The paper "Ethical Theories and Concepts" is a great example of management coursework. In considering different issues in ethics, a distinction is often made between ethics and morals. It is practical to use the words interchangeably as moral theory refers to a set of moral principles that are abstract just like the term ethics. Ethical theories and concepts are the foundation in analyzing ethical issues and express different viewpoints that act as guidance to obtaining a decision. In this paper, I will discuss the different ethical theories and concepts and how they apply to the given case.
The theories I will discuss on are utilitarianism, Kant’ s deontology theory, justice theory, rights theory and ethical relativism theory. According to Stuart (1967), Utilitarianism is the ethical theory which explains that any moral decision taken is the one meant to produce much happiness for many people. It also means an action is taken that will cause the amount of happiness or pleasure. What counts when determining whether the action is right or wrong, is the value of the consequences due to that action.
The act is judged to be right or wrong once the consequences are experienced. Kant’ s deontology theory of morality states that one should act out of duty. The driving force or motivation behind a particular action determines its morality and not the like utilitarianism where the action determines the consequences. In Kant’ s deontology theory, one is able to judge if the act is morally right or wrong before it is committed because it is the thought that counts. According to Hugh (2002), the theory of Justice according to Rawls is the consideration of freedom and equality as important.
It offers an account of justice as fairness. This is through appealing to the social contract where principles of justice are determined that individuals will agree to in order to cooperate with others and would prefer to have more benefits than problems associated with the cooperation. Human beings are reasonable and rational and want to achieve something together with mutually acceptable and principles that are regulated. The two principles guiding the theory of justice are: ‘ each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive scheme of equal basic liberties compatible with a similar scheme of liberties for others’ and ‘ social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that (a) they are to be of the greatest benefit to the least-advantaged members of society (the difference principle) and b) offices and positions must be open to everyone under conditions of fair equality of opportunity’ . Ethical relativism explains that morality is relative to the customer of an individual’ s culture.
The act committed is right or wrong depending on the norms of the society in which it is committed or practised.
What is morally right in one society may be morally wrong in another society. This means there is a different code of ethics for a different culture for any given time. Universal standards are not valid to apply to the cultures at the same time. In examining Right Theory, a right is a justified claim that people or groups are entitled to have like rights to life, expression, liberty and protection. A right requires restraint or action from others. The right theory is understood widely and accepted all over as it is common and gives a basis of discussion in solving an ethical problem.
It explains that rights can be applied to all including dead people, animals, fetuses and embryos. A right provides causes with an obligation to be provided and it is from the theory of rights that moral law is provided.
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A Moral Challenge:
Business Ethics after Enron
by Lawrence M. Hinman
San Diego Union-Tribune, March 31, 2002