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What are business ethics?. How we behave as individuals How we organise our business and manage relationships within it How we regulate and arrange business activity within society – the laws we pass. Can business ever be ethical?.

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what are business ethics
What are business ethics?
  • How we behave as individuals
  • How we organise our business and manage relationships within it
  • How we regulate and arrange business activity within society – the laws we pass
can business ever be ethical
Can business ever be ethical?
  • There is one way, after all, that "business" and "ethics" do not necessarily go together. Succeeding in business is largely about advancing private interests - aggressively competing against other people, beating them out for the same prize, and having unlimited ambition for money, position, and power. The moral life, by contrast, focuses on our duties to others (deontology) or the consequences (teleology). For example, Kantian ethics teaches us not to hurt anyone (deliberately or accidentally), to place other people's interests ahead of our own when necessary, and always to treat others with the dignity and respect they deserve. Yet being scrupulously honest and caring in our business dealings with others can sometimes cost us sales, deals, money, and promotions. Refusing to go along with other people's unethical behaviour can even cost us our jobs. When taken too far in business, even healthy self-interest, competitiveness, and ambition can go turn into selfishness, aggression, and greed -traits that are clearly at odds with the moral life.
  • Gustaffson
globalism and globalisation
Globalism and Globalisation
  • Globalism
  • An attitude in which the needs of the worlds as a whole supersede the needs of individual nations. The movement for a single universal identity.
  • Globalisation
  • A series of measures introduced to stimulate trade around the world, for example:
    • The abolition of border controls to allow free movement of labour
    • Standardisation of taxes and laws affecting companies
    • Improvements in transport and communication
    • Creates an interdependency between countries the developed and developing worlds.

Globalism is the movement for a single universal identity Globalisation is the removal of the socio-economic barriers that prevent the creation of this new world order.

who are the different stakeholders in a company
Who are the different stakeholders in a company?
  • A stakeholder is anyone who has an interest in the long-term future of a company.
  • Stakeholder theory claims that whatever the ultimate aim of the corporation or other form of business activity, managers and entrepreneurs must take into account the legitimate interests of those groups and individuals who can affect (or be affected by) their activities. It is quite natural to suggest that the very idea of value creation and trade is intimately connected to the idea of creating value for stakeholders. Business is about putting together a deal so that suppliers, customers, employees, communities, managers, and shareholders all win continuously over time.
stakeholders employees and employers
Stakeholders: Employees and Employers
  • In the UK laws ensure safety at work, conditions of employment and he right of a worker to join a trade union or other association. Equal opportunities and rights to protect workers from discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender and sexual orientation are part of the legal framework within which businesses work.
  • In many sectors of the economy trade unions exist to protect workers’ rights.
    • Do British companies have a moral duty to British workers?
    • Does society have a duty towards migrant workers?
stakeholders consumers
Stakeholders: Consumers
  • In the 19h century the relationship between the consumer and the seller was based on the legal principle of caveat emptor meaning ‘let the buyer beware!’
  • There was no recourse in law for any inferior goods purchased. Today that system has largely disappeared to be replaced by consumer protection legislation and rules on human rights.
  • What rights do we have when we purchase something?How does that balance with our responsibilities?
is business by necessity bad for the environment
Is business by necessity bad for the environment?
  • The environmental Kuznets Curve – argues that as people get wealthier so they buy and use things that are better for the environment – in the early years of development, damage is great but later, as people become richer, the damaged environment is restored.
  • Pearce and Barbier – Blueprint for a Sustainable Economy – argued for sustainable economic growth within a cruelty-free environment. Some questioned whether ‘green growth’ was a contradiction in terms.
  • Neumayer – how can companies assess sustainability?
  • Five indicators:
    • National accounts – whether a project is worth the financial cost
    • Aggregate welfare – Welfare for the maximal number of people.
    • Natural capital – The balance of damage or benefit for the environment,
    • Ecosystem Health – Whether the ecosystem of the area remains healthy.
    • Human-environment interaction – whether it improves the relationship between the local people affected by a project and their environment
is market economics a system of ethical egoism
Is market economics a system of ethical egoism?
  • Ethical egoism: Moral agents should act to serve their own self interests
  • Market economics: A system where the sellers of a particular good or service can meet with the buyers of that goods and service where there is a potential for a transaction to take place.
  • "What is strong wins. That is the universal law. To speak of right and wrong per se makes no sense at all. No act of violence, rape, exploitation, destruction is intrinsically ‘unjust', since life itself is violent, exploitative, and destructive and cannot be conceived otherwise".
  • Nietzsche
  • According to Friedman, corporate officers have no obligation to support such social causes as hiring the hard-core unemployed to reduce poverty, or reducing pollution beyond that mandated by law. Their sole task is to maximize profit for the company, subject to the limits of law and "rules of the game" that ensure "open and free competition without deception or fraud."
whistle blowing and ethical egoism
Whistle-blowing and Ethical Egoism
  • Whistle-blowing is where the worker reports illegal or immoral activities that are being pursued by the company for whom he or she works
  • The ethics of whistle-blowing centre on the principles of openness and accountability.
  • Could this ever be justified from a perspective of ethical egoism? What would Aristotle, Kant or Bentham say?