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Ethical Dilemma in Business

Free Essay Sample «Ethical Dilemma in Business»

Ethics is a set of moral principles and values that control the behavior of a person or group of people and determine the positive and negative assessments of their thoughts and actions (Ethics, n.d.). Ethical dilemma is the unit of analysis of normative business ethics. Any situation that is of interest to business ethics is the situation of choosing between ... – anyone here usually wants to admit “good” and “evil”, but this opinion is erroneous since the choice between good and evil is not a problem. The real ethical dilemma is a choice between “good” and “good”, for example, part of the revenue goes to the consumers of the company, which increases the price, or the employee chooses between work at the weekend at the request of the chief and his own holiday. In all these cases, the scales are “good” and “good”, but for different people. This choice is the main problem of ethics. Translating this definition into the language of modern concepts of business ethics, the ethical dilemma arises when there are "conflicting expectations of stakeholders of the company and the simultaneous failure to meet those expectations.”

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These days, the world’s widely discussed issue is corporate social responsibility to the society and future generations. For large corporations, social responsibility has long been a compulsory part of the activities included in standard reports and it has become a part of the routine work. Christian theologians traditionally speak of the divine nature of morality. An individual gets it in the form of "natural moral law" (internal law) and in the form of revelation (external) of the act. Religious interpretation of the origin of morality has a number of advantages. Above all, it emphasizes the universal common to all human morality. Divine precepts apply to all people without exceptions. Before morality and before God, all are equal – the rich and the poor, the king, the president, and the last “slave”. Religious teaching, in particular, protects from simplified utilitarian approach to morality and elevates moral strivings to high life meaningful issues. Religion, by its influential sphere, can limit the scope of subjectivism and arbitrariness in moral judgments and estimates. The problem of the interaction of religion and morality occupied the minds of various philosophers of antiquity. In addition, different and sometimes opposing views have been expressed since antiquity concerning this issue. Religious ideology in the past and now quite categorically says that morality cannot exist without religion, just like a tree without roots. It is in the religion that the morality draws its strength to execute the “good” and it is the religion that gives a person a sense of being and of higher moral values (God is the living embodiment of the “good”).

A man with a strong faith in God, basically, cannot be a source of a potential conflict or a problem. People of such principles are inclined to awareness, action, and responsibility in a situation of misunderstanding before the members of the community in which they are engaged. However, at the same time these people are full of robust rules that are conditioned by the strict canons and traditions of the church. William is a creative designer in a local newspaper of the city he lives in. His work activities are greatly appreciated by the leadership; William is full of ideas and effectively solves all his tasks. Once William came into the office dressed in an ecclesiastical robe. The staff did not criticize his deed, but throughout the whole day discussed it. The authorities understood that they were to take an action. A good and effective work of William definitely played a role in the resolution of the situation. The management did not want to lose a professional employee, though his act was not very clear to them. There were no questions “why?”, “what for?”, and so on. The management tried to get the idea what made him do this; thus, the found reason was the best key to avoid misunderstanding and further possible conflict. The method of active dialogue gave a positive result; William accepted the convictions and received a vacation. The research showed that William was feeling alone. Moreover, he tried to underline that everybody should have faith in God. Respectively, William was informed that he had the right to believe and to spread his idea among others, but he was also told that the company had its own ethical aspects that were to be followed. The management also assumed that he was aware of it before and that the act he did might influence others to cause a negative reaction.

One of the most influential ethics in business is the theory of utilitarianism. Utilitarianism  is the direction in ethics (ethical theory) whereby the moral value of conduct or action is determined by its usefulness (Keele, 2008). In everyday life, utilitarianism is any activity, which is based on a rough calculation of the material, the desire of all to profit from a narrow empiricism. Inexorable regularity prevails in the evolution of ethics. Ancient ethics developed the principle of humanity lost in the face of the late stoicism interest to organized society that existed in the ancient state. Modern utilitarianism again loses its sense of humanity and t the extent that it becomes a consistent ethics of a socially organized society. It cannot be. The essence of humanity is that individuals can never think of it as impersonal expediency, which is typical of the public, and cannot let any individual become a victim. Morality aimed at prosperity of the organized society cannot offer anything other than the sacrifice of individuals or groups of individuals. Society cannot exist without victims. Ethics, coming out of a personal philosophy, tries to distribute these victims, so that they are due to the altruistic feelings of individuals that are possibly voluntary and that the severity of the victims is somewhat easier thanks to the participation of other individuals. This ethics is the doctrine of self-sacrifice. Sociological ethics, rejecting individual ethics, argues that according to the progress of the society, there are the inexorable laws at the expense of freedom and happiness of individuals and groups of individuals. It is the doctrine of the "victims".

In some cases, income and expenses cannot be measured. The example is that installing expensive ventilation systems on the shop floor can eliminate the carcinogenic dust and other conditions causing pulmonary diseases of the workers. It should be also assumed that the result of such actions would increase the working life for five years. How is it possible to calculate the cost of life and to compare it with the cost of ventilation and the cost to install it? Some workers have applied their claims to government administration proving that the production conditions can be less harmful for them in case the head management installs the system. Those workers are not afraid of losing their job because there is nothing more expensive than their own lives. Critics of utilitarianism, i.e. "the measurement problem", nullify any attempt of proponents of this theory to make it comprehensive.

 Moral right is devoid of law (Sturm, 2011). However, a man always feels the presence of such a law when it is infringed upon him/her. If a legal right is easy to prove by consulting a lawyer or reading the book, the moral right of human reasoning is backed by his/her own conclusions. People prove their moral right based on the arguments: I have the right to know, have the right because I have bought and so on. There are, however, exceptions. Moral rights of certain social groups of people are legislated. For example, doctors and priests’ moral right not to disclose the secrets of patients or parishioners has a legal basis. There is also a category of universal rights. Laws secure them, but at the same time, they are the moral rights of people. These rights are also called by the term "freedom". For example, the famous Declaration of Human Rights in the United States has legally enshrined fundamental freedoms of the citizens of the country. The right belongs to the category of regulators of human social behavior in the society. Here, it is closely related to the concept of morality. Morality and law interact with each other. Law reflects the prevailing morality in the society. Along with this, morality condemns illegal actions of members of the society. Law and morality are different methods of implementation. The right to rely on the public system and to enforce a version of moral principles is guaranteed by the force of public opinion.

A young woman who was a secretary in the widely known successful company was desperate after being humiliated by boss in public, though it did not matter was it in private or in public. A woman faced the aggressive behavior, when stack of files was thrown in her face. Thus, the boss wanted to punish her for bringing him wrong files. A woman realized that the act was irremissible towards her. Therefore, she came to his office to state that such behavior is not acceptable not only for her, but for the rest. She reminded that occurred case was recorded on security cameras, had enough witnesses, and asked not to let such occasions happen again, otherwise it will be granted a wide publicity. Thus, a woman avoided the possible dismissal and proved her morality.

The concept of ethics of justice is connected exclusively with the relationship of business and society in general. It serves as a basis for the validity of moral rights of the individual. The essence of the concept is that people are social beings living and developing in the society, and therefore obliged to ensure their functioning. The basic principle is equality and justice. Consequently, the moral imperative is obedience to the law, which is the same for all, and it has denied the privileges and discrimination, which is fair. Nevertheless, the provisions of the concept can be interpreted in different ways because there are at least four interpretations of the concept of "justice": • egalitarian; • capitalist; • communist; • J. Rawls’. Egalitarianism approach (egalitarianism is from Fr. Equality) negates any differences between people, which can serve as a reason for the unequal attitude toward them. Therefore, the distribution of benefits of the public domain should be uniform. Capitalist approach supposes that justice in this case involves the division of wealth in accordance with the size of the contribution of groups, organizations, and society as a general matter, the enterprise. Communist approach supposes that justice is in the equaliization of all members of the society (regardless of ability). The approach of the American scientist J. Rawls that is offered in his book "Theory of Justice" (1971) is based on two principles: • equal freedom, which requires the protection of the rights of citizens against the encroachments of others, and equality of rights; • inequality in social and economic indicators, in which there shall be observed every treatment available to government agencies and providing opportunities to maximize the profit of the least privileged persons (Kay, 1997). The complexity and diversity of the moral problems of the business and the characteristics of modern cultures are forced to use different ethical systems, principles, and values, which implies a different ethical evaluation of the same phenomena in the field of business.

A company is to create and test the multimillion projects for the customer. Everybody understands that this will greatly influence the company’s future, its market position, and credit. The company involves the best two specialists and reorganizes the projects between them, defining the periods and desired quality. The projects are closely tied and should be tested by turn. Specialist “A” makes his project part faster, asks for bonuses, while specialist “B” finishes in time and argues the demand of a colleague, insisting on the existence of non-justice. The management sets the following procedures – specialist “A” is to assist his colleague in case he accomplishes his job faster and both of them will be generously rewarded after the successful transaction with the customer. Thus, the management has kept the motivation and united the workers with the common aim.

Criticism insolvency of classical moral philosophy of the second half of XIX century has become a sign of many theoretical concepts. The peculiarity of ethical review of care is determined by the fact that the criticism of classical moral philosophy here is performed in the light of the current understanding of European culture differentiation of sex roles. Abstractness of classical ethics, in terms of feminist scholars, is an expression of its masculine character, i.e. reflects the experience of identifying the men in the European culture. In this purely masculine moral position in classical ethics, it is presented as universal, hence declared abnormal. Thus, according to feminist scholars, in the framework of classical ethical tradition the women's moral experience is not simply ignored, which significantly depletes the tradition, but is also theoretically assigned with a subordinate position in the culture of women and all those who do not fit the masculine standard (Gilligan, 2011). Ethics of care is constructed as an alternative to the classical tradition; it is an attempt to create a moral and philosophical concept based on the rationalization of women's moral experience. Creators and supporters of ethics of care believe that even if the concept has not completely overcome the classical tradition, it has at least substantially revised and complemented it. First of all, in their opinion, the ethics of care provides a theoretical basis for the criticism of any social practices that support the subordination of women and for the resistance to the implementation of these practices. The latter is the most significant in the ethics of care for its theorists identifying their ethical concept as a feminist one. Indeed, it has been the advent of feminism that the humanity is obliged to ethics concerns. However, the desire, by all means, stands in the line of feminist ethics, sometimes leads to the artificial separation of the feminist ethics of care from non-feminist concepts, and is the cause of underestimation of classical ethics and unjustified criticism.

Dr. "A" does not like patients. He does not like people. He is cynical, self-confident, and dreary. At times, he makes inhumane acts. Nevertheless, if there is a medical mystery, Dr. "A" is who is needed. However, if there were a man on his deathbed, would he want to choose Dr. "A"? The answer to this question is likely to be negative. A man would rather prefer Dr. "B". Dr. "A" does not care for patients while Dr. "B" takes care of everyone. He does his job and considers moral issues, which work puts before him.

Mixing some ethical and theoretical constructions of diverse value-normative content – social, ethical, and individual-perfectionist – is seen as the result of their criticism and imperfection of the methodological grounds. This vision of the idea of public morality and the ways of its conceptualization do not seem to take into account the possibility of conscious and methodologically sound connections within a single description of moral values and normative data contents. Convincing embodiment of such a theoretical position reveals a modern ethics of virtue (Cline, n.d.).

The employee used to have job extra-hours, which let him earn bonuses on a previous workplace. After quitting that job, he continued this practice at a new one. Despite having good results, the management did not pay any bonuses, arguing that he was not asked to do this. A man then insisted on a revision of his duties. Thus, he was engaged in more company’s activities, having a bigger salary.

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