This chapter examines the main ethical theories, and analyses their importance and capacity in business ethics. A key argument focuses on the position of ethical theories in business ethics including ethical absolutism and relativism.
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The majority of traditional ethical theories leans on the absolutism side whereas the contemporary ones are on the relativism side. Nevertheless, this chapter tends to prove that both positions may not be useful in business ethics.
In contrast, this chapter focuses on the pluralism position, which occupies a position based on the two theories. Different ethical theories are used to establish the pluralism position.
The chapter also elaborates assumptions upon which this position is based: the social phenomenon versus the harm and benefits. These are featured on the perspective of ethical theories use in Europe as compared to other regions.
Further, the chapter differentiates these ethical theories into two groups based on the outcome where they are categorized as either consequential or non-consequential. Here, the theories are evaluated using the moral judgment as to whether a decision is right or wrong.
The chapter explains the theories by reflecting them to certain business problems triggering ethical dilemma. In regard to the consequential theories, the chapter examines egoism and utilitarianism. In egoism, the basis of the outcomes is featured on the decision makers.
However, on the part of utilitarianism, it is based on the community. Likewise, the non-consequential theories look on two theories applied to business ethics: duties ethics and ethics related to rights and justice. The intersection of these two approaches is similar since they focus on the assumptions of the basic principles of good and wrong.
These principles are developed using categorical imperative that applies all morals regardless the benefits or harms to those involved. The categorical imperative framework is examined using three aspects. Each action is tested using all aspects upon which it is defined as being either morally right or wrong.
The aspects are based on the issues of consistency, human dignity, and universality. Various assumptions concentrating on individual rights are assessed. These include the rights to life, freedom, justice, education, and property among others.
Wide agreement about the human rights forms the basis for business ethics in all corporations. The relationship between business ethics and human rights determines the decision making process that is complemented by fairness. The perspective of human rights is directed to the view of justice on how to achieve this fairness.
The chapter provides the useful application of justice in business ethic that has empowered me on how to approach various ethical problems especially in employment practices. It compares two approaches used and the problems arising.
Additionally, it clarifies how the main challenge of inequality among people or countries can be addressed using ethical theories. The key features, forms, harms, and benefits of the ethical theories help me to identify the theory to rely on in approaching business ethics.
This chapter provides a broad category of ethical theories ranging from the traditional to contemporary ones. In this case, it provides a good platform of comparison and great assistance in reaching morally informed decisions in business ethics.
In addition, we are able to incorporate the idea of pluralism in business ethics, as wells as confront its reality. Ethical theories provide a comprehensive and considerable way to approach problems through the use of the three aspects.
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Crane, A & Matten, D 2007, “Evaluating Business Ethics: Normative Ethical Theories,” In A Crane & D Matten (Eds.), Business Ethics, Oxford University Press, New York (pp. 86-115).