Moral Issues in Business Chapter One The Nature of Morality Terminology • What is ethics? • The study of right and wrong • Distinguish between ethics and morality? • Some people distinguish between the two. We will use them interchangeably. • What is business ethics? • The study of what constitutes right and wrong, or good and bad, human conduct in a business context. Non-Moral Standards • Characteristics of moral standards • Concern behavior that is of serious consequence to human welfare • Take priority over other standards, including self-interest • Their soundness depends on the adequacy of the reasons that support or justify them.
• Moral Standards vs. Etiquette Rules for socially acceptable behavior are not moral standards Don’t eat with your mouth full. Say please and thank you. • Moral Standards vs. Law An action can be moral but not legal. An action can be legal but not moral. • Moral Standards vs. Professional Codes of Ethics Rules that govern the conduct of members of a given profession. Sources Of Moral Standards • Societal norms-Ethical Relativism The right thing to do is what one’s culture says is right.
This keeps culture stagnant – no moral growth It leaves no basis for one culture to pass judgment on another’s actions One’s culture is hard to identify in the modern world. • Role of religion—positive and negative Nearly every religion has a version of the “Golden Rule” Most theologians disagree with divine command theory. That theory says that something is right or wrong because God says so. Instead, God commands what is right and forbids what is wrong. Saying that something is right because God says so is not persuasive to the atheist.
There are differences of opinion about what God commands. The Context of Business Ethics • Business as a game Soccer and pizza party example • Business values in tension with personal values What is my responsibility as an employee? As a person? Social pressures can make it hard to stick with our moral rules. Corporations can bring pressure to bear against our personal values. • Organizational conformity—herd instinct—group norms Being a member of a team can require that people relinquish some of their personal freedom in order to further organization goals.
Psychological studies show that people will change their answers to questions to agree with the majority. Groupthink – group members may have the illusion that the group is invulnerable or that because the group is good or right, whatever it does is permissible. Diffusion of Responsibility “I’m just doing my job”. “If I don’t do it, someone else will. ” “It’s someone else’s responsibility. ” (The Kitty Genovese story) How do Moral Principles Help Us? • The Limits of Conscience Conscience often reflects principles that have not been critically examined.
Terrible crimes have occasionally been committed in the name of conscience. • Moral Principles and Self-interest Morality serves to restrain our purely self-interested desires so we can all live together in society Having a moral principle involves having a desire to follow the principle for its own sake Paradox of Selfishness – People who are exclusively concerned with their own interests tend to have less happy and less satisfying lives than those whose desires extend beyond themselves. •