Ethics and Law: Basic Concepts, Cases, and Dilemmas
Zicklin School of Business
Department of Law
W. Ray Williams
This compilation is intended for use during “Ethics Week.” The Law Department is firmly committed to exposing its students to ethical considerations when making legal and business decisions. As a result ethics is a component of all its course offerings. To the extent that students acquire acumen in ethical decision-making in one substantive context, that skill is readily transferable. For this reason, these materials, after providing introductory background to the discipline of ethics, approach the subject in a wide context. Cases and dilemmas present challenges ranging from the professional to the personal to the political. Instructors should take great license in using these materials as they see fit. I would suggest, however, that depending upon prior exposure, you might read the introductory material and choose a few of the case studies or dilemmas for classroom discussion.
Instructors should not feel overwhelmed or intimated by the volume of this compilation. It is anticipated that you will actually use only a small portion of the materials. The intent is to provide an array of materials for consideration. A brief description is provided of the cases and dilemmas to aid selection.
Though the material can be approached in an infinite variety of ways, it is strongly suggested that students at least be introduced to the ethical decision making framework. The following will be placed on blackboard for student access: a summary of ethics in the general sense, a brief discussion of the inter-relationship of law and ethics, and the ethical problem- solving paradigm.
This section provides in an introduction to ethics and the classical framework of ethical decision-making and a problem-solving paradigm.
This section consists of case studies.
- The Case of Maria Elena (undocumented immigrant)
- The Case Of the Sikh Temple (religious intolerance)
- An Issue of School Funding: A Business Case Study
- The Case of The Cyber City Network (digital divide)
This section consists of one to two page scenarios (dilemmas), which can be analyzed using the ethical framework discussed in Section One.
- Whose Story is This?
- For Fear of Not Passing, No Fear of Cheating
- Divulge the Past, or Let Proposal Stand on Its Own
- Corporate Giving: Follow Guidelines or Reap Short Term Benefits?
This section is entitled Ethics and the Legal Profession. It discusses several ethical issues peculiar to the legal profession and concludes with short answer question
Ethics and Social Responsibility of Business includes cases and material on moral theories and business ethics.
This section involves a negotiation between and buyer and seller. The transaction has numerous ethical considerations. Section One –Introduction To Ethics and the Classical Approaches To Ethical Decision Making
What is Ethics?
A few years ago, sociologist Raymond Baumhart asked business people, “What does ethics mean to you?” Among the replies were the following:
“Ethics has to do with what my feelings tell me is right or wrong.” “Ethics has to do with my religious beliefs.”
“Being ethical is doing what the law requires.”
“Ethics consists of the standards of behavior our society accepts.”
These replies might be typical of your own. The meaning of “ethics” is hard to pin down and views of many rest on shaky ground.
Many people tend to equate ethics with their feelings. But being ethical is clearly not a matter of followings one’s feelings. A person following his or...
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