The Definition of Ethics and the Foundation of Moral Development

Topics: Ethics, Political philosophy, Business ethics Pages: 6 (1805 words) Published: December 23, 2012
LS 312 Ethics and the Legal Environment
Unit 2 Assignment
The Definition of Ethics and the Foundation of Moral Development Dianne Wing
Kaplan University
December 18, 2012

Ethics is simply defined as a set of principles of right conduct, the motivation based on ideas of right and wrong. It is also the study of the general nature of morals and of the specific moral choices to be made by a person (moral philosophy). Ethics also speaks to the rules or standards governing the conduct of a person or the members of a profession as in medical or business ethics (Free Dictionary, 2012). The Theorist

John Rawls 1921-2002
John Rawls was an American political philosopher in the liberal tradition. His theory of justice as fairness envisions a culture of free citizens with equal basic rights acting together in a democratic economic system. His description of political liberalism speaks to the legitimate use of political power in a democracy, intending to show how lasting unity may be accomplished despite the diversity of worldviews that free institutions tolerate. His work on the law of people extends these theories to liberal foreign policy, with the purpose of showing how a peaceful and tolerant international order might be achievable (Wenar, 2012).

John Rawls is recognized as being among the most important political philosophers of the late twentieth century. He is best known for his theory of Justice as Fairness that advances principles of justice necessary to govern a modern social order and offers a hypothetical variation on the social contract theory, in which rational representatives make social decisions from behind a "veil of ignorance" that prevents prior knowledge of what status they will hold. According to Rawls, this method would produce a society where individual freedoms are maximized for all and social inequality is justifiable only under conditions that would be beneficial for its least-favored members (Kemerling, 2011). This theory explains the significance of political and personal liberties, of equal opportunity, and of co-operative arrangements (compromise) that benefit both the more and the less advantaged members of society (Garrett, 1996). The ‘least advantaged,’ then, are not those least advantaged by nature aside from or prior to participating in the economy, but they are those least advantaged by their participation in the economy. The ethical issue

Twinkies Courtesy of Google Images
Hostess Brands (maker of Twinkies and Wonder Bread) closed its doors last month, putting more than 18,000 people out of work because, according to company officials: greedy unions asked for too much (Johnson, 2012). Hostess CEO’s were quick to blame the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, that represented thousands of striking Hostess Brand workers who had refused to accept a new contract that would once again, slash their salaries and retirement benefits. But then a different story began to emerge: The private-equity

owners had loaded the company down with debt, the CEO had tripled his pay, and the union had already taken a huge pay cut twice before (Johnson, 2012).
Since the 1980’s Hostess has been sold at least three times, racking up debt and shedding profitable assets along the way. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2004, and again in 2011 - with little thought of updating the product line or reinvesting in the modernization of the bakery (new equipment, more modern facilities, etc.) changes sorely needed to compete in today’s marketplace (Olen, 2012). They did not make the changes necessary to grow the company and make it a profitable business.

What Hostess Brands’ management did do was to award themselves several hefty raises, even as they complained that it was the workers who were grossly overpaid. But did the CEO’s and other shareholders deserve such profits and awards at...
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