BUS 303 Chapter Notes - Chapter 4: Douglas Coupland, Know Thyself

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Ch. 4 – Sleep-Test Ethics
- sleep-test ethics = person who has made wrong choice cannot sleep soundly after
- rests on single fundamental belief: we should rely on our personal insights, feelings & instincts when we
face difficult ethical problems
- ethics of intuition
ME-ISM
- Douglas Coupland: me-ism = search by indiv, in absence of training in traditional religious tenets, to
formulate personally tailored religion by him/herself
- does not mean selfishness
 refers to customized, composite personal faith
- reflects egalitarian worldview: “you’re entitled to your views & I’m entitle to mine”
- there are ppl who do the wrong things but still sleep well, and ppl who do right things but still lie awake
THE BOTTOM LINE
- makes little sense to tell managers to follow their ethical instincts in right vs. right situations
 b/c they are pulled in diff directions by their ethical instincts!
- even if managers have strong intuition of right thing to do, should not leap into action
- ethical signals can be distorted by human wants, needs, culture, pressures & demands of org
- managers are accountable for explaining their decisions & for describing why their responsibilities have
led them in particular direction
 must be convincing & compelling for others to follow
- counterfeit version of sleep-test ethics = “I only know that moral is what you feel good after and
immoral is what you feel bad after”
EXPLOITING THE INEVITABLE
- cannot outlaw the sleep-test b/c human beings will almost inevitably rely on their intuition when faced
w/ difficult situations
- sleep-test ethics is compelling b/c
1. deeply personal; it relies on “warm, breathing truths” rather than abstract principles
 encourages ppl to ground decision in their core intuitions, passions & commitments
2. optimism: help ppl feel better about themselves b/c supposes that morally good actions are
natural & comfortable
3. hard-wired, confidence in human nature may have biological origins
4. cultural
5. extraordinarily practical
 shortcut that is uncomplicated & user friendly, simple & direct
ARISTOTLE’S SLEEP TEST
- test of integrity
- follow the ancient advice: “Know thyself”
- the emotions are frequently more reliable in deliberation that detached intellectual judgments
- Aristotle’s criteria for sleep-test
1. presupposes thoughtful, mature person
2. not just single, compelling impulse
3. not substitute for common sense, logic, or consideration of basic ethical principles
4. intuition does not lead person across boundary b/t right & wrong defined by grand principles
5. sound ethical decision can be articulated & explained to other in ways that draw on important
social & ethical practices in a society
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