Ethical Dilemmas

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Ethics defined is “How people try to live their lives according to a standard of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ behaviour” (Ghillyer, 2010, p.6), and Shaw, Barry, and Sansbury (2009, p.6) states the question “How are we to relate to each other in order to ensure that our individual and collective well-being is enhance?”. Ethics is crucial not only in personal and business but within our society and community, the business world is competitively brutal and without a set of ethics to follow it could be disastrous, not only for employees but employers as well. If a business has a sturdy set of ethical standards it could result in good business and good moral judgement in employees while dealing with customers and colleagues. Ethics gives individuals moral rules and codes of conduct, and facilitates us with answers to questions about what are right or wrong, duty, obligation and moral responsibility (Shaw et al, 2009, p.30). This essay is about ethics and the use of ethical elements of business decision making, which involves the moral standards and principles and how it affects the outcome of a decision, and to help give an ethical response to Alice’s case study, The Layoff. In order for me to give the right advice to Alice to respond to her friend, I will firstly identify the moral standards and principles that should be applied, what the ethical dilemmas that Alice faces and the process for decision making. Then identify key ethical theories like, Consequentialist theories: Egoism, Utilitarianism, and Non-consequentialist theories: Kant, Ethic of Care and Virtue Ethics. Equipped with these theories, moral standards and principles, I should be able to go through the process and come to a reasonable ethical response and prove that Alice should keep the information confidential.

There are many characteristics to moral standards that Alice has to take into account when making a moral judgement, like someone’s action or behaviour, whether it is right or wrong and what consequences does the judgement have on that individual’s well-being. Moral standards take priority over other standards and another characteristic is that the standards reliability is depended on the sufficiency of the reasons that support or justify those (Shaw et al, 2009, p.7 - 12). Shaw et al also goes on to explain that the nature of morality is prominent from etiquette which is about being courteous and being well mannered within society, from the four kinds of law, statues, regulations, common law and constitutional law, and lastly from professional codes of ethics which is special rules governing the members of a profession. Furthermore there are other principles that may need to be considered like religion which has the “Golden Rule – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Shaw et al, 2009, p.13); ethical relativism theory where society dictates what is right and wrong. Accepting a principle means you will be strongly motivated toward the conduct required by the principle and against behaviour that conflicts with it. All of the standards conflicts with Alice and her situation and all can make the decision difficult to cultivate, as there are many ethical dilemmas that can derive from them, negative and positive.

To determine Alice’s ethical dilemmas one must know what comprises a circumstance to become an ethical dilemma to begin with. An ethical dilemma is a situation which there is no obvious ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ decision and cannot be resolved satisfactorily. Ghillyer (2010) listed the following characteristics of a dilemma: leaving an equally right choice undone, others likely to suffer something bad as a result of your choice, your choice contradict a personal ethical principle and your choice requires that you abandon an ethical value of your community or society. Because Alice is management her situation faces many dilemmas that contradict her personal principles as well as her organisation and business ethics. The main dilemma...
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