Is Business Bluffing Ethical?: Albert Z. Carr
Carr argues that bluffing is business is normal. There is nothing novel to it and there is nothing morally wrong to it. He based his argument on the difference between what we consider as normal morality, such as one has come to understand it from a religious perspective, and as seen when one is playing poker. He said that business is a game and it has to be played using the rules of an unforgiving sport.
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The illustration he used was that of a poker game, the players are the businessmen and they have the right and the duty to win at all cost as long as they play well within the boundaries of the game.
This is an interesting argument because it tells the truth of how businessmen are trying their best to win at all cost even if it requires them to bend the rules. As long as they will not break any law it has become an accepted practice among businessmen and even society. It is difficult to disagree with Carr because of the numerous cases that his argument has proven true.
It is also very much evident in the business world, the way corporations try to exploit the rules and use every type of loophole they can find to make it work to their advantage.
But Carr’s argument is not all negative, he seems to be proposing a stricter set of rules and invited the public to monitor what is going on in the corporate world so that they can force businessmen to provide quality products and services and not sell them anything that can harm their health or their wallets.
Does it Pay to Bluff in Business?: Norman Bowie
Norman Bowie on the other hand does not believe that bluffing should be allowed and considered as ethical business practice. He used the example of what can happen in an acutely adversarial world of labor relations, specifically collective bargaining.
Bowie said that in this context bluffing is implicitly or explicitly used but resulted in more harm than good. Bowie said that the repeated use of white lies creates an atmosphere of distrust.
In collective bargaining management will bluff by telling the labor union that the roof is falling over their heads because of competition and other types of business problems that they cannot solve without the help of the workers.
As a consequence they needed them to give back something to the company and this comes in the form of cutbacks in salary in order to preserve their business. A win-win situation is supposed to occur because everyone keeps their jobs.
But the moment the workers realize that they had been lied to then there would be no more concessions in the future and they would pressure management to give them something that they know management cannot provide but they had to bluff because it is part of the game. This is the reason why Bowie said that it does not work in the long run.
Building Trust : Robert Solomon and Fernando Flores
Solomon and Flores said that building trust is necessary but easier said than done. Trust is a word that many would love to hear but fear its implications especially in the corporate world. According to the authors trust should not be used as a noun because it is a dynamic; a thing that requires initiation and maintenance from CEOs down to the rank and file employees.
They asserted that if the whole world understands the beauty of trust then things get done and it is easier to accomplish the impossible because less energy is used to discern if the other person is trustworthy. Solomon and Flores also argued that deep down every person is ready to trust as long as they know that the other person will not take advantage of their trust.
Therefore, the only thing needed to be done is to initiate trust and to sustain it by showing that everyone is in the same boat – that there is a need to build trust to live, survive and succeed.
It is easier to agree with Solomon and Flores’ theory on how to run a business as compared to what was proposed by Carr.
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Bowie also said something that made a lot of sense but he was unable to provide a clear solution to the problem, he was merely providing a counter-argument to the controversial proposition made by Carr.
Trust is better than bluffing. Bluffing is tedious work. If business is played like a poker game then it can be compared to a lone worker slaving his way. He does not understand teamwork because he views everyone with suspicion.
A thief can never sleep peacefully at night. And just like the poker player he holds his cards close to his chest and he cannot ask for assistance. In order for that person to win then he must either be an expert liar or he must be an expert in the game – he must know everything there is to know to outmaneuver and to outlast his opponents. But in real life no man is an island. A businessman is not created overnight, he must go through a process of learning and how can this be done if he trusts no one?
The Issue of Economic Justice
Justice as Fairness: John Rawls
John Rawls argued that in order to have justice there must be fairness in all levels of society. In the context of who gets what and why they get it Rawls proposed that there should be no equal wealth distribution. In other words justice and fairness can be achieved without resorting to socialism. Rawls pointed out that this can be achieved if men and women come together and decide that there must be equality when it comes to the assignment of basic rights and duties.
He also added that although it is imperative that members of that society come to terms with the fact that there will be inequalities in terms of wealth and authority it is permitted for the attainment of the common good. In addition Rawls said that even though there are those who will start out with greater wealth and greater status in the community, everyone must be given a chance to reach the same level of affluence and authority if they so choose to be one.
Rich and Poor: Peter Singer
Peter Singer said that there are rich and poor people in this world. However, he clarified that many are not aware of the seriousness of the divide between rich and poor. There are those who thought that they are poor and yet in fact they are not. Many citizens of affluent countries are living their life without the slightest clue that there is such a thing called absolute poverty. And it is a level of poverty wherein a human being cannot be expected to live life in a decent manner.
Children born into this type of poverty cannot even afford to eat correctly for their brain to grow the normal way. On the other hand people living in rich countries such as in the United States, Europe and oil-producing nations of the Middle-East will eat not to sustain their bodies but for enjoyment. This is unacceptable according to Singer and he proposed that the rich should give to the poor.
Exploitation of Need: Joanne B. Ciulla
Joanne Ciulla said that it is wrong to exploit the needy. She said that many justifications were made to ensure that exploiters have a clear conscience after they exploited the needy but she argued that this is wrong.
Even if he desperate mother or is in need of food there is no excuse for the shabby treatment she received from her employer. She also said that there can never be any type of justification that can be used to make slavery an acceptable practice.
A poor and desperate person enters into an agreement without her full consent because he or she was forced by circumstances. Although Ciulla opposes exploitation she is did not give a clear alternative. She said that workers should be paid and not be enslaved and yet she laments the loss of freedom that comes hand-in-hand with employment.
The best argument with regards to economic justice was spelled out clearly by Peter Singer when he pointed the huge gap between those who are truly rich and those who are truly poor. It may sound as if it is a dole out – a practice frowned upon by many in the West – but his argument is sound if one looks at it from the perspective of assisting someone who is stuck in a hole and could never get out of it unless an outsider is willing to offer a hand.
Singer’s proposal is even more helpful if one will realize the chain-reaction of events that will occur if there are less hungry and desperate people around the world. There would be a reduction in forced migration, less sickness, more productivity, and less number of desperate young men who may be attracted to terrorism or banditry as a way of life.