Whether one is an employee or an employer, showing exemplary practice of ethical and moral behavior is indispensable to achieve an ample business environment. It is well known that morals and ethics are linked to personal character. Nevertheless, ethics and morals play a pivotal role in how people carry out business activities. Though business ethics is one of the broad categories of ethics, philosophers categorize ethics into three groups namely meta-ethics, normative ethics and applied ethics (Allhoff & Vaidya, 2005). Normative ethics are guide people on how they ought to act.
There are two major normative ethics theories namely utilitarianism and deontology. These are the theories that are going to be discussed in this essay and how they can be applied in a company or business set up. Before discussing how these normative case theories can be applied in a business or company set up it is essential to discuss the fundamentals of each. Utilitarianism is the first theory to be discussed. This is one of the most canonical ethical theories.
It has along history that stretches as far as the era of the Epicureans of classical Greece in 300 B.C.E.
Nevertheless, it was popularized by such philosophers like David Hume, Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. The main thesis of this case normative theory is that actions are right when they capitalize on total summative happiness (Allhoff & Vaidya, 2005). As such, going by this theory, one should choose the act that is bound to fetch the most happiness into the world.
Since utilitarianism tries to predicate the right action through experimental results, it has been termed as a scientific approach to ethics. This poses a challenge of how to measure happiness. Nevertheless, this puzzle was solved by one of early philosophers who advanced the theory, Jeremy Bentham who developed seven basics contained in the famous hedonistic calculus. Apart from utilitarianism, the second case normative theory is deontology.
Etymologically, this word means the study of rights and duties. This means that the primary consideration in determining whether an act is moral or not is to consider its one right or duty to do it. Though this approach is not opposed to happiness as the final product, a deontologist does not consider this as the primary concern. One of the early philosophers who advanced this theory is Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) who believed that actions should be guided by maxims or simply put, a rule of action. Going by this rule, every action that one does should be base on some backdrop conditions which are particularly relevant. The above discussed normative case theories have many applications in the business set up (Smedley, 2008). For purposes of this essay, reference will be made a general electric and engine fixing company.
In this type of working set up, there are a number of moral problems that one is bound to encounter be whether they are employers or employees. This essay will only sample out a single moral problem and examine it from the deontological and utilitarian perspective. The issue to be highlighted is pollution. This is a phenomenon common in such companies. The decision to dispose off waste products is obviously arrived at after some lengthy discussions. What do these companies consider? From a deontological approach, it is their duty to conserve the environment through safe disposal means while at the same time; it is the company’s duty and the right to get rid of its waste at whatever cost even if its disposal means are a threat to the environment. What should be given priority? The company has a duty to dispose off the waste in order to work efficiently. However, from a utilitarian approach, the company is supposed to consider the action which brings happiness to the greatest number of people.
In this case, safe disposal of the waste in order to conserve the environment will be top on the agenda of the company officials. This case study implies that case normative theories bring about different decisions in a similar scenario and therefore, the decision to perform a particular act is based on the approach one takes.
Allhoff, F. & Vaidya A. (2005). Business ethics (eds). Vol.
1. Retrieved from http://files.allhoff.org/research/Sage_Introduction.
pdf Smedley, R.F. (2008). Ethical issues in human resource management. Retrieved from http://www.cgu.edu/PDFFiles/sbos/HRD327.pdf