Approaches to the study of Business Ethics

05/07/2022 0 By indiafreenotes
  1. Deonotological approach:

While a “teleologist” focuses on doing what will maximize societal welfare, a “deonotologist” focuses an doing what is “right” based an his moral principles. Accordingly, some actions would be considered wrong even if the consequences of these actions were good. According to DeGeorge:

“The deonotological approach is built upon the premise that “duty” is the basic moral category and that the duty is independent of the consequences. An action is right if it has certain characteristics or is of a certain kind and wrong if it has other characteristics or is of another kind”.

This approach has more of a religious undertone. The ethical code of conduct has been dictated by the Holy Scriptures. The wrongs and rights have been defined by the word of God. This gives the concept of ethics a fixed perception. Since the word of God is considered as permanent and unchangeable, so then is the concept of ethics.

Holy Scriptures like those of the Bible, the Holy Quran, Bhagwad Gita and Guru Granth Sahib are considered to be the words of God and hence must be accepted in their entirety and without question. In similar thinking, though based upon rationality, rather than religious command, Emmanuel Kant, an eighteenth century German philosopher suggested morality as universally binding on all rational minds.

According to him, “Act as if the maxim of thy action were to become by thy will a universal law of nature.” This mode of thinking asks whether the rationale for your action is suitable to become a universal law or principle for everyone to follow. For example, “not breaking a promise” would be a good principle for everyone to follow. This means that morality would be considered unconditional and applicable to all people at all times and in all cases.

This approach suggests that moral judgments be made on the determination of intrinsic good or evil in an act which should be self evident. For example, the Ten Commandments would be considered as one of the guidelines to determine what is intrinsically good and what is intrinsically evil.

  1. Teleological approach:

Also known as consequentiality approach, it determines the moral conduct on the basis of the consequences of an activity. Whether an action is right or wrong would depend upon the judgement about the consequences of such an action. The idea is to judge the action moral if it delivers more good than harm to society. For example, with this approach, lying to save one’s life would be ethically acceptable.

Some of the philosophers supporting this view are nineteenth century philosophers John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham. They proposed that ethics and morality of an act should be judged on the basis of their ultimate utility.

An act would be considered moral if it produced more satisfaction than dissatisfaction for society. It must be understood that this satisfaction or happiness should be for the society in general and not to the people committing the act or the people who are directly involved in the act.

For example, not paying the money to someone whom you owe may make you happy but it disrupts the social system of fairness and equity thus making the society as a whole unhappy. Accordingly, this would not be considered as a Similarly, a party who breaks a contract may be happy because it is beneficial to it, but it would damage the society’s legal framework for conducting business in an orderly fashion. Hence, it would not be an ethical act.

  1. Emotive approach:

This approach is proposed by A.J. Ayer. He suggests that morals and ethics are just the personal viewpoints and “moral judgements are meaningless expressions of emotions.” The concept of morality is personal in nature and only reflects a person’s emotions.

This means that if a person feels good about an act, then in his view, it is a moral act. For example, using loopholes to cheat on income tax may be immoral from societal point of view, but the person filing the income tax returns sees nothing wrong with it.

Similarly, not joining the army in time of war may be unethical and unpatriotic from the point of view of the society and the country, but the person concerned may consider war as immoral in itself. According to this approach, the whole idea about morality hinges on the personal view point.

An extension of Emotive theory puts focus an the integrity of the person. While the person is looking for his own “long term” benefit, he must have a “virtue ethics perspective” which primarily considers the person’s character, motivations and intentions.

Character, motivations and intentions must be consistent with the principles accepted by society as ethical. The advantage of this approach is that it allows the ethical decision maker to rely on relevant community standards, “without going through the complex process of trying to decide what is right in every situation using deontological or teleological approaches.”

  1. Justice approach:

The justice view of moral behaviour is based on the belief that ethical decisions do not discriminate people on the basis of any types of preferences, but treat all people fairly, equitably and impartially, according to established guiding rules and standards. All mankind is created equal and discriminating against any one on the basis of race, gender, religion, nationality or any such criteria would be considered unethical.

From organizational point of view, all policies and rules should be fairly administered. For example, a senior executive and an assembly worker should get the same treatment for the same issue, such as a charge of sexual harassment.

  1. Moral-rights approach:

This approach views behaviour as respecting and protecting fundamental human rights, equal treatment under law and so on. Some of these rights are set forth in documents such as Bill of Rights in America and U.N. Declaration of Human Rights. From ethical point of view, people expect that their health and safety is not endangered by unsafe products.

They have a right not to be intentionally deceived on matters which should be truthfully disclosed to them. Citizens have a fundamental right to privacy and violation of such privacy would not be morally justifiable.