In case study number one, a board member of The Energy Cooperative would like to call his own personal potential clients and be able to state, “I am calling as a director of The Energy Cooperative.” The following paper will analyze the ethical issues surrounding the use of such a statement from five different ethical theories. These particular theories come from Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, John Locke, John Rawls, and Lawrence Kohlberg. Finally, there will be a solution that the board should take with the issue, ethical, or otherwise.
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) had an ethical theory dubbed the Categorical Imperative. Within this theory he discusses the morally right and morally wrong ways to go about an action based on experience, which one must gain throughout the course of his life. Because the different moral ways are something that cannot be taught, but actually acquired through experience, something that is morally right at one point in life can later become morally wrong (Janaro, 2009). The example for this particular scenario suggests that if everyone at the Energy Cooperative decides the statement is ethically and morally right to use, then by Kant’s theory, it is ethical.
However, this is just the tip of the categorical imperative that “if everyone else could adopt the same decision and it would remain the right choice. . . the decision is ethical” (Kaplan eGuide Chapter1, 2014). The real question, which is easier to understand, and is the underlying basis for accurately interpreting Kant’s theory is “would it be okay for everyone else to do this?” (Janaro, 2009). In this scenario one would hope that at least one board member would say “of course it is not okay for everyone else to do this. It is a misrepresentation of the reason you are actually calling the potential client.” Would it be universally acceptable for a telemarketer calling you, trying to get you to switch cable companies to start the conversation with “I am a survivor of cancer and part of the American Cancer Society?” There is nothing ethically wrong with it as long as everyone agrees that it is okay to put irrelevant information in the beginning of the conversation. If the director can get every board member to agree that it is okay, then it is ethical and can be done. However, if just one of the personal potential clients complains, then it is no longer ethical and should be stopped, according to Kant’s categorial imperative.
The second ethical theory which was started by Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) and later slightly altered by John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) is called utilitarianism and started by trying to prove that self-interest was not wrong. By putting the irrelevant alternate job description information first in a conversation it would be helping the director’s image by having the affiliation with The Energy Cooperative. If self interest is considered ethical, then the self interest of the affiliation with The Energy Cooperative is also ethical. However, after Mill’s revision, the utilitarianism theory became described as ethical if it “clearly result[s] in the greatest happiness of all affected parties” (Kemerling, 2011). Therefore, the solution changes significantly because the self-interest is now a group-interest.
In this scenario there are many people involved which include all the potential personal clients, the board of directors, and the actual members of The Energy Cooperation. For the request of the director to be considered ethical there would need to be a larger number of people gaining from the self-interest of the director than not gaining, especially when compared to other similar situations. The number in the group is something that can be up for debate, which can cause the situation to go from ethical to non-ethical in an instant. Finally, under the utilitarianism theory revised by John Stuart Mill, it would not be considered ethical to use the case study scenario job description information to start out a phone...
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