The purpose of this week’s assignment was to read three peer reviewed/scholarly journals and compare and contrast each author’s ethical perspective. The articles were: What is Business Ethics by Peter F. Drucker, 1981, The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits by Milton Friedman, 1970 and The Relevance of Responsibility to Ethical Business Decisions by Patrick E. Murphy, 2010.
Ethical Perspectives of Friedman, Drucker and Murphy
Peter F. Drucker is known as the man who invented management. Drucker wrote many books on management and influenced the way business and industry thinks about management. “Peter F. Drucker was a writer, professor, management consultant and self-described ‘social ecologist,’ who explored the way human beings organize themselves and interact much the way an ecologist would observe and analyze the biological world (Drucker Institute, 2013).”
Drucker’s paper from 1981, or 32 years ago, was trying to answer the same questions which today’s business society and government are trying to answer: What is business ethics/social responsibility and who is responsible for both? These are difficult questions to answer and questions which Drucker sets out to answer in Casuist, Ethics of Prudence and Confucianism. “Business ethics undoubtedly is a close parallel to casuistry. Its origin is political, as was that of casuistry. Its basic thesis, that ethics for the ruler, and especially for the business executive, has to express social responsibility is exactly the starting point of the Casuist. But if business ethics is casuistry, then it will not last long-and long before it dies, it will have become a tool of the business executive to justify what for other people would be unethical behavior, rather than a tool to restrain the business executive and to impose tight ethical limits on business” (Drucker, p.26) .
Casuistry is not or cannot be the solution to the business ethics dilemma. It cannot be the solution, as the business executive rationalizes why a certain action is unethical for other individuals, but not unethical for himself. Unfortunately, in today’s business society, this mindset is the norm and not the exception. Drucker dismisses casuistry due to extortion and how many societies use extortion to employ their older government employees and business executives who have been displaced due to age or younger, brighter, fresher employees taking their jobs. “The Ethics of Prudence do not spell out what right behavior is. They assume that what is wrong behavior is clear enough-and if there is any doubt, it is questionable and to be avoided. Prudence makes it an ethical duty for the leader to exemplify the precepts of ethics in his own behavior” (Drucker, p.27). Ethics of Prudence cannot be the answer to the business ethics dilemma. Who is to say what is right behavior? Society informs us what the norm is, but since we are raised in different households by different parents, everybody’s idea of right behavior is not the same. If everybody had the same sense of right and wrong, there would be no need for the judicial system or prisons. Also, there would not be the discussion for business ethics. Drucker identifies the reason for ethics of prudence not being the absolute answer as business ethics denying authority and ethics of prudence takes for granted authority exists. At the end of his paper he states: “…it is a society that must stress the Ethics of Prudence and self-development” (p.36). “Confucian ethics elegantly sidesteps the trap into which the Casuists fell; it is a universal ethics, in which the same rules and imperative of behavior hold for every individual. There is no social responsibility overriding individual conscience, no cost benefit calculation, no greater good or higher measure than the individual and his behavior, and altogether no casuistry. In the Confucian ethics,...
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