Ethical Dilemmas Associated with Corporate Bribery

Topics: Utilitarianism, Ethics, Immanuel Kant Pages: 5 (1782 words) Published: August 8, 2011
Ethical Dilemmas Associated With Corporate Bribery

In today’s business world, bribery has become an everyday problem. Some people consider it to be a fair business tactic, others consider it to be an unethical act. This paper focuses on a particular bribery case and uses three different ethical theories, Utilitarianism, Kant, and virtue ethics to determine whether or not bribery is an ethical or unethical act.

The Case
A former partner of a prominent New Jersey law firm has been indicted on bribery charges in exchange for legislation and other favors intended to benefit the attorney’s land-developer clients. Eric Wisler is charged with making regular payments to Democratic, New Jersey Senator Wayne Bryant totaling $192,000 from 2004 to 2006. Currently, Wisler faces a total of 37 counts of mail and wire fraud, as well as one count of offering a bribe. The stakeholders in this case involve a large scope of individuals and businesses. Eric Wisler, Wisler’s land developer clients, and Senator Bryant were the biggest stakeholders in this case. However, there certainly were many more affected by these illegal acts. All other land-developers and stockholders were unknowing stakeholders. They were losing business as a direct result of not participating in bribery. Other stakeholders in this case were lawyers and clients in Wisler’s law firm. Some people may also argue that all lawyers in general were stakeholders. Due to the unlawful actions of one lawyer, all other lawyers lose a hint of credibility as a result of this case. The same can be said with politicians. As a result of one Senator’s criminal acts, people’s distrust of politicians builds. Utilitarian Consideration

Utilitarianism is considered a teleological theory, meaning that the rightness of actions is determined solely be the amount of good consequences they produce. According to utilitarianism, morality is about producing good consequences, not having good intentions. The utilitarian argument is broken down into two distinct groups, rule and act utilitarianism. Act utilitarianism looks at the consequences of each individual act and calculates utility each time the act is performed. In order to determine if an act is ethical, the action must produce more hedons than dolors. In the case of Eric Wisler, the consequences do not demand that the rule should be broken. Before the scandal was uncovered by authorities, Wisler, Wisler’s land-developer clients, and Senator Bryant would have been identified as hedons. As a lawyer, Wisler was fulfilling his obligations to his land-developer clients, although illegally, by obtaining legislation to support their cause. Wisler’s land-developer clients would also be considered hedons in the scandal before it was revealed. The bribes were made in exchange for legislation and other favors intended to benefit this group of people. Lastly, Senator Bryant would have been recognized as a hedon. Over a two-year period, Bryant was able to accumulate $192,000 simply for influencing legislation. After this scandal was uncovered, all of these players were quickly categorized as dolors. The dolors in this case were other land-developers who were not clients of Wisler, Wisler’s law firm, businesses in the area, and politicians. Unfortunately, due to Wisler’s bribery other land developers who were not clients of his lost business. During 2004 and 2006, during Wisler and Senator Bryant’s arrangement, Wisler was a partner at DeCotiis, FitzPatrick & Cole. Although the firm was not aware of the illegal activities, the practice has lost its credibility, causing them to lose a great deal of clients. Other businesses in the area are also potential dolors in this case. Some local businesses were hurt by the legislation passed by Senator Bryant and as a result, have not been as successful. Lastly, on a much broader scope, politicians in general can be considered dolors. Citizens have been known to be untrusting of politicians. This...
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