Deontology Should Govern Decision Making in Business

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Introduction.................................................................................................................2 2. Decision making in business.......................................................................................2 3. Characteristics of deontology .....................................................................................3 4. Arguments in favour of applying deontology in business...........................................4 5. Arguments against applying deontology in business..................................................6 6. Conclusion...................................................................................................................9 References.........................................................................................................................9

“Deontology should govern decision making in business”. Discuss.

1. Introduction
Boylan (2000: 2) refers to ethics as “the science concerning the right and wrong of human action”.

Teleology and deontology are the two major schools of thought that dominate ethical decision-making in the context of business.

Teleology refers to consequences and is founded on the principle of utility maximisation. This concept judges behaviour by its effects on the overall welfare of all stakeholders.

Deontology, on the other hand, views consequences as secondary. Under this philosophy, decisions and acts are evaluated in terms of their intrinsic worth. Deontology is more demanding than teleology, because it rates decisions and acts in absolute terms. For example, even if a decision or action satisfies the rule of the majority, deontology would reject that particular option if, as a result of it, a minority of stakeholders are likely to suffer.

2. Decision making in business
When business firms are charged with infractions, and when there is legal investigation on the managers of those firms, there is a concern raised about moral behavior in business. Hence, the level of trust, which is one of the foundations of the business environment, is threatened. In fact, managers often have to make decisions under economic, professional and social pressure. The decision-making process will always present ethical challenges. Is this the right thing to do? This question is the essence of the ethical dilemma for any decision maker in today’s corporations. A collection of factors will be taken in consideration in answering to this question. Is it right for the company? Is it right for the shareholders? Is it right for the society? For the customers? For the decision maker himself? Indeed, business people have many sources of ethical theories to choose from when making decisions. Each moral system gives a unique perspective on different situations. Managers and business owners use these guidelines to act in fair and socially responsible ways. The ground rules about which a decision maker will care are hence highly dependent on the moral approach.

3. Characteristics of deontology
Deontology bases itself on the intrinsic worth of the decision or act. No allowance is made for unethical conduct under this philosophy.

A business manager, who accepts deontology, will hold that some moral principles are binding, regardless of the consequences. Deontological ethics is the opposite of consequential ethics. The moral person does his duty regardless of the consequences. If a manager takes a deontological approach to ethics, he defines his duty by asking "What is the universal principle to be followed?" Deontological ethics refers to an established source of ethics guidance, such as industry standard or an official code of company conduct. In fact, Immanuel Kant refined deontological ethics and posited that the nature of morality is to do one’s duty even when we are not inclined to do it, and not because we are afraid of the consequences of not doing it.

Kant referred...
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