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MGMT 1040
William(bill) Woof

Ethics 1. Ethics (moral philosophy) deals with individual character as well as the moral rules that guide a person's conduct o Looks at questions such as what is right and wrong, fair and unfair, duty and obligation, justice and injustice, etc o The terms "ethical" and "moral" are completely interchangeable 2. Business and organizational ethics o Business ethics focuses on studying what is considered right and wrong, good/bad, and human conduct in general in a business context • Ex. What should an employee do when their superiors refuse to look into potential wrongdoing happening in the company? o An organization is a group of people working together to achieve some sort of common purpose • This purpose may be for profit, such as in a business, but it can also be to provide a not-for-profit service such as health care Moral versus non-moral standards 3. Whenever one attempts to answer a moral question or make a moral judgment, you make your decision based on your moral standards o Wearing shorts to a formal dinner party is not proper etiquette, but it does not pose a threat to human well-being o Moral standards differ from these because they deal with behavior that has serious consequences to human welfare, and can harm or benefit people • Moral standards take precedence over all other standards, including your self-interest  Ex. Our morals tell us not to rob our neighbor's home, even though we could justify it on non-moral grounds by saying that it would give you lots of money or a thrill • The soundness of a moral standard depends on the reasons that support it  These reasons are not created by one specific person or group of people 4. Morality and etiquette o Etiquette refers to the norms of what is considered correct behavior in a polite society, a special code of social courtesy o We often judge people's manners as "good" or bad", and the conduct that goes with the manners as "right" or "wrong" • These statements mean socially appropriate or inappropriate, and do not express judgments about ethics, only manners o Rules of etiquette are non-moral in character • However, violating etiquette can raise moral problems  Ex. A boss calling a female employee as "honey" shows bad manners, but if it also lowers the worth of female employees or spreads sexism, it creates a moral issue 5. Morality and law o There are 4 different types of law • Statute  Laws created by legislative bodies, such as the parliament, provincial legislative assembly, etc in Canada or the Congress and state legislatures in the U.S.  Legislatures are limited in their knowledge, so they can create boards who issue detailed regulations of certain kinds of conduct, called administrative regulations • Regulations • Administrative regulations • Ex. Licensing boards that create regulations governing the licensing of physicians and nurses • Legally binding as long as the regulations don't exceed the board's statutory powers and don't conflict with other laws • Common law  Precedent set through judge rulings in various cases in the past, which are referred to when dealing with similar cases • Constitutional law  Court rulings on the requirements of the Constitution and the constitutionality of legislation • The Supreme Court is able to decide if laws are compatible with the Constitution, and are able to interpret it • This gives them the greatest judiciary powers o Breaking the law is not always immoral, and the legality of an action does not make sure that it's morally right • An action can be illegal but morally right  Ex. Helping a Jewish family hide from the Nazis was against German law in 1939 • An action that is legal can be morally wrong  It is legal for a company chairman to lay off workers and use half the money saved to boost the pay of executives, but the morality of this is open to debate o Law codifies a particular society's customs, ideals, norms and moral values • Changes in law tend to reflect the changes in what a society thinks is right and wrong, but sometimes the law can alter people's ideas about right and wrong as well • Sensible and morally sound laws alone are not sufficient to establish moral standards 6. Morality and professional codes o Professional codes exist between etiquette and law o Rules that govern the conduct of members in a specific profession o Professional codes can include a mix of moral rules, professional etiquette, and restrictions that are used to benefit the group's economic interests • Due to this, they are not a complete or reliable guide to moral obligations 7. Where do moral standards come from? 8. There are various influences on our moral principles o Upbringing, principles of those around us, standards of our culture, our experiences, and critical reflections on these experiences 9. An important question is not what or how we came to have our principles, but if they can be justified o Some argue that morality boils down to religion o Others argue for ethical relativism • Ethical relativism is the idea that morality and right/wrong is not a product of religion but a function of what a particular society believes is right and wrong o Both of these views are wrong Religion and morality 10.Any religion gives people who believe it a worldview, and part of this involves some moral instructions, values and commitments o Ex. Don't do something to others that you don't want done to you • One of humankind's highest moral ideals found in all the great religions of the world 11.Religious bodies occasionally state positions on specific political, educational, economic, and medical issues which can mold public opinion on them 12.Morality doesn't need to depend on religion o Some think that without religion, people have no incentive to be moral, etc o However, most of the time we act morally out of habit or because that's just the kind of person we are • We are often motivated to do what is morally right out of concern for others or just because it is right o Moral instructions of religions are usually general and imprecise • Ex. The Bible says "Thou shall not kill" • Christians disagree over the morality of fighting in wars, capital punishment, killing in self-defense, etc o Morality is not necessarily based on religion • However, religion influences moral standards and values of most people Ethical relativism 13.Some people don't believe that morality boils down to religion but that it is a function of what a specific society happens to believe o This is ethical relativism • What is right is determined by what a culture or society says is right 14.Something can be considered right in one country and wrong in another o The argument for this is that there is diversity in human values and moral codes o However, disagreement about ethical matters doesn't mean that all opinions are equally correct 15.Problems with ethical relativism o We cannot morally criticize a practice of another society as long as their actions conform to their own standards o Relativists don't believe in ethical progress • Moralities can change but won't get better or worse o For a relativist it makes no sense for people to criticize principles accepted by their own society • The moral code cannot be criticized 16.Relativism and the "game" of business o According to Albert Carr in his essay "Is Business Bluffing Ethical?", business has the impersonal character of a game • It needs special strategies and an understanding of its special ethical standards • This means business has different rules and norms than the ones used by society  Things normally considered wrong may be allowed in a business context o Carr is defending a type of ethical relativism, where business has its own standards and should be judged by them only o This idea is wrong, as just because some special activity has its own rules doesn't mean we cannot evaluate it using our moral principles • Ex. The Mafia has a complicated code of conduct accepted by rival "families", but that does not mean they cannot be criticized for following their own standards o As well, business activity can affect those who have not freely chosen to play the "game" Having moral principles 17.When a person accepts a moral principle, it becomes part of their moral code and they believe it is important and justified o The person becomes strongly motivated toward the conduct needed by the principle, and against conduct that conf
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