The scope


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 least harm
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

Questioning the ethical nature of an action

(Quoted in Parker et al, 1990)

Positive Negative
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

Deontological Ethics

Suppose someone read all your email, but took no action as a result. Does it matter?

Most people would be upset even if no palpable harm is done


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 (!)

UpOther topics Comments please to: dwfarthi@glam.ac.uk © 1999, 2001, University of Glamorgan