ETHICS IN BUSINESS: Most Feasible Views and Perspectives Your Nam Due INTRODUCTION The word “ethics” can be defined in the simplest terms as, “universal standards of right and wrong prescribing the kind of behavior an ethical company or person should and should not engage in. ” (Josephson, 2013). However, ethics is anything but a simple concept. Primarily this is because the ideologies and beliefs systems, the moralities and ethical views, can vary among differing diverse groups, be it religious, cultural, professional, or ethnic in nature. The modern diverse world can make it very difficult to make the most ethical decisions at all times; and meeting ideal ethical decisions that will satisfy and best benefit everyone can be difficult to make.
However, someone has to tackle the ethical issues and do the work necessary to find the most ethical means that is best, while still having respect for the beliefs and ethical foundations of others at the same time. Whether it is your personal life or your business life, ethics plays a huge role. Without ethics societies would flounder, communities would be perpetual chaos, and inequality, immoral, and unethical interactions would be commonplace.
Your ethics are a reflection of your character, which has a relevant place and presence in someone’s life. HISTORY Ethical debates are not a new concept they extend back as far as the ancient world, questions of good and evil and right and wrong has always been a concern and consideration of people individually and as a society. There are a number of specific ethical principles that most people agree are necessary to live and conduct oneself ethically; the following are the most common perspectives.
Beneficence: Focus on the idea that an ethical person should aim to “do the most good. ” In other words, whatever decision will benefit the greatest number of people and create the greatest overall benefit is the right decision (Rainbow, 2002). The Least Harm: This perspective shares the opinion of beneficence in that it explains that people should not cause unjustifiable harm to others, however, it does not necessarily require anyone to go out of their way to do good. In other words it is an ethical act to walk past a person on the street and choosing not to punch them at random; however it would not necessarily encourage the same person to walk into a burning building to save others.
(Rainbow, 2002). Respect for Autonomy: Favors the individuals within an ethical society; it dictates that individual people should be allowed to rule over themselves and their actions because an individual knows himself best. However, it does share a perspective with beneficence, as well, and makes it clear that in achieving that autonomy there should still be consideration taken in doing the “least harm” as possible (Rainbow, 2012).
Justice: This ethical principle acknowledges that sometimes rules must be broken in order to do the right thing. For example, police officers can speed and defy the speed limit in order to arrive on the crimes scene sooner and no reprimand will be given for that slight. There are always extenuating circumstances (Rainbow, 2002). DISCUSSION All of these above viewpoints and been argued, debated, and agree upon for centuries. At the core, most people can agree on what should be ethical core principles, but just have a lot disagreement on exactly what theoretical approach will meet that ethical need best.
Utilitarian Ethical Theory, or Utilitarianism, takes the perspective of beneficence literally, because this theory supports “the good of the many outweigh the needs of the few. ” However, they are more likely to argue the necessity to follow the rules and laws. Utilitarian Ethical Theory embraces this idea of the “good of the many over the good of the one” mentality. However, it, also, generally requires a necessity to adhere to rules and laws that may relate to such decisions.
In the utilitarian viewpoint, ethics and following laws and rule are paramount (Sadler, 2011), Many modern business operate their companies under the umbrella of Utilitarianism. The Deontological point of view is much like saying that the most ethical thing to do is “do your duty. ” We all have social obligations that are expected of us by our society or families (Rainbow, 2002). That said our obligations has a “head of the house, ” parental responsibility, and to your job outlines what is ethical, by completing those obligations and tasks.
However, it is the philosophy behind Virtue Ethics and Justice Theories that seem to make the most sense in the long run and grander scheme of things, at least as far as in ones social life and personal dealings. Among taking individual needs into account, Virtue Ethics allows peoples ethical behaviors to be judged based on passed behavior or other patterns. Of course this perspective may vary. After all our friends and family may have more sensitivity and understanding than a stranger who witnesses the same ethically questionable behavior (Rainbow, 2011).
Granted, Virtue Ethics, like most things is imperfect, Judging people perpetually for their passed behavior does make it difficult to change present and future behavior. While I think the perspective of Virtue Ethics can be rather successful way to conduct a life, it can be a bit problematic within business settings. After all employees that are constantly being treated negatively for passed behaviors and poor performance are less likely to change it at all (Sadler, 2011).
At the same time, acknowledging someone’s passed positive performance as means of determining the quality and integrity of a single employee it can be incredibly beneficial. Sometimes business can be so utilitarian in the organizations that it lays down arbitrary consequences for issues with multiple sources and causes. Any modern company operation here in the United States and in many locations across the globe, has to take ethics into consideration when they speak and interact with their employees, establish rules that must be followed, and meet the needs of their workers as well as benefit the business.
Businesses have a responsibility to make decisions daily that are good for the business overall and not necessarily beneficial to every single employee that works for them (Thompson, 2014). However, in situations with individual employees it may be more gratifying and beneficial to adopt a more Virtue Ethics view; really look at your individual employees and consider the overall business at the same time. Employees are challenged with ethical conundrums on a regular basis. In the medical fields, a nurse’s compassion and concern is for a child in need of serious and invasive medical attention needs immediate attention, but the religious affiliations of his parents will not allow the very treatment that might save the child’s life.
Justice Ethics is present in those situations when the rules and judgment of Utilitarianism and Virtue Ethics is not appropriate. Justice Ethics allows us to acknowledge that sometimes rules are not conducive with doing the right thing and that needs to be rectified. Many say that you do not know what you really believe until you are faced with a challenge to them.
In diverse world we are exposed to situations of an ethical nature on a day-to-day basis (Thompson, 2014). As a worker people tend to respond better to being treated as valued individuals, as opposed to one of a herd, which sometimes can happen in structured and regulated utilitarian environment. It can be difficult as a leader to simply reflect to your workers, staff, and associates what ethical perspectives a person aspires to unless of course you post on a bulletin board and send it as a memo, “I prefer to run my business and life with a mixture of Utilitarianism, Virtue Ethics, and Justice Theory. ” However, when one makes the decision to behave in ethical ways, in their professional and personal life, there is a way that those traits can be conveyed.
Michael Josephson, in his article, “12 Ethical Principles for Business Executives, ” details the qualities of an ethical leader, not just in name, but in action. These qualities include honesty, loyalty, keeping of promises, fairness, respect for others, commitment to excellence, accountability, and integrity are means by which a leader can effectually, functionally, and successfully lead their business teams, as well as, within ones social circles (2012).
CONCLUSION Ethics is not a simple concept, hence why people have been arguing about and trying to understand them for generations. When it comes to business, establishing your ethical style is necessary. By incorporating ones own ethical principles, with business ethics, and the different valuable characteristics mentioned and detailed by Michael Josephson then you have a strong foundation for strong leadership in both in day-to-day life and in their professional ones, as well.
Additionally, by leading by example, living up to your own expectations, and treating people as you would wish to be treated, combined with the balanced approach involving Utilitarianism, Virtue Ethics, and Justice Theory, you have are well on your way to success. . REFERENCES Josephson, M. (2013, November 1). 12 Ethical Principles for Business Executives by Michael Josephson. Business Ethics & Leadership, 1-1. Retrieved from http: //josephsoninstitute. org/business/blog/2010/12/12-ethical-principles-for-business-executives/ Rainbow, C. (2002). Descriptions of Ethical Theories and Principles. Davidson College, 1-1. Retrieved from http: //www. bio. davidson. edu/people/kabernd/indep/carainbow/theories. htm Sadler, G. (2011).
Five ethical theories: Bare bones for business educators. Ethics in Business Education Project, 1-28. Retrieved from http: //missionparalegal. pbworks. com/f/Five+Ethical+Theories. pdf Thompson, S. (2014, January 1). Ethical Theories in Business. Chron Magazine, 1-1. Retrieved from http: //smallbusiness. chron. com/ethical-theories-business-74122.html