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Utilitarianism, Kantianism, Virtue Ethics, Egoism Essay

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Updated: Sep 7th, 2020

Ethical theories are widely used to dictate the behaviours of human beings, societies, and business corporations. Such models offer useful ideas that can empower people whenever they encounter conflicting situations. This essay begins by introducing the concepts of morality and ethics. The paper gives a detailed analysis of utilitarianism, kantianism, virtue ethics, and egoism. The issues surrounding business practices and environmental ethics are also discussed.

Quote: The ‘managers of a corporation must take responsibility to fulfil their duties to their stockholders and to the public’ (Valentzas & Broni 2010, p. 804).

The above quotation summarizes the obligations and summaries of businesses that want to remain relevant in their respective industries. The whole idea of business ethics is founded on the principles of morality. Ethics and morality are meaningful concepts used interchangeably to dictate the behaviours of human beings (Rachels & Rachels 2010). However, each of these concepts has a unique meaning. The concepts can be used to promote the welfare of every society.

Ethics refers to the rules provided to dictate the behaviour of every individual (Rachels & Rachels, 2010). Morality is ‘derived from the word moral and refers to people’s principles regarding wrong and right’ (Rachels & Rachels 2010, p. 18). These concepts have been widely studied in order to dictate the behaviours, values, and principles embraced in different societies.

Several ethical and moral theories have been studied in class. The first one is known as utilitarianism. Postulated by John Stuart Mill, utilitarianism theory argues that ‘the best moral action is the one that has the potential to maximize utility’ (Rachels & Rachels 2010, p. 21). According to this normative theory, the utility can be described as anything that is related to the wellbeing of every sentient entity. The theory promotes positive actions that have the potential to produce happiness for all (Rachels & Rachels 2010).

Immanuel Kant was a great ethicist and philosopher who proposed various ethical notions. Such ethical theories ‘are deontological in nature and revolve around human duty’ (Rachels & Rachels 2010, p. 37). Kantianism, therefore, explains how maxims (or principles) guide human actions. The categorical imperative is used to describe the concept of rationality. This imperative is used to moderate a given action in order to determine if it is bad or good. According to Kant, rationality is ‘the ultimate good since all people are rational in nature’ (Rachels & Rachels 2010, p. 52).

This philosophical theory focuses on the concept of the self. Egoism is founded on the argument that one’s self is the source of inspiration (Rachels & Rachels 2010). People’s actions are, therefore intended to achieve personal goals. This ethical theory focuses on a person’s character. According to the model, an individual’s character is what guides ethical thinking. This means that ‘the existence of rules about the targeted acts might not result in ethical thinking’ (Lefkowitz 2006, p. 247).

The above four ethical theories have been widely used to dictate various behaviours and actions. The agreeable fact is that the models have their unique weaknesses and advantages. However, utilitarianism happens to be a powerful and applicable ethical theory that speaks to me. The theory focuses on the targeted goals in order to determine what should be treated as right or wrong (Rachels & Rachels 2010). The theory encourages people to promote the best practices and behaviours that will support the utility principle. This practice can make it easier for more societies to achieve their potentials and goals.

I have applied this theory to various personal situations. For example, I have been thinking deeply about the problem of pollution. This issue has been a major source of controversy in many societies. Utilitarianism made it easier for me to come up with the best ideas. The theory promotes happiness for the greatest number of citizens (Velentzas & Broni 2010). That being the case, the model encourages people and companies to avoid the malpractice because it fails to fulfil the utility principle. I will always use this theory to address the issues and situations affecting my life.

Business ethics is ‘a field that examines the moral and ethical principles associated with the business environment’ (Velentzas & Broni 2010, p. 796). The theory is applicable in every aspect of corporate conduct. It is also essential towards analyzing and monitoring the conduct of business people and organizations. This field is important because it encourages responsible firms to focus on the best practices that can deliver positive results. The model also makes it possible to embrace the best values and practices that can address the needs of different stakeholders. This theory also explains why many companies promoting various business misbehaviours become insignificant (Velentzas & Broni, 2010).

Businesses cannot operate without interfering with the sustainability of the natural environment (Velentzas & Broni 2010). Environmental ethics, therefore ‘addresses corporations’ ability and responsibility to protect the surrounding environments in which they operate’ (Lefkowitz 2006, p. 249).

This field has led to new regulations and requirements. Such laws ensure more companies take care of their immediate environments. As well, the field encourages societies to report the damages associated with various business practices. This sub-field of business ethics focuses on the best actions that can safeguard the natural environment. Companies that fail to maintain the integrity of the natural environment encounter numerous lawsuits and litigations (Velentzas & Broni 2010). Such lawsuits can affect their brand images and eventually make them less profitable. On the other hand, companies embracing the best practices will maximize their returns and attract more customers.

Many companies are known to engage in different industrial malpractices. A good example is the Coca Cola Company. This firm has been associated with various unethical practices in different parts across the globe. For instance, Coca Cola has been contaminating the ground with its wastewater (Sawayda, Sample & Boostrum 2014). This malpractice has led to pollution and shortage of clean drinking water in Varanasi City (Sawayda et al. 2014). Such malpractices can affect the performance of giant corporations such as Coca Cola. Corporations should, therefore, focus on the best business practices. The approach will make more companies ethical and successful.

In conclusion, ethics and morality are powerful concepts that dictate the success of many societies. Individuals, societies, and corporations can use these concepts to design their moral principles. Such principles will make it easier for more individuals and societies to achieve their goals (Lefkowitz 2006).

The four theories discussed in this paper also offer powerful ideas that can promote the best behaviours. Business organizations should also act in accordance with various ethical principles. The case study of Coca Cola shows clearly that companies that do not embrace the above ethical values will encounter numerous challenges. These discussions are, therefore, meaningful because they dictate the behaviours, practices, and ideas that govern every aspect of society. People should, therefore, embrace these theoretical ideas in order to behave ethically.

List of References

Lefkowitz, J 2006, ‘The constancy of ethics amidst the changing world of work’, Human Resource Management Review, vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 245-268.

Rachels, J & Rachels, S 2010, The Right Thing to Do: Basic Readings in Moral Philosophy, McGraw Hill, New York.

Sawayda, J, Sample, K & Boostrum, R 2014,The Coca-Cola Company Struggles with Ethical Crises’, Part 2 Cases, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 178-188.

Velentzas, J & Broni, G 2010, ‘Ethical dimensions in the conduct of business: business ethics, corporate social responsibility and the law: The ‘ethics in business’ as a sense of business ethics’, International Conference on Applied Economics, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 795-819.

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