Deontological ethics are concerned with what people do and not with the consequences of their actions. It teaches some actions might be correct or wrong because of their nature, and it is the duty of the people to act accordingly, regardless of the consequences that might occur, for the good or bad. It basically means one has to adhere to the universal rules and guidelines irrespective of the consequences and act in accordance to them. Getting to the means is not important by the way or choice of getting to the mean is important.
Immanuel Kant, the man who formulated this theory had a method to practice this theory and this was known as the maxims. Before testing the decisions of the product manager with the three maxims, let’s look at the decision from a business and not an ethical point of view. The product manager has chosen the Thai company and it benefits his company financially as his costs go down by 1/3 rd the price, thus making sense from a business point of view. There is another way of looking at this situation, it could be said that this decision of the product manager is providing those families with work and giving them a chance to make some money and earn a livelihood and provide for themselves.
Also the decision makes sense on a personal level as he stands to earn a hefty bonus at the end of the year. In spite of the decision making financial and business sense, on his way back the product manager had an ethical dilemma as the decision questioned his morality as the situation involved inhumanity and child labour, leading him to think is this the right decision? Testing the decision against the three maxims, I will decide whether the decision taken by the product manager is ethical or not.
Considering the three maxims a lot of valid points can be argued for and against the decision of the product manager. Maxim 1: The first maxim states that “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law without contradiction”. The decision contradicts the universal law as the product manager does not want to see his nieces in the same situation as the kids making the toys. He wonders about his nieces and whether he would like to see them grow up as the kids making the toys.
He wants his nieces to have a good life with education, shelter and all basic necessities. According to maxim 1, even the children making the toys should have the same privileges. As a result this decision by the product manager fails maxim 1 and although it makes financial sense, ethically it will not be right and according to the universal law the decision does not support deontology theory as the product manager is not at ease with himself in the same situation. As a result according to maxim 1 it will be a non-ethical decision. BAFD2 1321A PAGE 2 Ethics in Business Studies Maxim 2:
The second maxim states that “Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end but always at the same time as an end”. This means one should treat another person as one would like to be in the treated himself. The product manager would definitely not want to be in the same situation as the family making the toys, where young children who are supposed to go to school and have a normal childhood sitting all day and making toys and an old lady preparing meals for everybody as the family lives in sub-standard conditions.
He would not want his nieces in that similar situation or his family living in similar circumstances. This cannot be considered humanitarian and as a result the decision of the product manager fails the second maxim of deontology and cannot be considered to be an ethical decision. Maxim 3: The third maxim states “Therefore, every rational being must so act as if he were through his maxim always a legislating member in the universal kingdom of ends. ” This maxim does rationalise the decision of the product manager. These families that make the toys depend on this for their livelihood and need it for their survival.
So if the product manager declines the offer some other company might take it up and the families will continue to work and live in the same situation. If the product manager declines the contract he may be depriving the families of their income. On the other hand by accepting the contract he is supporting child labour and inhuman working conditions. This makes him wonder and he would not want to see his family in a situation where he is sitting in a barn with his nieces working and his mother cooking a meal.
The children that should be at school are forced to work and elderly women are forced to work too. Seeing his family in a similar situation would want to make him decline the contract on ethical grounds. However with regards to the third maxim the decision to choose the Thai company does not pass the test but neither does it fail the maxim test. The decision to decline may not be warranted as some other company might take up the contract but on a rational and ethical ground declining the contract will be a correct decision on part of the product manager.
As we have seen in this essay the decision of the product manager to choose the Thai company does not pass all three maxims and as a result it should be considered as an unethical decision. BAFD2 1321A PAGE 3 Ethics in Business Studies References: •Bbc. co. uk, (2014). BBC – Ethics – Introduction to ethics: Duty-based ethics. [online] Available at: http://www. bbc. co. uk/ethics/introduction/duty_1. shtml [Accessed 15 Jul. 2014]. •Crane, A. and Matten, D. (2010). Business ethics. 1st ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. •Ethics. iit. edu, (2014). Deontological | ethics. iit. edu. [online] Available at: http://ethics. iit. edu/teaching/deontological [Accessed 15 Jul. 2014]. BAFD2 1321A.
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Topic: Immanuel Kant
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