Module 3: Business and Outsiders
In this module we will examine the ethical constraints on the way businesses treat those
outside the boundaries of the organization. In particular, we will examine ethical
obligations to other businesses and to individual customers.
This module is therefore divided into two sections. The first section is on the question of
whether there is an obligation to be honest when engaging in business negotiations.
The second is on advertising, and the obligations that businesses have with regard to
the impact of advertising on prospective customers.
You will be reading 4 articles from the textbook. There will be a number of questions
designed to help you evaluate your own understanding of the articles. You will also
have an opportunity to take part in a discussion forum based on your reading.
At the end of Part 1, you should be able to:
1. Describe the significance of the difference between honesty and candour, and
describe situations in which the latter seems preferable.
2. Offer a reasoned opinion as to a) whether deception is a necessary part of business
life, and b) whether business practices ought to be exempted from the usual moral
restriction on lying.
Deception in Business Negotiation
In this section of the module, we will examine the question of whether it is morally
permissible to lie in the context of business negotiations.
Is Lying O.K. When it's "Part of the Game"?
Please read this Commentary before the assigned readings. This commentary will give
you a general introduction to the relevant issues.
Most people will tell you that they think that lying is wrong, or at least that it is usually
wrong. Indeed, all known cultures have rules against lying - or at least rules that limit the
circumstances in which it is permissible to lie. In mainstream North American culture, for
example, lying is generally considered a bad thing. There are, however, exceptions.
Sometimes we may tell a "little white lie" - for example, to save someone's feelings from
being hurt or to save ourselves some embarrassment. A concrete example might be
telling your grandmother that you "really like" the unfashionable sweater she has knit