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The Kant Theory of Moral and Ethics Essay

I. Introduction. Philosophy plays an important role not only in modern society, but also in society as a whole. As we know philosophy can be represented as the science of contrast of different views and thoughts. Philosophers present their point of view, concerning for example, ethics, life, world outlook, and the rest of society and must choose the most suitable idea. As proven, without dispute and disagreements the philosophy couldn’t rise to such a high level at where it is today. Hence, the philosophy and ethics are interrelated whereas ethics is one of the oldest philosophical disciplines which are the object of morality.

Every philosophy has been asking the issue about the class structure of society, the principles of morality, justice, right moral and upbringing ethical knowledge and among them were such celebrities as Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau, Voltaire, Kant, Marx and Hegel etc. However, Kantian theory left meaningful arguments regarding to organization that is still acceptable and useful in managing business ethics. He developed the concept of moral philosophy as universal law, the level of relations of society in organization, the importance of duty and obligation by freedom and so on.

So this paper will provide 1) the non-consequentialist approach to ethics regarding to Emmanuelle Kant’s theory for organization; 2) critical evaluation of his theory providing with examples and 3) some limitations of his theory. II. Kant’s Moral Theory Emmanuelle Kant more focused on concept of moral duty and responsibility as main key characteristics of moral conscious that served as the foundation for deontological approach. He emphasized that there not separation between duty and consequences, but nevertheless there exist gap between duty and “purely” deontological theory.

Kant considered the freedom as practical reason and shared the moral law of liberty and natural law of necessity. From the perspective of deontological approach the usurious activities are considered as violation of the rules to believe another human being as a supreme value. Deontological approach is more focused on avoiding negative morally unacceptable or restrictions on the action. Man must obey the law as a moral action and be responsibility for their guilt in committing the act.

(LaFave 2006) Thus, regardless of whether they want it or not the managers of organizations have a moral responsibility not only from the position of ‘debt’ i. e. from the standpoint of deontological ethics, but also from the position of ‘law’ that has unique potential for rationality. At present, managers have a moral duty of keeping informed thought and action that prompts them to manage on the principles of moral rights and duties. Hence the driving motivation for the employees is their moral duty rather than personal feelings or emotions; happiness or pleasure. (Bowie n.d. )

Next important statement of Kant is the responsibility of management in front of stakeholders in terms of human respect. It means each person have right for treatment from other person not only on the basis of means to achieve result, but also being as worthy in their rights and being respected. (Hasnas 1998) In business world the relationship between managers and employees is fundamental appearance whereas exist some tension or satisfaction. Sometimes employers accept employees with absence of trust while employees looking to their boss as ‘less than efficient’.

(Borowski 1998) Therefore it is possible to mark the Kant’s formulation of the categorical imperative which is requiring that all people should be treated as free and equal to each other. This principle contains two criteria for determining the morally correct and morally false; the creation of universality- ‘all must do like that’ and the criterion of reversibility- ‘you are the subject of the action of other people’. Some owners or managers maintain the Kantian theory in regard that by using people to achieve desired goals, they are obliged to respect and promote their ability to achieve their desired goals.

Kant believed that categorical imperative is absolute command and moral law. (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 2004) III. Evaluation of Kant’s theory. Many specialists of business ethics apply Kantian categorical imperative as moral right for different approach to problem of business life. Comparing with utilitarianism the Kantian approach focused on internal motives of action, for example the loss of confidence in each other, the social disintegration and distortion of communication between people can happen because of lie that became general activity.

But it is able to challenge the conclusions of Kant on the grounds that a lie is very common, and societies nevertheless do not fall. But it should take into account about development perspective of such relations. Indeed, one of the main problems in business ethics is that people are too easy to invent the most incredible permissible justification for them something that is not permitted to others. (Bowie n. d. ) There have some example where company M in 1992 sent set of fertilizer to Bangladesh and worker who wanted to increase the yield contributed the fertilizer to their fields.

Unfortunately, the bags labeled ‘fertilizer’ which containing the lead and cadmium dust was danger to health. In all probability the company M violated the several human rights. The company knew that delivered in Bangladesh goods would endanger the lives of people and animals. The company not only marked the goods as fertilizers, but also additionally violated the right on reliability of information. (Ermolaeva 2008) So this prove that universal law should hold by everyone as since all human beings are rational identifying whether the maxim was categorical or not.

Kantian affirmation about humanity by his formulation such as: ‘Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of another, always at the same time as an end and never simply as a means’. (Hoffman n. d. ) It demonstrated in example with company M that treated people as a means only for own achievements. In the following one of his main emphasizes was the fact that person without respect can not do great favor to somebody. By blessing can oblige another, to impose a duty.

Someone who has a good deed, should be better to pretend that he is obliged, or is honored for themselves that needs had take addressed to him, and thus to portray the act only of their duty or commit it in secret. The entire employer hiring employee appears as some act of charity. Provision of an unemployed job or refused a job, setting a higher wage to hired employee, the provision of certain benefits of the material or moral character, of course, can also be seen in the aspect of charity. So this proves that behavior according to maxim could become universal law. (Lebedev 2000) IV.

Limitation of Kant’s Theory. People always have a strong temptation for the achievement of any plans and achieve personal goals using other people as means. Unfortunately in business it is especially common. Kant went ahead with his theory about morality, connecting ethics with the universal law that makes the ethics as overall rationality. However it is impossible to ignore that fact of weaknesses of his theory in adaption in business practice because of little use in situations of imposing various moral claims involving conflict, for example, problem of social responsibility towards society.

Bouwie argued that Kant’s argument about maxim of universal law is fails. He provides examples that the maxims of categorical imperative should not be acceptable morally and universally contradictable. For example the worker who decided to steal the property for evil of his/her boss that couldn’t be morally permitted and maxim of stealing couldn’t be universal. As since if principle of stealing would be justified universally there could be no private property. It means stealing people or company will be stealing of private property that would be self-defeating and amoral.

(Bowie n. d. ) The Kantian formulation as “Always treat the humanity in a person as and end and never as a merely’ destroying when it comes in business. For example Disney’s management ignored about their duty focusing on own profit and inclination, because they provide employee with minimum wage and unsafe work condition without any benefits and respect. Kantian share that company is moral community but in Disney it is absent, they considering that employees receive wages they deserve and as lower the status as lower the treat. (Oppapers. com n. d.)

The employer which deciding to downsize or decrease the position of employees not always treat about financial situation or marital status of employees and sometimes they consider that it isn’t their duty. So it proves that nowadays business ethic based on self- interest and only in that case business can be successful that is denying Kantian categorical imperatives. The current situation is radically different from those governed by the old rules of Kantian ethics. None of the manager will act for the benefits of employees without taking account the prospect of the distant future or the problem of survival of the organizational life.

Unfortunately, in business world people began to respect each other only in case of mutual benefits. V. Conclusion. Overall, Kant has sufficient philosophical bases for the imposition of moral and ethical responsibility of subjects of management. He drew the society in which every individual adopt own behavior with categorical imperatives as well as in organization. Managers applying Kantian approach in their activities would have to provide consequential work as moral obligation. By conducting his approach in organization the managers leads directly to categorical imperatives.

His theory gives opportunity to treat about interest of stakeholder as ends and none of them will have priority interest at expense of others. The relationship between employers and employees or customers by Kantian approach has to be respectful and encourage each other by honor of debt. Moral obligation is the main point of his theory that sometimes not follow by stakeholders because modern situation has changed the nature of human action, changed their scope, objectives and results. His categorical imperative ignored such situation as lying, stealing or bribery in company and impossibility of treat people with equal respect.

However his approach exceed the negative side of business, that why company should follow his formulation by providing meaningful work and manage democratically. Involvement of Kantian moral philosophy in organization is successful impact on business ethics. Reference. 1. LaFave, S. (16th August 2006), Kant’s Ethics, viewed on 8th March 2010, <http://instruct. westvalley. edu/lafave/Kant_eth. htm 2. Bowie, E. ,N (n. d. ), A Kantian Approach to Business Ethics, viewed on 8th March 2010, <http://www. blackwellreference. com/public/tocnode? id=g9780631201304_chunk_g97806312013043 3. Hasnas, J.

(January 1998), The Normative Theories of Business Ethics: A guide for the Perplexed, viewed on 9th March 2010, <http://web. sau. edu/RichardsRandyL/business_ethics_filing_cabinet_normative_theories_of_busines s_e. htm 4. Borowski, P. , J. (1998), Manager-Employee Relationship: Guided by Kant’s Categorical Imperative or by Dilbert’s Business Principle, viewed on 9th March 2010, <http://www. springerlink. com/content/h11420275lvt147l/fulltext. pdf? page=1 5. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (23d February 2004), Kant’s Moral Philosophy, viewed on 9th March 2010, <http://plato. stanford. edu/entries/kant-moral/ 6.

Ermolaeva, S., G. (2008), Ethics of Business Relations, viewed on 10th March 2010, <http://window. edu. ru/window_catalog/pdf2txt? p_id=11897&p_page=3 (translated from Russian) 7. Hoffman, T. (n. d. ), Immanuel Kant: The Categorical Imperative, viewed on 10th March 2010, <http://faculty. cua. edu/hoffmann/courses/311_1081/311_Kant. pdf 8. Lebedev, B. , M. (2000), Employer, viewed on 11th March 2010, <http://www. law. edu. ru/doc/document. asp? docID=1142091&subID=100021227,100076349 (translated from Russian) 9. Oppaers. com (n. d. ), Kantian Approach, viewed on 11th March 2010, <http://www. oppapers. com/essays/Kantian-Approach/69771.


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