Definition of Ethical Theories
Ethical theories are a set of rules or guidelines that guide the process of decision making by business leaders. They are applied to issues concerning human resources, corporate social responsibility, and evaluation of managers’ performance (Crossan, Mazutis, & Seijts, 2013). Each theory has a different role and can act as a predictor of the outcomes of an action or can be used to follow up on someone’s duty or performance.
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Ethical Reasoning of Child, Youth, Adulthood, Mature Adult
A child is egocentric and tends to avoid punishments for wrongdoings. The child feels special, and their thoughts have not organized any order but move from one thing to another without any logic (Saxe, Whitfield‐Gabrieli, Scholz, & Pelphrey, 2009).
At this stage, the person does what he or she thinks. Delayed reasoning, self-centeredness, and tendencies to avoid punishment characterize this stage.
People tend to think of prosperity, which draws them together to work as a group to succeed. They have concern for the society, which makes them reason with diligence.
They reason well and are responsible for their actions, which are fair and just. They apply critical reasoning and can distinguish good from bad and perform an in-depth analysis of issues simultaneously (Blasi, 2009).
Ethical Reasoning Theories: Egoism, Utilitarianism, Rights and Justice
Egoism focuses on individual benefits and can be adopted as long as it increases personal gains.
Utilitarianism involves the assessment of the consequences of any action taken by the business since it involves a common good for the majority. Sometimes utilitarianism may interfere with individual freedom for the common good of everyone. An individual acts irrespective of their personal feelings provided the outcomes benefit most people. In rule utilitarianism, even though the actions taken benefit many people, they should be fair and within the law (Woiceshyn, 2011).
Rights and Justice
There are fundamental things that one is entitled to based on the analysis of human dignity. For instance, justice requires that all individuals should be treated with fairness. However, exceptions might exist in special cases. Nevertheless, the ultimate decision must be within ethical theories. In rare circumstances, an individual in power can bestow a right to another person.
The Weakness of Egoism
Since egoism is self-centered or is based on individual gains, there should be no conflict between the situations in question. In unemployment and environmental pollution, egoism is adversely affected.
The Weakness of Utilitarianism
It compares the benefits with the total costs. If one option causes massive benefits to many people, utilitarianism holds. For instance, euthanasia can be advocated if the death of a patient saves the concerned family the costs to be incurred in the management of a terminal illness. However, if the parties have personal gains, this principle is hampered. Business leaders employ their past experiences to predict the outcome of an action.
However, in reality, no one is certain about the outcomes. Uncertainty, in this case, may result in very poor outcomes that may benefit few people or lack any benefit thereby leading to a poor business reputation alongside losses. In act utilitarianism, there is no fairness applied (DesJardins & McCall, 2014). Therefore, the rights of one individual might be infringed to derive more benefits for other people.
The Weakness of Rights and Justice Approach
Conflicts between rights and justice may exist. For example, the construction of a social amenity may displace some people to provide space, yet the amenity benefits many people. Rights and justice differ in various countries and are determined by the laws of society (Woiceshyn, 2011). For example, in the United States, the right to freedom is observed by all Americans and supported by their constitution because their founding father fought for the right to freedom.
Fundamental Human Rights
Human rights are privileges that an individual is entitled to by the state for survival irrespective of race, religion social class or color (Scherer & Palazzo, 2011).
Fundamental human rights include security, religion, speech, political affiliation, education, health, life, and ownership of property.
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Blasi, A. (2009). The moral functioning of mature adults and the possibility of fair moral reasoning. In Narvaez, D. & Lapsley, D. (Eds.), Personality, Identity, and Character, (pp. 396-340). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Web.
Crossan, M., Mazutis, D., & Seijts, G. (2013). In search of virtue: The role of virtues, values and character strengths in ethical decision making. Journal of Business Ethics, 113(4), 567-581. Web.
DesJardins, J. R., & McCall, J. J. (2014). Contemporary issues in business ethics. Brooklyn, MA: Cengage Learning. Web.
Saxe, R. R., Whitfield‐Gabrieli, S., Scholz, J., & Pelphrey, K. A. (2009). Brain regions for perceiving and reasoning about other people in school‐aged children. Child development, 80(4), 1197-1209. Web.
Scherer, A. G., & Palazzo, G. (2011). The new political role of business in a globalized world: A review of a new perspective on CSR and its implications for the firm, governance, and democracy. Journal of Management Studies, 48(4), 899-931. Web.
Woiceshyn, J. (2011). A model for ethical decision making in business: Reasoning, intuition, and rational moral principles. Journal of Business Ethics, 104(3), 311-323. Web.