Virtue, Ethics and Morality in Business

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  • Topic: Ethics, Virtue, Business ethics
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Virtue, Ethics and Morality in Business

To understand, virtue, ethics, and morality we must first understanding there meanings. According to Boatright, “”morality and ethics are interchangeable; however, they have some subtle differences.” (Ethics and Conduct of Business, Boatright) Webster’s Dictionary describes ethics as the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation; a set or moral principles. Webster’s Dictionary describes moral as of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior; expressing or teaching a conception of right behavior; conforming to a standard of right behavior; sanctioned by or operative on one's conscience or ethical judgment. Webster’s Dictionary describes virtue as conformity to a standard of right. Aristotle’s’ definition of virtue, which I prefer, “virtue is as character trait that manifests itself in habitual action”.

Virtues are inherited traits that are practiced on a daily bases. You would not know what type of virtue a person has such as honesty by meeting them once, you would truly have to get to know that person. Knowing these definitions makes Boatright’s theory make a little more sense. To be ethical you have to have morality.

Business virtues are having a sense of pride and self-respected in what you do; to make sure you can get along with others. Making a good life for yourself, family and your community should mean more than just making money. When you go to bed each night with the feeling you made a difference for the better, for that day, you should feel that you have done your job.

Business Ethics can be defined as written and unwritten codes of principles and values that govern decisions and actions within a company. In the business world, the organization’s culture sets standards for determining the difference between good and bad decision making and behavior. A definition for business ethics boils down to knowing the difference between right and wrong and choosing to do what is right. The phrase 'business ethics' can be used to describe the actions of individuals within an organization, as well as the organization as a whole.

In cases like Johnson & Johnson with the Tylenol Crisis of 1982, in which bottles of Tylenol had been laced with cyanide, it is very difficult to make decisions about being ethical and moral. Especially when doing so may cost the company you represent millions or billions of dollars. However, James Burke, Chief Executive Officer of Tylenol proved that he was not only ethical but also moral and virtuous. He made a life altering decision for Tylenol by pulling all Tylenol bottles off shelves due to cyanide contamination. He also turned this crisis around in Tylenol’s favor by devising a way to ensure this contamination could not happen again. Tylenol developed a tamper proof bottle for it’s medicine.

Yes, virtue has the strengths in the fact that you can rely on your own moral experience, and not always with the rules and regulations. But virtue also has its weaknesses, such as the incompleteness, involving limits of rules. You can’t control that a long life friend of yours has to take a drug test as part of being hired for a job, and you know she doesn’t do drugs. Ethics, morality, and virtue thinking is applied to everyday living. Ethics provides principles pertaining to good and bad, and right and wrong. Being aware of ones ethics is essential in today’s society on a personal and professional level.

A lot of companies are having potential employees take ethical/moral tests to find out if these people are a good fit for there company. In addition, they want to get into the mind of the applicant to know how they think, how they would react in different situations, how they would respond to fellow employees, customers and management based on their personal life experiences.

The Ethics Awareness Inventory is a program that can evaluate one’s ethical style. Because most people view...
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