Applying Moral Philosophies to Business Ethics
Moral philosophies - present guidelines for determining how conflicts in human interests are to be settled and for optimizing mutual benefit of people living together in groups.
--There is no one correct way to resolve ethical issues in business.
-- Each type of philosophy has a distinct basis for deciding whether a particular action is right or wrong.
-- Ethics issues analyzed using different philosophical theories generally have the same appropriate outcome.
Role Morality — people have a moral responsibility to fulfill their role in the organization
Do employees have a moral responsibility to “do their jobs?” What are their ...view middle of the document...
Determine what alternative actions or policies are available regarding a specific situation.
2. Estimate the direct and indirect benefits and costs that the action would produce for each and every person affected by the action in the foreseeable future.
3. The alternative that produces the greatest sum total of utility must be chosen as ethically appropriate.
Criticisms of Utilitarian Theory
1. It is difficult to measure “utility.”
2. Some benefits and costs are impossible to measure.
3. Some benefits and costs cannot be reliably predicted.
4. It is often unclear what counts as a cost and what counts as a benefit.
5. The theory assumes that all goods can be traded for equivalents of other goods.
6. The issue of “rights” is not considered in the theory.
7. The issue of “justice” is not considered in the theory.
8. The theory looks at how much utility is produced in a society and fails to take into account how that utility is distributed among the members of society.
Rule-utilitarianism — This approach adds the issue of “correct moral rules” to utilitarian considerations in an attempt to deal with some criticisms of utilitarianism. The rule utilitarian would say:
1. An action is right from an ethical point of view if and only if the action would be required by those moral rules that are correct.
2. A moral rule is correct if and only if the sum total of utilities produced if everyone were to follow that rule is greater than the sum total utilities produced if everyone were to follow some alternative rule.
II. Deontology — rights of individuals (non-consequentialist theories)
• Equal respect must be given to all persons.
• There are some things that should not be done, even to maximize utility.
• Individuals have certain absolute rights: freedom of conscience, freedom of consent, freedom of speech, etc.
• Rights have corresponding “duties.”
• Teleological philosophies consider the ENDS associated with an action and deontological philosophies consider the MEANS associated with an action.
Deontology (Kant’s Categorical Imperative)--
Immanual Kant’s theory is based on the “reasonable man.” Kant assumes that reason is the same for every individual and this means that what is moral should be the same for each person. When people choose to act the way reason demands, they will act morally.
Right — absence of prohibitions; authorized or empowered; prohibitions or requirements on others that enable the individual to pursue certain interests for activities
- Negative rights —duties others have not to interfere in certain activities of the person who holds a given right
- Positive rights — some other agents have the positive duty of providing the holder of the right with whatever he or she needs to freely pursue his or her interests
Three principles of the categorical imperative include:
1. Principle of Consistency
2. Principle of Respect for Persons
3. Principle of Autonomy
PRINCIPLE OF CONSISTENCY