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One of the most well-known moral theories in the West is Kantian Ethics. This is a complex theory that was developed by Immanuel Kant provides people with the opportunity to analyze moral issues they face while working. Being a non-consequentialist theory, it is not a person but action-oriented. Still, Kant does not pay much attention to the consequences. He is focused on the intentions people had and their reflection.
It is claimed that if one had positive intentions, the action is morally good regardless of the outcomes (Stem 62). For example, if an individual wanted to save a person from the train and unintentionally pushed one at the driving car that just appeared from nowhere, his/her action would be considered as a moral one. Still, if one is motivated to perform a particular action, as it makes a person feel good, it is not a moral action anymore.
The issue is that something should be done just because it is the right thing regardless of personal beliefs and can be approached in the same way by different people. Kant believed that morality is something general that is not related to a particular time or place. It should be done from duty but not individual desire.
Kant believed that people should base their actions only on those maxims that are universal and follow the pattern: “I will A in C to realize or produce E” (I will do some action in particular circumstances to achieve such outcome) (“Kant’s Moral Philosophy” para. 28). If some contradiction occurs, the maxim cannot be used and applied to all people. In this way, individuals tend to question if there is a possibility of contradiction and if the one who developed a certain maxim would accept it when being used by another person.
Kant’s second (humanity) formulation encourages people to treat each other with respect and not to make use of each other because a person is to be valued and not the things he or she can do for you (to profit from) (“Kantian Ethics” para. 34). In this way, if someone conducts an action that fails to meet this formulation, it is considered to be not morally permissible according to Kantian ethics. Still, if the person one seems to use rationally consents to being used (because it is one’s job, for example), the action will be morally permissible. Still, rational consent cannot be applied to everything. Such things as murder or slavery undermine human concepts.
Attention should also be paid to the moral rights that are applied to every person and presuppose particular duties. They are driven from our basic rights and do not coincide with the law (Wood 108). Except for that, all rights have a positive and negative conception. The first one presupposes people’s interfering and the second one objects it. For example, when someone is drowning a person can save this individual or not interfere.
To find out what is morally good, it is advantageous to consider what rights are at play and what rights would be violated under each conception. All in all, Kant does not clearly state what actions are morally acceptable. Still, he gives a framework for analyzing them, which allows deepening into the case and making a decent conclusion.
Blood for Sale
A company known as Plasma International was created by a stockbroker Sol Levin. It brought blood from addicted individuals and sold it. As several cases of hepatitis were noticed, it started to purchase blood from West African tribes under the agreement signed by a local government. The company gained much money in this way, which was considered to be indecent as British people believe that blood is to be taken and given voluntarily. Thus, the American commercialized market and British voluntary one were discussed in opposition to each other. It is believed that the absence of payment can make this system more efficient in the economic and administrative framework and improves the quality of provided blood (Shaw 80).
Actions maintained by Sol Levin and his company had morally unacceptable intentions, as the focus was put on making some profit. Levin did not care about the quality of blood he sells and initially knew that it was not decent, as it was provided by people addicted to drugs and alcohol. In this way, his actions contradicted with all users who required high-quality blood. Still, Levin paid his providers and even agreed on everything with the law, which was morally correct.
Thus, it can be said that Plasma International interacted with two parties – consumers and providers. The first one was explicitly used to get more money while the second one seemed to be satisfied. As a result, people’s welfare rights were affected negatively. Their right to be healthy was violated because the blood of poor quality leads to disease communication, and the company should have realized it. Their right to live was at risk because poor treatment could have led to death.
Moreover, those who have hepatitis often end up with a fatal outcome, and it was Plasma International’s fault that some clients got it. It is not mentioned in the case, but it seems that providers of blood were fully informed regarding the procedure and its aims. The fact that it was accepted and supported by the governmental authority proves such a view. Thus, they rationally consented to be involved even though it was a wrong action (especially for addicts who realize peculiarities of their condition). Still, those who bought the blood were likely to receive only the part of the information. Knowing that it is taken from vulnerable populations, they would not make use of it. Thus, the consumers did not rationally consent and having enough information they would not refer to Plasma International.
Consenting to Sexual Harassment
Michelle Vinson appealed to the court as she was sexually harassed by her supervisor. The woman claimed that the first year she spent working in the bank as normal. Still, the situation changed greatly then, as she was asked to have sexual relations with Sidney Taylor. According to her words, he was the one to give her a job that is why she owed him. From the very beginning, Vinson agreed on such terms and their relations lasted for three years.
They had intercourses in the bank during and after the work. Being at the court, Vinson stated that she was assaulted sometimes but could not disagree because she might have lost her job. Taylor did not agree with his colleague. He denied having sex with Vinson and stated that she appeared with this case only because of the business contradictions. At first, the court supported Taylor but the second appeal resulted in the other way.
It was stated that Vinson had to tolerate sexual demands in the discriminatory environment as her work was at risk. It was said that she could have been harassed regardless of voluntary engagement. Moreover, the discriminatory behavior of the supervisor could not have been left unnoticed (Shaw 430).
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Thus, this case involved two parties – a woman who occurred to be a victim of sexual harassment and a man who was claimed to be responsible for it. The fact that Taylor tried to hide the fact of having relations with Vinson proves that his intentions were not decent. According to the case, he wanted to make use of her as a kind of payment for providing a job. Still, it cannot be said that Vinson’s employment was initially connected with straightforwardly bad intentions because nothing happened during the first year. However, at work, Taylor created a discriminating environment, realizing that it was wrong.
The situation in which he allowed one to remain employed just if they get involved in sexual relations would contradict with everyone but not only Vinson. As the woman already received the position and worked for a year, she did not benefit from being used. Thus, victims’ liberty and welfare rights were affected even though she was fully informed and consented to have such relations. Vinson’s right to choose a person she wants to be with was violated as well as the tight to be equal to other employees and not to be involved in sexual relations with the supervisor or being harassed by one.
Face Transplant: “Highly Risky Experimentation”
Isabelle Denoire was the first person to have a face transplant. The woman was bitten by her dog so that the part of her face was missing. Professionals offered her to get an experimental treatment that is going to make her look better. They explained all possible complications and emphasized the fact that Denoire did not have many chances to receive positive health outcomes. She was aware of the possibility of a lethal end and was explained that even successfully maintained procedure cannot return her previous life. Still, Denoire agreed to have a transplant and even confirmed her decision several times. Fortunately, there were no complications.
Still, this case attracted enormous attention from the general public and professionals. They stated that it was not a necessary procedure, and any attempt to reconstruct the face could have been made. Except for that, there was a possibility of Denoire, attempting to commit suicide, which made her an inappropriate candidate for the transplantation. Moreover, the woman got an injection of donor cells, which was a second experiment (Munson 60).
According to the case description, the doctors wanted to help the woman to restore her face. They saw that she was in a really poor condition and wished to help, so their intentions seem to be rather positive. Still, the fact that they did not offer her to have a reconstruction surgery can prove that professionals were highly interested in the experiment. Thus, it cannot be claimed that the intentions were straightforwardly bad or good.
In this way, it is also not possible to state whether Denoire was used by doctors or not. The morality of their actions depends on their honesty. People claimed that professionals had no opportunity to provide the patient with all the necessary information because they did not have it. It means that Denoire’s decision did not rationally consent. However, she was informed about this, which proves that her moral rights were not violated.
Some stated that she should not have been selected as a one to take part in the experiment because of the attempt to commit suicide. However, this information was received only from her daughter’s words. The fact that their relations were complicated proves that Denoire could agree with her just to improve them. The mental condition was assessed by the doctor and one’s conclusions are to be used.
Hacking into Harvard
Applying for admission the prestigious business schools, applicants have no opportunity to get the results before a particular date. Even though individual applications can be already discussed, it is necessary to wait for the final decision for everyone. Once anonymous hacker posted instructions that provided all people who were applying for admission with the opportunity to find out what the admission decision was.
They just needed to modify the URL and then do everything as usual. In this way, some people got to know that they were accepted, some that they were not, and few saw blank pages. In nine hours after the hack, professionals got to know what has happened and corrected this error. Still, the majority of the business schools (especially Harvard that had the greatest number of applicants) refused to accept those who found out their results, claiming that their behavior was unethical and they were not willing to have such students.
Some schools decided to reconsider the cases. Later some of the applicants stated that they were not aware of the consequences and felt sorry for what they have done. Some also claimed that that was their family members who entered the site and watched the results because of the curiosity. However, the schools said that they did not expect their students to share their passwords with others, and it does not change anything. This situation attracted the public’s attention and many argued schools’ decision (Show 76).
Applicants who followed hackers’ hints wanted to find out if they were enrolled and had no bad intentions. Moreover, they had no opportunity to write or edit information and could only read what was already there, which proves that there were no negative consequences in this case. Applicants were used by hackers to break the power of the business schools and prove their vulnerability as well as the vulnerability of the software they used.
The parties were not informed about the case and did not rationally consent. If the same maxim was applied to other people there would also be a contradiction. The schools claimed that that situation with hack was like a test for them and they failed. Still, others did not have such test and the process of admission turned out to be not the same for applicants. Thus, the school’s actions seem to be not morally permissible.
One Nation under Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart is a huge retail company that operates in the market for many years already. It became extremely influential due to the nonstop growing. More than 80% of American households buy something in it at least once a year. In this way, the organization got an opportunity to control up to 35% of different markets. Being so extended and valued by the customers, Wal-Mart received a chance to reduce its prices without being afraid to lose its competitiveness.
It has enough power to make the suppliers sell their products cheaper. Still, the company’s success causes problems for others. When entering a new business district, Wal-Mart reaches decent performance soon due to its efficiency. However, other retail shops often close then. Moreover, the company pays low wages. Its employees receive 20% less than others who work in the same market but with different organizations.
Many workers do not have any health insurance, so the employee turnover rates are rather high (more than 40% per year). The fact that Wal-Mart makes its competitors close their businesses affects consumer choices as well. The representatives of the general public just do not have an opportunity to choose something else because it is not available. As a result, local businesses oppose the company’s extension while its shareholders see it as an opportunity to earn more (Show 179).
Wal-Mart extends continuously because in this way the company has an opportunity to get more profit and remain the leader in the market. Such intention cannot be considered to be bad, as it is the things commercial organizations do and the representatives of the general public are well aware of this fact. No other company would stop developing just to let its competitors improve their performance, so it is not right to expect Wal-Mart to do something like that.
The organization uses its clients, but they realize this and rationally consent. Still, using its employees, Wal-Mart violated their welfare rights. First of all, it provided them with the payment that is much lower than professionals of the same position get in another organization. Except for that, they have no health insurance, which is critical nowadays. It is rather expensive, and many workers turn out to be unable to afford it. Such actions cannot be claimed moral, as the company knows that it puts its employees in an adverse situation but is not willing to alter it. The customers know only the most general information about Wal-Mart operations, which proves that they are not fully informed and could have affected the situation.
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Munson, Ronald. Intervention and Reflection: Basic Issues in Bioethics. Boston: Cengage Learning, 2013. Print.
Shaw, William. Business ethics. Boston: Cengage Learning, 2016. Print.
Stem, Robert. Kantian Ethics: Value, Agency, and Obligation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015. Print.
Wood, Allen. Kantian Ethics. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Print.