Topics: Ethics, Business ethics, Morality Pages: 8 (2014 words) Published: May 23, 2011
Business ethics

-Ethics derived from the Greek word ethos – which refers to the conventional customs and norms of a given culture – the term ethics can be understood in two ways: • as a traditional field of philosophical inquiry dating back to ancient Greece, which is concerned with values as they relate to human conduct; and • as the systematic study of norms and values that guide how people should live their lives. -Ethics is to do with what is good and bad or right and wrong. The study of ethics can be either descriptive or normative. Descriptive ethics involves empirical research or inquiry into the actual rules and standards of a particular social group. Normative ethics is concerned not only with what people believe they ought to do, but also with what they really ought to do. It therefore entails taking a position. Nevertheless, it must be recognised that these two categories are in actual fact intertwined, as even the most empirically minded individuals engage in prescription as well as description. There is therefore no conceptual barrier to combining descriptive with normative ethics.

-Business ethics theories include the moral principles or codes a company implements to ensure that all individuals working in the company act with acceptable behavior. Business owners and managers can use an ethics theory they deem most appropriate for use in their operations. A few different business ethics theories exist, such as the utilitarian, deontological, rights, justice, common good and virtue approach. These theories can be used on their own or in combination with each other. Each theory includes specific traits or characteristics that focus on specific ethical principles that can help companies correct business issues. -The utilitarian approach focuses on using ethical actions that will promote the most good or value among a society while limiting the amount of harm to as few people as possible. Among the business ethics theories, this is typically seen as the oldest theory, as it was propagated by many philosophers, such as Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) and John Stuart Mill (1806-1873). Businesses can use this theory to ensure the outcome of various situations helps the maximum amount of stakeholders. The “rightness” or “goodness” of one's action is not inherent in the action per se, but can only be judged by its consequences (or ends). Utilitarianism is the dominant ethical perspective in the business sphere, and can be seen as a “calculating approach” to ethics (Fisher and Lovell, 2006). A common example of business utilitarianism is the adoption of ethical principles – not because it is the “right thing to do” – but because of the image enhancement which this may produce, in view of society's increased demand for ethical conduct in the business sphere. A positive company image creates what is known in the literature as “reputational capital” or advantages accruing to companies from a good reputation which may lead to positive outcomes in areas such as improved employee morale, increased strategic flexibility and enhanced financial performance. -The deontological system (Immanuel Kant: 1724-1804) is based on the assumption that actions must be guided by universalisable principles and rules which apply regardless of the consequences of the actions. For Kant, the “moral person” is one of good will, who makes ethical decisions based on “what is right”. From this viewpoint, nevertheless, an action can only be morally right if it is carried out as a duty – not as an expectation of approval or reward. -The rights ethical approach is based on the belief that all individuals have rights in life and should be treated with respect and dignity. Morals play a large role in this because individuals must personally use ethical behavior in order to achieve the end goal without mistreating people. -Justice as an ethical approach is where all humans are treated equally through society, regardless of rank, position, class,...
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