Utilitarianism Provides The Most Useful Approach To Business Ethics

Topics: Ethics, Virtue, Utilitarianism Pages: 2 (989 words) Published: May 11, 2015
Utilitarianism provides the most useful approach to business ethics. Discuss.

The ethical theory of Utilitarianism follows the principle of utility. This is to provide the greatest number for the greatest number. Utilitarianism provides this through being a deontological theory – basing its ethics upon consequences. The consequentialist nature allows us to apply Utilitarianism to our own situation and also, unlike deontological theories, looks onwards and into the future. In terms of business ethics, this is good for looking towards the future of a business. However, Utilitarianism ignores the motives of actions, so long as the end is good. In terms of business ethics, this could lead to companies doing good things (such as endorsing Fair Trade) in order to look good as opposed to doing it because it is fair or right. Is this the most useful approach to business, when theories such as Kantian ethics and virtue ethics, in particular, will oppose this view and suggest that business shouldn’t simply blindly follow this idea of the Invisible Hand? This put certain pressure on businesses, which in turn led to the Invisible Hand Theory, as proposed by Adam Smith. By 'invisible hand', Smith is talking about the self-regulating behaviour of the business marketplace. He simply suggests that businesses often have little control on what happens in the marketplace, and are "led by an invisible hand". You can't see the invisible hand, because it's just how business as a concept operates. For example, if there are shortages in the marketplace, the invisible hand is a metaphor for the price mechanism which raises prices to accommodate for the shortages. However, some businesses (like big supermarket chains) discuss the lowest prices of other companies and try to match them - this leads to illegal control of the market Smith argues that the consumer is what drives the market in a win-win situation. We want fair prices and good quality, which rewards good-quality and...
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