serve beneficial as a test and free market approach to wages would result in MNC taking advantage of such rules.
86. Define sustainability. What is the triple bottom line?
Sustainability refers to the long-term maintenance of systems according to environmental, economic and social considerations. The triple bottom line is comprised of economic, social and environmental aspects.
87. Describe the business case for the conclusion that sustainability can be profitable.
The CEO of a company decided to reduce its consumption and minimize its environmental footprint with the intentions of taking a moral stance but this ended up becoming profitable. As we can see that becoming sustainable nowadays can become a profitable venture.
88. What are some objections to the use of cost-benefit analysis in environmental ethics? How might a proponent of CBA respond?
Human decision-making involves more than just weighing costs and benefits, as well the notion of a cost and a benefit is subjective. They would respond bye saying there is not true alternative to this method. Need more****
89. Why might the term human resources be problematic?
This term may be problematic because it is viewing humans as a means to an end as Kant would put it rather than people.
90. Think about what it means to talk about employees in terms of human resources. Compare Kant’s theory with the feminist approach to business ethics in relation to human resource management. Do you think the term is adequately chosen? What are the implications of this terminology from both perspectives?
Kant would argue that the term human resources make people seem as a means to end rather than viewing them as people. The feminist approach would argue that we need to treat people with a matter of care, similar to the ethics of care approach. I do not think the term is adequately chosen but I do not believe it has a significant enough meaning that people outside the philosophical circle would address as an issue.
91. What is human right? Describe some rights and duties of employees as stakeholders.
A human right is something that is commonly understood as inalienable fundamental right to which a person is entitled too simply because he or she is a human being. Stakeholders are giving both rights and duties as employees:
Right – freedom from discrimination, privacy, healthy and safe working conditions, freedom of speech, fair wages and the right to work.
Duties – duty to comply with labor contract, duty to comply with the law and duty to respect employer’s property.
92. How might we justify the freedom of speech, conscience and action from a utilitarian perspective? How might we do so from a Kantian perspective?
Freedom of speech from a utilitarian perspective allows one to express possible adversity that will resolve issues for greater amounts of people; an example is martin Luther king Jr for the black community. This can also be seen similarly in the Kantian perspective as freedom of speech allows one to speak up against employers that use employees as means to and end.
93. What is whistleblowing and why is it normally considered an ethical issue?
Whistleblowing is the exposure of wrongdoing in an organization. It is considered an ethical issue because an employee has a duty as well a fiduciary responsibility to its employer and whistleblowing goes against that contract.
94. What common defense of whistleblowing does Davis describe and why does he believe that it fails? What alternative does he provide?
95. What reason do we have to believe that common approaches to whistleblowing are misguided?
We believe that whistleblowing is something wrong so we try and justify why we must do it but in reality it showed be the other way around. It is perceived this way because an employee has an obligation of loyalty to its employer. The reasons are:
a) Loyalty can be applied only in a stable relationship of trust and confidence, one that transcends self-interest
b) The relationship of an employee to the corporation is merely a relationship of mutual self-interest
c) The employee has no duty of loyalty to the employer
d) Whistle blowing needs no special defense beyond one that satisfies the minimal requirement of loyalty based in law.
96. Make three ethical arguments from different normative perspectives for the presumptive wrongness of lying?
Aristotle – Tell the truth so you can build a truthful character so when a situation of importance arises you are not tempted to lie
Kant – Never lie, it is always wrong and therefor it should never be done. Lying breaks down society.
Mill – Lying is determined consequently, the outcomes of lie determine whether it be right or wrong. If it creates the greatest outcome for the greatest among of people than lie, if not then don’t.
97. What analogy does Albert Carr draw? What is the point of his argument?
Albert Carr draws on the analogy that business bluffing is similar to poker. You are expecting that everyone is bluffing as a lot is at stake, if you do not bluff than you will lose. Because everyone is bluffing and it is expected for you to lie than it is permissible.
98. How does one test an argument by analogy?
In order to test an argument by analogy you must compare the principles shared by the analogy and the argument. This comparison must be reflective in the thesis and argument for it to be a valid analogy.
A has properties X, Y and Z. B has properties X and Y therefore it must also have Z.
99. Why is it problematic for businesses to argue that ethics should be reduced to the law (i.e. “all we have to do is follow the law” or “we don’t make the law, we just follow it?)?
This is problematic due to legal positivism. Not all that is legal is ethical and not all that is ethical is legal.
100. Describe and assess Carson’s case for bluffing. What is he trying to accomplish? Are you convinced? Why or why not?
Carson posses the question: is your false statement in a bargaining situation considered unethical?
Two statements help answer this question:
One – These sorts of statements are not considered lying in this society.
This creates a new definition of lying. A lies to B, only if A has made a false statement which he does not believe to be true warranting the truth of the statement for B.
Two – it can be deemed permissible because you are under the impression that your negotiation partner is doing the same. This is Prima Facie wrong.
Prima Facie – Based on the first impression; accepted as correct until proved otherwise
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