Ethical Theories

Topics: Ethics, Deontological ethics, Immanuel Kant Pages: 6 (2293 words) Published: April 16, 2014
Ethical Theories
It is vital for businesses to understand the importance of ethics in this dynamic environment. Organizations that are committed to long term success recognize and realize that creating a culture where ethical behaviors are rewarded and encouraged is the ultimate key to survival and growth. According to Joseph 2003, business ethics refers to clear standards and norms that help employees to distinguish right from wrong behavior at work, while in the other hand ethical theories are theories that involve learning what is right and wrong and doing the right thing but the fact that the right thing is not straight forward brings in the subject of ethical dilemmas. Normally ethical theories can be broken up into two separate groups, teleological and deontological. Teleological theories look to the rightness of actions and are determined by the amount of good consequences they produce and focus on outcomes that are based on decisions. In teleological theories these actions are justified by the virtue of what the actions achieve, rather than some feature of the actions themselves. In other words, decisions that benefit the overall goal and/or objective is collectively believed as a way to justify what is right or wrong. The philosophy of utilitarianism is one of the most commonly used and accepted ethical theories in the teleological group and is linked to Jeremy Bentham and John S Mills. According to Crane and Matten (2010) utilitarianism is defined as an action which is morally right if it results in the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people affected by the action. This principle focuses solely on the consequences of an action and it weighs the good results against the bad results. It also encourages the action that results in the greatest amount of good for all people involved. Utilitarianism is very powerful in business since it puts at the centre of the moral decision a variable which measures the value of an action. Deontological by contrast to teleological, consequences are irrelevant when determining what is right and wrong. Deontological theory states that people should adhere to their obligations and duties when analyzing an ethical dilemma. This means that a person will follow his or her obligations to another individual or society because upholding one's duty is what is considered ethically correct. For instance, a deontologist will always keep his promises to a friend and will follow the law. A person who follows this theory will produce very consistent decisions since they will be based on the individual's set duties. Deontological ethical systems are concerned with the nature of an action that is being judged, whereas teleological judges the consequences of the act rather than the act itself. Founded by Immanuel Kant, Kantian Ethics is the iconic representation of deontological theories. Kantianism emphasizes the principles behind actions rather than an action’s results. Acting rightly thus requires being motivated by proper universal principles that treat everyone with respect. When you’re motivated by the right principles, you overcome your animal instincts and act ethically. “Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other's welfare, social justice can never be attained” (Helen Keller). John Rawls, an American moral and political philosopher, whose major work, A Theory of Justice, had a profound impact on ethics and political theory, believed there must be an alternative view of justice than the view of the Utilitarianism where the action that benefits the greatest is the best. Rawls believed that the principles of justice and fairness among individuals must be fair. John Rawls, social justice theory seeks to create a society where the principles of justice and fairness are provided and to ensure the protection of equal access to liberties, rights, and opportunities, as well as taking care of the least advantaged members...
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