Business and Ethics

High School ・Philosophy ・APA ・4 Sources

Philosophy means a study of the basic problems of life, principles, intelligence, reasoning, reason, ethics, beliefs and language. The questions of philosophy, which are critically discussed, contend rationally and systematically that they are discussing, as academic disciplines in particular, the basic characteristics of beliefs. The term philosophy comes from the word Greek "phylos" and "sophie" meaning "to love" and "wisdom." The Greek significance of the object of philosophy is to find wisdom and to test ideas concerning life. The focus of ethics in philosophy is moral systems which involve classification, defense, and recommendation of concepts concerning right and wrong behavior. In the field of philosophy, ethics also focuses on the search of moral knowledge influenced by the need for enlightenment of moral thought that shape ethics. (Chell et al, 2014).  The focus of ethics is important in philosophy because it attempts to answer question of how people should live socially.

The fundamental issues that form the basis of business ethics studies include the subject of examining the moral standards of business in the society. This involves investigating what these moral standards could be. The fundamental issues at the core of business ethics also has to do with the fact that business ethical standards relate to issues which have serious consequences in society. Duty ethics concern with the ethical actions and not the consequences of actions ensures that business decision makers will not justify any action by demonstrating that good consequences can come out of unethical conduct. Duty ethics helps in making  good ethical decisions  as it directs sensitivity to ethical conduct and practiced method for examining the ethical bearing of a decision based on whether it is right or wrong not on other considerations that which may impact the choice for a course of action. (Kolk, 2016). Having a duty ethics based method for ethical decision makes good ethical choice possible because of the universal basis duty ethics approach.

Utilitarianism as an ethical theory presents certain fundamental difficulties when used as a method for moral decision-making such as how to assign values to consequences that may result from our actions and to make the comparison with the consequences that might result from some other actions. It is this difficulty with utilitarianism that should inform ethical decision making processes in business. This means that the utilitarianism approach is not adequate for ethical decision making as it is extremely difficult if not impossible, to put value or compare certain benefits and costs. (Schwartz, 2017).

The minimum requirement for corporate social responsibility should be the compliance with the law which may be no more than the mandated minimum needed to allow the continued existence of the corporation. This Compliance with the requirements of the law represents the mandatory minimal standards of corporate conduct. The minimum requirement of social responsibility is represented by the corporation ensuring social good of the public. This is evaluated in terms of how the particular corporation relates to, and impact on the society’s goals and needs. Businesses should strive to reduce their green house gas emissions through the whole of their economic value chain all over the world because businesses are partly responsible for the climate change problem. These roles include measuring their green house gas emissions and carbon footprint taking into account also the activities of suppliers. Businesses should also incorporate climate risk in their strategic plans to ensure that their decisions and activities continue to have a positive impact on the climate.

Currently, the world has severe and an encompassing deterioration in ethical values with self interest and corruption having become major problems. These aspects pose serious ethical challenges in view of business globalization. (Kolk, 2016) Globalization also results in diversity of cultures, practices and expectations which further compounds business ethical conduct. Greater ethical concerns as a result of expansion in the knowledge and use of technology are becoming a serious issue for businesses because technology is difficult to govern.  The integration of technology into business is a complex process that may be unpredictable and open ended that may not be subject to prevailing ethical guidelines. furthermore the extent of ethical implications of knowledge and  can only be discovered through experience.

Considering that  it is not easy to interpret exactly what the term stakeholders includes, but a general agreement is that stakeholders are those whom and organization would not exist without. This would then mean stakeholders are shareholders, employees, distributors, suppliers, lenders, customers, as well as the members of the communities within which the business operates. Competitors do not generally make it to this list but I my view in light of the increasing importance of cooperative competition,  this distinction more blurred. Stakeholder theory therefore, may not be a morally superior method but it holds a lot of weight and credibility as a method of conducting business

Hobbes holds that People may for the moment institute a treaty within their community and agree to cooperate thus creating a form of social contract. however, in the absence of some power of enforcement for the social agreement no one side may ever be sure the agreement would be kept. If there would be any risk any party would renege on their agreement. therefore the rational option would be to gain advantage by being the first to break it. This is why both cooperation and enforcement are requisite elements of social contracts. Locke’s theory about the appropriate quantity of possessions can be taken to mean  CEO salaries should be commensurate to the amount of work and value the bring to the organizations they lead. Even though measuring this value may be difficult a system of evaluating CEO performance ought to be in place to determine how they are paid. In addition to this, CEO salaries should not be extremely high as to cause problems for the rest of the organization.

John Smith’s “invisible hand” represents the unintentional social benefits which arise from individual actions. The term has been used by Smith in relation to income distribution and production. Smith claims that individual effort in pursuing their own interest usually benefits society and domestic industry more than when they are directly working to benefit society. Karl Marx would indeed agree that alongside other measures, raising the minimum wage would increase the human dignity of worker. Marx believed that to restore human dignity, social structures that exploit people as if they were commodities should not exist.  In addition, abolition of an exploitative society would restore human dignity. (Chell et al., 2014).

The kind of moral obligations that employees have towards their employers relate to the fulfillment of the legal agreements they have with the employer. This includes carrying out their duties as required and following the laid down organization rules and regulations. In addition to this, employees also have an obligation to protect and defend the rights of their employers. Certain advertising techniques used on vulnerable populations are unethical in that they employ manipulation and deception. These are some of  the inappropriate ways that in many cases are illegal. An example would be unethical target marketing where business unethically targets vulnerable types of population such as those with psychological problems or children who lack intelligence and maturity.

When a company is under the leadership of unethical people, it may be hindered from complying with its own stated values. When theses stated values themselves are also unethical, the company may be hindered from complying with them. This may also happen in the case where the stated values are outright illegal. (Crane & Matten, 2017). According to Aristotle, good life does not result from random and isolated good conduct. Instead, he holds, good deeds are intentional.  Good leads into more good, reinforcing another and this forms patterns of good conduct which represents good character. This is the kind of character that is most suited for organizational leadership. A character that is aware of their good intentions and is always willingly conducting themselves ethically


Chell, E., Spence, L. J., Perrini, F., & Harris, J. D. (2014). Social Entrepreneurship and Business Ethics: Does Social Equal Ethical? Journal of Business Ethics,133(4), 619-625.

Crane, A., & Matten, D. (2017). Business ethics: managing corporate citizenship and sustainability in the age of globalization. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kolk, A. (2016). The social responsibility of international business: From ethics and the environment to CSR and sustainable development. Journal of World Business,51(1), 23- 34. 

Schwartz, M. S. (2017). Business ethics: an ethical decision-making approach. Malden, MA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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