- Ethical issues
- moral actions
- Webster’s: ethics n. 1. the area of philosophy concerned with
2. (as plural) moral principles or code
- Social issues
- the impact of what we do on the public
- Professional issues
- related to professional bodies and their codes
- Legal issues
Frameworks for ethical decisions
- The golden rule
- do unto others as you would have them do unto you
- The greatest good / least harm
- do what achieves the greatest good for the greatest number, and causes the
- Kant's categorical imperative
- if an action isn't right for everyone to take, it isn't right for anyone
to take. "What would happen if everyone did this?"
- The slippery slope rule
- first time acceptable, but unacceptable if done repeatedly
- No "free lunch"
- if something is useful to you, the owner deserve a reward
- A generic list devised by McLeod (in Parker et al, 1990)
Questioning the ethical nature of an action
(Quoted in Parker et al, 1990)
|Is it honourable?
||Do you want to hide the action?
|Is it honest?
||Does it violate any agreement?
|Does it avoid the possibility of conflict of interest?
||Are there other considerations that might bias your judgement?
|Is it within your area of confidence?
||Might your best effort not be adequate?
|Is it fair?
||Is it detrimental to the legitimate interests of others?
|Is it considerate?
||Will it violate confidentiality or privacy, or harm anyone or anything?
|Is it conservative?
||Does it squander time or other resources?
Two schools of thought
Consequential or Utilitarian Ethics
- Something is unethical if it results in more pain or reduces pleasure (it
has undesirable consequences)
- E.g. bullying is wrong because of the distress it causes
- Something may be intrinsically wrong (rights and duties are important)
- E.g. breaching privacy is wrong whether or not any harm is done
Suppose someone read all your email, but took no action as a result. Does it
Three theories of business ethics
- Stockholder theory:
- Managers are agents of the stockholders, and only responsibility is to increase
profits without violating law or engaging in fraud
- Social contract theory:
- Companies have ethical responsibilities to all members of society. 1. Contract
requires employees to enhance the economic satisfaction of consumers and employees.
2. Must avoid fraud, respect employees and society
- Stakeholder theory:
- Managers have ethical responsibility to benefit all stakeholders: stockholders,
employees, customers, suppliers, local community, possibly even competitors,
special interest groups and government (!)
- Summary from O’Brien (1998)