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Introduction to Ethics

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  1. Introduction to Ethics MBA 670

  2. Some Basic Issues • Topics of discussion • Legal systems • Moral / ethical considerations • Social forces • Morality vs. legality vs. social forces MBA 670

  3. Legal Systems • Rules or laws that regulate behavior • Necessary for any large-scale social organization • Codification of a society’s standards • Types of laws • Property rights • Family issues • Business conduct • Private action (criminal activity) • Types of systems • Origins of law MBA 670

  4. Types of Systems • Common law (i.e., “common” to all England, not regional customs) • Based on tradition, precedent • U.K., U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India (i.e., British influence) • Both civil and criminal covered • Civil law • Based on codified law • Corpus Juris Civilis (Justinian, 6th centrury AD), Code Napoléon • Civil only covered (transactions between individuals) • Religious law • Theocratic rule • Usually associated with Islamic countries (sharia) • Canon law • Used to regulate ecclesiastical matters MBA 670

  5. Emperor Justinian MBA 670

  6. Hammurabi • Babylonian ruler, ca. 1792-50 BC • First written law code • Primarily commercial transactions MBA 670

  7. Babylonian Commercial Laws 104. If a merchant give an agent corn, wool, oil, or any other goods to transport, the agent shall give a receipt for the amount, and compensate the merchant therefor. Then he shall obtain a receipt from the merchant for the money that he gives the merchant. 105. If the agent is careless, and does not take a receipt for the money which he gave the merchant, he can not consider the unreceipted money as his own. 121. If any one store corn in another man's house he shall pay him storage at the rate of one gur for every five ka of corn per year. 235. If a shipbuilder build a boat for some one, and do not make it tight, if during that same year that boat is sent away and suffers injury, the shipbuilder shall take the boat apart and put it together tight at his own expense. The tight boat he shall give to the boat owner. MBA 670

  8. Babylonian Property Laws 36. The field, garden, and house of a chieftain, of a man, or of one subject to quit-rent, can not be sold. 37. If any one buy the field, garden, and house of a chieftain, man, or one subject to quit-rent, his contract tablet of sale shall be broken (declared invalid) and he loses his money. The field, garden, and house return to their owners. 38. A chieftain, man, or one subject to quit-rent can not assign his tenure of field, house, and garden to his wife or daughter, nor can he assign it for a debt. 39. He may, however, assign a field, garden, or house which he has bought, and holds as property, to his wife or daughter or give it for debt. MBA 670

  9. Babylonian Criminal Law 194. If a man give his child to a nurse and the child die in her hands, but the nurse unbeknown to the father and mother nurse another child, then they shall convict her of having nursed another child without the knowledge of the father and mother and her breasts shall be cut off. 195. If a son strike his father, his hands shall be hewn off. 196. If a man put out the eye of another man, his eye shall be put out. [ An eye for an eye ] 198. If he put out the eye of a freed man, or break the bone of a freed man, he shall pay one gold mina. 199. If he put out the eye of a man's slave, or break the bone of a man's slave, he shall pay one-half of its value. 205. If the slave of a freed man strike the body of a freed man, his ear shall be cut off. 206. If during a quarrel one man strike another and wound him, then he shall swear, "I did not injure him wittingly," and pay the physicians. MBA 670

  10. Babylonian Justice 1. If any one ensnare another, putting a ban upon him, but he can not prove it, then he that ensnared him shall be put to death. 3. If any one bring an accusation of any crime before the elders, and does not prove what he has charged, he shall, if it be a capital offense charged, be put to death. 4. If he satisfy the elders to impose a fine of grain or money, he shall receive the fine that the action produces. 5. If a judge try a case, reach a decision, and present his judgment in writing; if later error shall appear in his decision, and it be through his own fault, then he shall pay twelve times the fine set by him in the case, and he shall be publicly removed from the judge's bench, and never again shall he sit there to render judgment. MBA 670

  11. Babylonian Family Law (I) 129. If a man's wife be surprised (in flagrante delicto) with another man, both shall be tied and thrown into the water, but the husband may pardon his wife and the king his slaves. 133. If a man is taken prisoner in war, and there is a sustenance in his house, but his wife leave house and court, and go to another house: because this wife did not keep her court, and went to another house, she shall be judicially condemned and thrown into the water. 135. If a man be taken prisoner in war and there be no sustenance in his house and his wife go to another house and bear children; and if later her husband return and come to his home: then this wife shall return to her husband, but the children follow their father. MBA 670

  12. Babylonian Family Law (II) 137. If a man wish to separate from a woman who has borne him children, or from his wife who has borne him children: then he shall give that wife her dowry, and a part of the usufruct of field, garden, and property, so that she can rear her children. When she has brought up her children, a portion of all that is given to the children, equal as that of one son, shall be given to her. She may then marry the man of her heart. 148. If a man take a wife, and she be seized by disease, if he then desire to take a second wife he shall not put away his wife, who has been attacked by disease, but he shall keep her in the house which he has built and support her so long as she lives. 183. If a man give his daughter by a concubine a dowry, and a husband, and a deed; if then her father die, she shall receive no portion from the paternal estate. MBA 670

  13. The Laws of Æthelberht, King of Kent (560-616 AD) 21. If a man slay another, let him make bot with a half leodgeld of 100 shillings. 31. If a freeman lie with a freeman's wife, let him pay for it with his wergeld, and provide another wife with his own money, and bring her to the other. 39. If an ear be struck off, let bot be made with twelve shillings. 40. If the other ear hear not, let bot be made with twenty-five shillings. 54. If a thumb be struck off, twenty shillings. If a thumb nail be off, let bot be made with three shillings. If the shooting [i. e. fore] finger be struck off, let bot be made with eight shillings. If the middle finger be struck off, let bot be made with four shillings. If the gold [i. e. ring] finger be struck off, let bot be made with six shillings. If the little finger be struck off, let bot be made with eleven shillings. MBA 670

  14. Code Napoléon • Product of French Revolution / Napoleonic reforms • Idea was to give France a unified, logical legal system • The result -- Code Civil des Français, promulgated on March 21, 1804 • Three major areas: • Personal status (marriage) • Property (easements) • Acquisition / transfer of property (wills) MBA 670

  15. Ethics • The area of philosophy concerned with human behavior in the social context • Based on a consideration of values, rather than facts (although it is necessary to determine the facts) • Not the same as legal considerations (although laws overlap with society’s agreed-upon ethical standards) • Economic factors not part of ethical decisions (although many ethical decision have economic implications) MBA 670

  16. Sources of Ethical Beliefs • Basic human values • Reciprocity (Golden Rule) • Altruism • Institutional sources • Religion • Philosophy • The environment • Historical setting • Cultural values MBA 670

  17. The Problem….. • Often, different moral philosophies lead to the same results (we don’t settle disputes by cold-blooded murder) • But, there are also circumstances when differing perspectives lead to different answers Then What? MBA 670

  18. The Golden Rule “Every religion emphasizes human improvement, love, respect for others, sharing other people's suffering. On these lines every religion had more or less the same viewpoint and the same goal.” -- The Dalai Lama MBA 670 Source:

  19. Is the Golden Rule Enough? • Can we always assume that we “know best”? That is, do we do unto others what we think they should want us to do? • When we are looking ate people different from us, do we fall into this trap: the Golden Rule applies, but just to “us”, whoever “us” may be. • It doesn’t tell us what is right and wrong, just that our actions toward others be what we would want ourselves MBA 670

  20. Altruism • When a person acts in another’s benefit, as a cost to him / herself • Why? • Doesn’t it make more sense to do what benefits us? • However, biology (kin-selection theory) tells us that it makes sense to help a relative, even at the cost of one’s own life • But, we’re not animals – does that make a difference? MBA 670

  21. Source: World Religions MBA 670

  22. On the day of judgment, the honest Muslim merchant will stand side by side with the martyrs - The Prophet Mohammed The World of Islam MBA 670

  23. Moral Values in the Work Setting: Islam • Prohibition on charging interest • Lending fees • Leasing • Share of a bank’s profits rather than interest • Investment (Syariah principles) • operations based on riba (interest) such as banking or finance companies • Gambling • Manufacture and/or sale of haram (forbidden) products such as liquor, non-halal meats and pork; and • Elements of gharar (uncertainty) such as conventional insurance MBA 670

  24. Philosophers • Asia • Is it religion or philosophy • Is this even a valid distinction • Western philosophers: A long tradition • Classical thinkers • Theologians • Enlightenment philosophers • Writers in other areas (politics, social issues) MBA 670

  25. Socrates and Plato • Socrates (470 BC – 399 BC) • Virtue is knowledge of what is good • Virtue has an existence of its own; we know what is good without being told • Virtue cannot be taught • If one knows what is good, one will act virtuously • Plato (428 BC – 348 BC) • Platonic forms – Pure, eternal and unchanging ideas, that exist independently • Differs from Socrates, in that Plato believed that virtue could be taught MBA 670

  26. Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC) • Virtue is fulfilling a function • Function / life goal = self-fulfillment • Virtue is “a state of deliberate moral purpose consisting in a mean that is relative to ourselves, the mean being determined by reason, or as a prudent man would determine it.” • Moral purpose – voluntary, deliberate action • Some actions are evil or virtuous in and of themselves (e.g., adultery) • Other actions require judgment to find the mean (cowardice vs. foolhardiness) • Virtue comes from strength of character • Virtue involves both feeling and action • Virtue is innate, but also requires training and practice to form proper habits MBA 670

  27. Theologians • St. Augustine (354 AD – 430 AD) • Influenced by Plato and Platonic philosophers (merged classical and Christian thought) • Every work of God is good; evil comes from mankind and the freedom they have to choose (also, original sin) • Evil does not have an independent existence (the Manichæan heresy) • St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) • Influenced by Aristotle • Mankind aspires to goodness • Goodness or virtue requires the exercise of reason MBA 670

  28. Others • Niccolò Machiavelli (1469 -1527) • Herbert Spencer (1820 –1903) • Social Darwinism • Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 – 1900) • The great man can make his own rules MBA 670

  29. Niccolò Machiavelli • The Prince • Bad reputation today, but also a very pragmatic thinker • What actually occurred versus what actually worked: …the gulf between how one should live and how one does live is so wide that a man who neglects what is actually done for what should be done learns the way to self-destruction rather than self-preservation (XV) • The end -- stable rule -- justifies the means: …a prince, and especially a new prince cannot observe all those things which give men a reputation for virtue, because in order to maintain his state, he is often forced to act in defiance of good faith, of charity, of kindness, of religion (XVIII) MBA 670

  30. Social Darwinism • Is human potential a product of our genes or our environment? • A question relevant even today • The Bell Curve and critics • The nineteenth century approach: • Adapting biological models of evolution to social change and evolution • Social Darwinism MBA 670

  31. Darwin and Natural Selection • Nineteenth century naturalist • The Origin of Species • Populations contain variability • Natural selection among population • The result -- evolution Photos from MBA 670

  32. Enlightenment Philosophers • In general, these people separated theology and philosophy • Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804) • Deontology • What are one’s duties? • Jeremy Bentham (1748 – 1832) • Teleology • Utilitarianism (greatest good to the greatest number) • John Stuart Mill (1806 – 1873) • John Locke (1632 – 1704) • Social contract • Natural rights of mankind • “The right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” MBA 670

  33. Deontology • Deontological ethical systems hold that a person renders ethical decisions if he or she acts based on what is right, regardless of the consequences of the decision • In this formalistic view of ethics, what is right is based on the categorical imperative, which is the notion that every person should act on only those principles that he or she, as a rational person, would prescribe as universal laws to be applied to the whole of humankind. MBA 670

  34. Teleology • Teleological (or consequential) ethical systems are concerned with the consequences of an act rather than the act itself • Basically, the goal is the greatest good for the greatest number. • But what is the “greatest good”? • Per Mill, mankind strives to avoid pain and gain pleasure • But, we are human beings, with dignity and “higher faculties;” so it isn’t just hedonism • Two varieties: • Act-utilitarianism, where one’s goal is to identify the consequences of a particular act to determine whether it is right or wrong • Rule-utilitarianism, which requires one to adhere to all the rules of conduct by which society reaps the greatest value. MBA 670

  35. John Locke • English physician and philosopher (1632-1704) • People governed by “natural law of reason”, not tradition or authority • Therefore, government depends on consent of governed • Civil society founded on private property • Right to pursue individual goals MBA 670

  36. Social Contracts • How can society best be structured and regulated? • Governments are based on the “social contract” • As a m,ember of society, I agree to the contract by remaining a member of the society • Reciprocal obligations that can be changed MBA 670

  37. Adam Smith • Scottish economist (1723-1790) • Division of labor • Greater efficiency • But at a human cost • Market forces • Opposed to mercantilist ideas (laissez-faire) • “The invisible hand” • Rewarding labor to motivate, rather than keeping people hungry • But…..does Smith ignore “benevolence?” MBA 670