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Utilitarian Principles in Business Ethics Essay

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Updated: Jun 13th, 2020

Usefulness of Utilitarian Ethical Principles in Solving Ethical Issues

Utilitarianism is a philosophical approach that is very often applied to ethics. As an ethical theory, it was supported by the works of John Stewart Mill and Jeremy Bentham. Generally speaking, utilitarian philosophy teaches that the consequences of actions are always of great importance and that justice and beneficence should be the guiding principles while making decisions (Hales 1608).

Utilitarian ethical principles are broadly used in public relations and solving ethical issues even when it comes to business settings. When speaking of business matters, ethical matters may come up in the case of treating somebody differently in the working place or during the working process whether based on age, race or gender. Such behavior may be considered as discrimination. It is undoubtedly unethical but can be viewed from the utilitarian perspective.

Bearing in mind that “utilitarianism asks us to look beyond self-interest to consider impartially the interests of all persons affected by our actions” (Velasquez et al. par. 10) and that happiness of the majority is more important than the happiness of the one if treating somebody differently is beneficial to the others, it may be acceptable from the utilitarian perspective. The only problem with this approach is that not everyone is happy while using it, so there are always those who will be upset, but the majority of the team is happy.

Importance of Freedom of Choice from an Ethical Perspective

Viktor Frankl (1905–1995) once said:

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s way. (Frankl 86)

To my mind, and I completely agree with Frankl’s opinion, it is significant that everyone should have the freedom to choose one’s way even though it is not always possible. For example, when speaking of business matters and cooperation in the working place, sometimes employees are forced to carry out the edicts from their bosses no matter what their opinion is. Nevertheless, such situations occur, and employers might not agree with the decisions of those on the high, they are always free to choose their attitude to the situation. It is what matters from the ethical perspective. I do believe that the freedom to choose one’s attitude has an impact on business success because it affects the atmosphere in the team and the atmosphere, from my point of view, is what influences the outcome of the business activities.

Efficacy of Social Contract Theory in Describing Issues Related to Business Ethics

Social contract theory teaches that “persons’ moral and/or political obligations are dependent upon a contract or agreement among them to form the society in which they live” (Friend par. 1). The efficacy of social contract theory cannot be underestimated when it comes to discussing ethical issues. That means that everyone should remember that we all live in a society and have to keep to particular rules that it functions under. So, this is the contract theory that helps us understand why we should adhere to the rules. It teaches us that sticking to a so-called social contract we can live in peace and safety and make the world better.

When it comes to business ethics, one should remember that living following social contract very often limits the freedoms and one should tame his sights low, but instead he has a chance to live in civil liberty and social harmony (Rousseau 27-28). That means that conducting business should be the same as living in a society, i.e. one should not do whatever he wants but scale back his ambitions and adhere to the social contract thus creating an atmosphere of credibility and trust in a team that would positively affect business performance.

Works Cited

Frankl, Victor E. Man’s Search for Meaning. New York, NY: Simon&Schuster. 1984. Print.

Friend, Celeste. Social Contract Theory. n.d. Web.

Hales, Robert E. The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychiatry. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. 2008. Print.

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. The Social Contract. New York, NY: Cosimo. 2008. Print.

Velasquez, Manuel, Claire Andre, Thomas S.J. Shanks and Michael J. Meyer. . 2014. Web.

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