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Lecture 4 - Chapter 4

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University of Guelph
PHIL 2600
Aaron Massecar

October 1, 2013 Philosophy - Lecture 4: Chapter 4 Descriptive Ethical Theories: Seek to describe how ethics decisions are actually made in business, and what influences the process and outcomes of those decisions Main Factors in Deciding the Moral Status of a Situation  Decisions likely to have significant effects on others  Decision likely to be characterized by choice, in that alternative courses of action are open  Decision is perceived as ethically relevant by one or more parties Ethical Decision Making Process  Recognize more issue → Make moral judgement → Establish moral intent → Engage in moral behavior Relationship with Normative Theory  The role of normative theory in the stages of ethical decision-making is primarily in relation to moral judgment ◦ Moral judgments can be made according to considerations of rights, duty, consequence, etc ◦ Commercial managers tend to rely on consequentialist thinking ◦ The issue of whether and how normative theory is used by an individual decision-maker depends on a range of different factors that influence the decision-making process Influences on Ethical Decision-Making  Two broad categories: ◦ Individual Factors: Unique characteristics of the individual making the relevant decision ▪ Given at birth ▪ Acquired by experience and socialisation  Situational Factors: Particular features of the context that influence whether the individual will make an ethical or unethical decision ◦ Work context ◦ The issue itself including intensity, ethical framing Framework for Understanding Ethical Decision-Making October 1, 2013 Limitations of Ethical Decision-Making Models  Models useful for structuring discussion and seeing the different elements that come into play  Limitations: ◦ Not straightforward or sensible to break model down into discrete units ◦ Various stages related or interdependent ◦ National or cultural bias  Model is intended not as a definitive representation of ethical decision-making, but as a relatively simple way to present a complex process International Perspectives on Ethical Decision Making  Research on individual factors influencing ethical decision-making has a strong US andAsian bias ◦ Consistent with choice within constraints  Research on situational factors originated by European authors ◦ Consistent with concern for constraints themselves Age and Gender  Age ◦ Results contradictory ◦ However experiences may have impact  Gender ◦ Individual characteristics most often researched ◦ Results contradictory  These categories too simplistic National and Cultural Characteristics  People from different cultural backgrounds likely to have different beliefs about right and wrong, different values, etc and this will inevitably lead to variations in ethical decision making across nations, regions and cultures  Hofstede influential in shaping our understanding of these differences – our “mental programming” ◦ Individualism/collectivism ◦ Power distance ◦ Uncertainty a vodiance ◦ Masculinity/femininity ◦ Long-term/short-term orientation Education and Employment  Type and quality of education may be influential ◦ E.g. Business students
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