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Ethical Concepts Essay


As Cline (2011) provides, “ethical concepts is an association of people organized under system of rules” (p.1). He broadly defines ethical concepts as “rational examination of morality and evaluation of people’s behaviour”. This provides rules and guidelines aligned with business objectives for the realisation of business strategic goals (De George, 2010).

Ethical concepts have enables coordination and management that ensures implementation of company planning to operate effectively. Overall success of an integrated business objective is stated by Cline (2011) as a “guiding conduct and principles for evaluating rules rational based on formal laws” (p.1).

This therefore implies that ethical conducts are indeed management function and requires the integration of both morality and evaluation of people’s behaviour in a given setting. It also implies what Cline (2011) succinctly defines to be “morals are derived from society’s system of values” (p.1).

Kantian deontology is basically a duty based ethic. As Cline (2011) argues “good without qualification is a goodwill” (p.1). As a control and coordinative function, deontology is increasingly becoming important integration unit in many business application services. Cline (2011) further defines deontology as “Deontology as approaches in ethics usually constructed with teleological approaches” (p.1).

The author is trying to explain that ethics have increased the global nature of interdependent to ethical conducts which in turn enhances business strategy (Takala 2007; Ross 1963,). Kantian deontology is basically grounded in duty that requires people to be responsible to each other (Sheth 1994).

Rule deontology on the other hand determines what Cline (2011) defines as “the basis for moral obligation, act on a rule that can be universally binding on all people” (p.1). In other words, deontology acts on the rule that ensures people are treated equally at the end.

Kant’s moral theory is based on the assumptions that “views of the human being have the unique capacity for rationality” (p.1).This approach to ethical concepts has influenced the forces will see today. Business Ethics (2005) reasons that propensity applies to what he states as “reasoned thoughts and actions, and it’s exactly this ability which obliges us to act according with and for the sake of duty” (p.1).

Their contribution and impacts sufficiently support Kant’s belief that argues in Business Ethics (2005) that “inclination, emotions and consequences should play no role in moral action” (p.3). This theory captures how emotions are applied and challenges moral actions. This simply implies that motivation for action should be equated with moral obligation.

Business Ethics (2005) further adds that “morality should provide us with a framework of rational principles (rules) that guide and restrict action-independent of personal intentional and desires” (p.3). In this regard, deontology should be generally understood as a critical requirement to corporate principles and development inter-relationships that meet company’s needs.

Consequently, realisation of the need to make moral obligations importance to organisation has become practical bringing with it an intertwined relationship business ethics and corporate strategy.

Deontology definition tries to answer the following questions as stated in Ethical Concepts (2005) as “what is my moral duty, what are my moral obligation, how do I weigh one moral duty against another?” (p.2).

In other words, deontology plans to integrate into the corporate system moral duties and obligation that are specific and adequate to allow understanding of each application, and to understand its procedural order of development. This simply means that organisations should provide a new checklist to ensure most critical priorities are met first.

Therefore, if the best consequence such as happiness or pleasure has resulted from moral obligation, it means that the theory is utilitarianism because pleasure is the absolute good. Kant’s moral theory on the other hand argues in Business Ethics (2005) that “we are morally obliged to act in accordance with a certain set of principles/rules regardless of the outcome” (p.3).

Evidently, deontology and utilitarian theories are polar opposites. In a given setting, utilitarianism is the most favoured theory since it makes most people happy in a certain set of circumstances. Business Ethics (2005) mentions this as some of the ethical complications with utilitarianism. Business Ethics (2005) stresses the theory to “disregards the intrinsic value of all persons justifies of killing one to save many” (p.3).

Put forward by Immanuel Kant in 1788, Kantian deontology is major ethical theory that applies to human conduct. Utilitarianism aims at satisfying a specific goal such as happiness and pleasure and justifies any consequence of any act that achieves that goal precisely because it achieves it.

Deontological theories on the other hand argue as provided by Business Ethics (2005) that “some acts are always wrong-even if they achieve morally admirable ends” (p.3). The same analysis explains an act, in deontology, as a morality that is constantly judged independently of its outcome.

Unlike deontology, utilitarianism does not to equate the right with the good (Ross 1972). Thus, if someone has the moral duty not to steal, then stealing is always wrong regardless if the consequences are harmful to others.

Merely as a tool for understanding business ethics, utilitarianism is basically a consequence based while ethical relativism is subjective and cultural. Relativism explains that rights and wrongs are not universally determined. Subjective relativism on other hand provides that the decisions to do right and wrong depends on an individual judgment- meaning that moral people can agree or differ on moral issues.

Finally, cultural relativism provides morals guidelines on which to determine right and wrong (McCloskey 1976). Business Ethics (2005) states that “deontologists moral systems are characterised by a focus upon adherence to independent moral rules or duties” (p.3). He adds that, “to make the correct moral choices, we need to understand what our moral duties are and what correct rules exist to regulate those duties” (p.3).

Deontological system is trying to argue that duties, rules and obligations are determined by God and re-emphasises the reason why certain actions are performed. Deontologists argue in Business Ethics (2005) that “simply following the correct moral rules is often not sufficient; instead, we have to have the correct motivations” (p.3).

While deontology is generally recognised as obligations individuals are required to adhere to, Business Ethics (2005) consider it as one of the most ethical source of moral duties and obligations. In reality, a person may not regard this as Business Ethics (2005) states as “immoral even though they have broken a moral rule, but only so long as they were motivated to adhere to some correct moral duty” (p.3).

Deontology is evidently goal oriented and a morally right action strikes to bring about happiness. Utilitarianism on the other hand means that one has to act right to bring the overall good. Deontological theories are not elaborated and do not explain theories based on features alone and fails to explain actions alongside their consequences.

Immanuel Kant questions the fundamental source of morality by stating in Business Ethics (2005) “….what is about people’s action that make susceptible to evaluation as right and wrong” (p.4). This theory explains does not classify involuntary actions performed by human beings as either right or wrong.

Kants concludes in Business Ethics (2005) that “the source of morality is our ability to rationally make decisions, our possession of a ‘will’ (in the sense of free will)” (p.2). According to Kant’s explanation to rationalism as stated in Business Ethics (2005), “morality applies to all rational beings, so its source cannot be pleasure or desire” (p.2).

The article adds that “morality applies to non emotional things like Vulcan’s even though they cannot experience pleasure. Rational being with super strong emotions would not have a higher moral strong status than us”. Kant further adds in the Business Ethics (2005) article that “without nothing beside rationality can dictate what rules of morality are” (p.2).

Kant’s theory on deontology that applies to moral goodness differentiates moral and ethical goodness different from other kinds of goodness. Ethics (2005) states, “when something serves its well served purpose. Other kinds of goodness depend on needs or desire; moral goodness is good” (p.2). Here Kant believes that “… act has no moral worth if it is not performed for the sake of morality alone” (p.2).

The article provides another example where he stated “one does not cheat his customers because it’s the right thing to do, the other doesn’t cheat his customers because it is bad for business in the long run. Kant thinks an act must be done for the sake of duty to have moral value” (p.2).

Corporate Responsibility

The second dimension ethical theory is BHP Billiton corporate responsibility embedded in its business operations, polices and practices. Involved with leading the way in the organisation operates, ethical theories when applied correctly create value with its employees, customers, shareholders and the surrounding community by connecting company’s sense of purpose with a sense of accomplishment.

Corporate responsibility ahs immensely gained recognition in top management functions. Kloppers (2007), the company chief executive states its business objective that enables it to prosper as “we must actively manage and build our portfolio of high quality assets and services” (p.1).

He further adds “we continue to drive towards a high performance organization in which every individual accepts responsibility and is rewarded for results”(p.2). It is worth mentioning that BHP Billiton corporate responsibility provides a divergent between the two theories of utilitarianism and deontology in the way in which its policies are constructed.

BHP Billiton Company applies utilitarianism in the way it actively maximises the good of the society by following the principles while deontology is applied where it employs maximum efforts in avoiding the morally wrong doings or rather putting constraints on actions.

Since moral worth of an action is determined by the will, Kloppers (2007) states, “we earn the trust of employees, suppliers, customers, communities and shareholders by being forthright in our communication and consistency delivering on commitment” (p.3). This in itself is a moral duty that strives to fulfil an action as applied by Kantian deontology which is a duty based ethic. On the other hand Cline (2011) argues that

a correct motivation alone never is never a justification for an action in deontological moral system and cannot be used as a basis for describing an action as a morally correct. It is also not enough to simply believe that something is the correct duty to follow.

Duties and obligations must be determined objectively and absolutely, not subjectively. There is no deontological system of subjective feelings; on the contrary most adherents condemn subjectivism and relativism in all their forms (1).

Dating back to the 60’s radicals, Cline (2011) states “the most significant thing to understand about deontological moral systems is that their moral principles are completely separated from any consequences which following those principles might have” (p.1). Thus if someone’s moral duty not to spread gossip, then gossiping is always wrong even if it does not result to harming others.

BHPbilliton (2010) goes on to state their mission as one that “values the environment and sustainment development, committed to achieving superior business results, and one that builds relation which focuses on the creation of value for all customers” (p.1).

By trying to respect the company and its immediate environment, Kloppers (2007) mission statement highlights company’s efforts of “embracing diversity, enriched by openness, sharing, trust, teamwork and involvement” (p.1). Also by “accepting the responsibility to inspire and deliver positive change in the face of adversity” (p.1) is another way of creating value and embracing corporate responsibility (Narveson 1977.

BHP Billiton Code of Business Conduct (the Code), represents the company’s commitment to uphold ethical business practice. Since utilitarianism aims at satisfying a specific goal such as happiness and pleasure and justifies any consequence of any act that achieves that goal precisely because it achieves it, the company’s adherence to local customs, laws or regulations, code requirements applies to this ethic.

Kloppers (2007) re-emphasises this code by stating “upholding our values relies on every one of us, everywhere, every day, taking responsibility for our decisions and actions “(p.5).

Kloppers (2007) further provides a clause in the code that stated “we are successful in creating value when our shareholders are realizing a superior return on their investment, when our customers and suppliers are benefiting from our business relationship, every employee starts with a sense of purpose and ends each day with a sense of accomplishment” (p.6).

The code has been structured with detailed information regarding work related activities and provides the expected business behaviour. This code explains integrity and good judgement support operations and spreading power away from local administrative support functions to the centre of strategic integrated operation.

Kloppers (2007) goes ahead and explains that “the code does not remove the need for us all to exercise good judgement-It just makes it easier for every one of us to do so” (p.10). Goes on head and adds. …”we all have a responsibility to work with integrity and good judgement” (p.10). BHP Billiton Company focuses on adherence to moral rules or duties just as deontologist provide.

Kloppers (2007) explains that correct moral choices require thorough understanding company’s moral duties and correct rules that regulate those duties. Cline (2011) also explains that following stipulated duties is adherence to moral behaviours and when we fail, we are behaving immorally. Cline (2011) concludes by adding that deontology is “following duties, rules and obligations are determined by God” (p.1).

However, by merely following correct moral rules do not necessarily mean moral obligations are met; correct motivations aligned with morals obligations are required. Cline (2011) finalises his argument by stating that correct motivations “might allow a person to not be considered immoral even though they have broken a moral rule, but only so long as they were motivated to adhere to some correct moral duty” (p.1).

Justice According to Rawls and Nozick

Justice according to John Rawl’s theory is based on the idea that society provides mutual relationships between individuals (Lacewing 2002). In Pollock’s (2002) book ‘Capitalism for Consenting Adults’ Nozick argues that wage inequality that is justifiable is wrong. He views society as a cooperative venture for mutual gain; when he stated that “gains derive from the collaboration by the participants in society’s formal market economy” (p.1).

A further premise from Phelps (2002) posits that “in virtually anyone’s pay check, the part is the gain from cooperation is going to dwarf the part that could have been earned toiling as a hermit outside society” (p.1).

Rawls wonders what kind of principle is being agreed upon when deciding which taxes and subsidies to be determined in average gain and how the gains are distributed over the economy’s contribution (Lordwick 1975. His theory rejects the idea of generalising net pay rates to all employees regardless of their social status (Kilcullen 1996).

In support of Nozick theory, Lacewing (2002) argues that “determining wage gain through confiscatory taxes on higher pay, as it would not fill the right jobs with the right people and not to motivate the right effort and initiative” (p.3).

Lacewing (2002) argues for the principle that “marginal tax rates should be successively lowered from confiscatory levels, widening pay equality with each step, as long as each resulting improvement in efficiency and its consequent boost to the revenue yield serve to increase the lowest pay rate-not just higher pay rates” (p.1). Pollock’s book argues from some different perspectives.

On one avenue Pollock (2002) appears to be what Lacewing (2002) states as “peopled by largely self made men whose productivity owes little to one another or others” (p.2). On another avenue Pollock (2002) argues that “the gain per worker from cooperation is so small that not much of a break for the low-paid could be funded without causing the well-paid earn less than they could by each going it alone” (p.123).

This theory has however been long accepted preposition among economists when they argued in Lacewing (2002) that “gains from cooperatives are large next to what families could earn through self-sufficiency” (p.2).

Nozick’s theory book envisions as stated in Phelps (2002) that “a whole alliance of people might desire to secede from the society to form a new society if marginal tax rates were left as high as Rawl’s principle required; which Nozick saw this as their right” (p.3).

This could be replied as Phelps (2002) states “if the population would have endorsed Rawls principle when (as Rawls wants) they didn’t know yet whose shoes they were going to be in whether out of fear they might turn out to be low-paid workers or simply because they liked it as a principle” (p.3).

Nozick’s criticises Rawls principles by challenging his partial conclusion of taxes and subsidies giving people the impression his theory of concentrates on the assumption that economy is founded on heavy-handed market socialism. Nozick provides his assumption by supporting the theory of capitalisation evident in Europe markets.

Capitalisation as emphasised by Nozick centralises on career development and job satisfaction while challenging the nature and the results of talent development coined under the term ‘self-realisation. This theory exists on the primacy of basic freedoms including free speech. Nozick book became famous when it stated in Phelps (2002) that “America to a brighter and more secure future for capitalism at a very dark moment” (p.2).

His collective analysis argues that the 60’s radicals of American society fought fort for the benefit of the rich and powerful interests (Kingston 2003). Rawls offered us a vision with which he could counter the radicals by stating in Phelps (2002) that

America might continue with the capitalists enterprise that had been so rewarding for the majority while at the same time taking the modest steps;-lower tax rates at the low end, wage subsidies for low-wage workers, e.t.c.-to pull up the pay for low-end workers to a more adequate level and thus to involve them more widely and fully in society’s market economy and ultimately to dissolve America’s underclass (p.2).

Lewis article on wall street journal on ‘Justice and Inequality’ supports Rawls views o inequality in American candidacy.

He compares the current candidates for Democratic presidential nominations to the 1971 Rawls book; ‘A Theory of Justice’ Lewis article as stated in Phelps (2002) laments that Rawl theory on justice and equality neither argues nor supports where it states “absolute economic well-being…matters less than…relative position” (p.3).

The most significant thing is the book never mentions the subject of relative income or shares (Cooper 1977). In Rawls’s theory Phelps (2002) states “justice requires reducing the deprivation of the working poor to the maximum extend feasible-subsidizing their employment in order to raise their take-home pay to the maximum” (p.3).

This implies that tax rates on high wage will be set higher to yield maximum rate revenue while on the radical left, higher tax rates set at almost punitive levels aimed at helping working poor results to revenue loss. While trying to impoverish the most advantaged, Rawls justification on inequality meant to reduce the ‘relative deprivation’ of the poor while on the other by increasing their absolute deprivation.

Phelps (2002) explains Rawls understanding to be from the angle of the “working poor have lives to lead, even children to rise, and fret little about the rich” (p.3). True or not, Rawls conception does not portray any envy when he related good life with primary goods to have relationship with people’s quest for self-realisation’.

It is also surprising to read Rawl’s view that held “it is rational to envy people whose superiority in wealth exceeds certain limits” (p.3). This statement is itself contradictory where he fails to relate his explanations to his theory of inequality and justice (Wolf & Musselman 1998). He justifies his statement by arguing that he did so by trying to “reduce the relative deprivation of the poor (as it increased their absolute deprivation)” (p.3).

List of References

Business Ethics., 2005. Business Ethics: Kantian Ethics (Deontology). Business Concepts, 1, pp.1-4

Bhpbilliton., 2010. Code of Business Conduct. Bhpbilliton, 1, pp.1

Cline, A., 2011. Deontology and ethics: What is Deontolgy, Deontological Ethics? AboutCom, 1, pp.1

Cooper,N., 1977. Justice and Historical Entitlement. Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 7, pp.799

De George, R.T. 2010, Business Ethics (7th ed.), Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River: New Jersey

Ethical Concepts., 2005. Ethical Concepts and Theories. Aboutcom, 1, pp.137

Kilcullen, J., 1996. Robert Nozick: Against distributive justice. Modern Political Theory, 1, pp.1

Kingston, M., 2003. Rawls-v-Nozick: Liberty for all, or just the rich? Smh.com, 1, pp1

Kloppers, M., 2007. Working with integrity. Code of Business Conduct, 1-pp.80

Lacewing, M., 2002. Rawls and Nozick on Justice. Routledge, 1. pp.1-5

Lordwick, Francis., 1975. Nozick’s Theory of Rights: A Critical Assessment. Western Political Quarterly, 39. pp. 634.

McCloskey, H., 1976. Rights – Some Conceptual Issues. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 54, pp.99

Narveson,J., 1977. Anarchy, State and Utopica. Dialogue 16, pp. 298

Phelps, E. 2002, Nozick vs. Rawls on Justice, Rights and the State, Columbia University, New York, N.Y.

Pollock’s, R. 2002, Capitalism for Consenting Adults, Columbia University, New York, N.Y.

Ross, D. 1972, Right and Good, Routledge, London.

Ross, D. 1963, The Foundations of Ethics, Oxford, London.

Sheth, J., 1994. Deontology. Journal of Philosophy, 1, pp.1-2

Takala, T., 2007. A Tentative Tool for Making Morally Better Decisions in Business – a Rossian Approach. Business and Organization Ethics Network (BON), 12 (2), pp.1

Wolf, M., & Musselman, L., 1998. Voicing idea, 3, pp.49-57.

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