Presentation on theme: "IP: Business Ethics Organising Principles for an Ethical Framework."— Presentation transcript:
IP: Business Ethics Organising Principles for an Ethical Framework
What is Ethics? Some classic answers Ethics is the way things are done around here.Ethics is the way things are done around here.Aristotle Ethics is treating other people as you would be treated.Ethics is treating other people as you would be treated. Confucius, St Paul, Kant Ethics is doing whatever brings the best results.Ethics is doing whatever brings the best results. Bentham, Mill, Singer Ethics is becoming the right kind of person - acquiring the virtues.Ethics is becoming the right kind of person - acquiring the virtues. Aristotle, MacIntyre
Objections to business ethics Ethics is subjective/relative. If it’s legal, it’s ethical - at least for corporations. Ethics is about following rules. If you know the rules, that’s all you need to know. I don’t give a damn about ethics.
Is Ethics subjective and relative? Everyone disagrees about ethics. Who is to say what is right? Ethics is relative to your culture, so it is offensive to impose your values on to someone else. Clearly we do differ, but do we not also share values?
A thought experiment Think of someone who is an ethical example to you and of the core ethical values they embody. One word only (no hyphens) Serious (not punctual or polite) Non-religious (not pious or prayerful) Non-legal (not law-abiding)
Our guess about your answers HonestyIntegrityFairnessCompassion
Although history has long forgotten them, Lambini & Sons are generally credited with the Sistine Chapel floor.
Law and ethics: a model Law is the floor, ethics the ceiling. Ethics is a higher standard, but without law is unlikely to be effective. Ethics and law are complementary: they cannot substitute for each other.
Isn’t ethics just about following rules? Rules are essential because they allow for predictability, the definition of roles and responsibilities, and the definition of boundaries. But Human conduct cannot be reduced to rules: rules are derived from conduct. Rules date. Rules cannot cover all contingencies. Rules must be tempered by judgment: there can be many ways to get things wrong and more than one way to get them right.
Rules and standards Rules are one way of proclaiming standards. Standards are important for consistency, but they are a minimum. Businesses and managers must have standards, but only as a minimum: they should aim higher, like an archer.
Ethical defeat Almost no one accepts that there is nothing ethical to be said for them, even if they have committed horrible offences. Tale of a New York drug dealer. Stephen Cohen has called this resistance to ethical defeat.
Ethics are trumps Consider these reasons for accepting a bribe. You would just be doing your job - only more quickly. You wouldn’t be hurting anyone - you would be helping someone. You and your family would be better off. If you didn’t do it someone else would. You deserve better pay anyway. And this reason for rejecting a bribe. It’s unethical.
Ethics presents the most serious kinds of reason That is why we are reluctant to ‘impose’ our views on others and vice-versa. People become heated about ethical issues because they are serious. We can’t impose our views, but we can argue hard and seriously for them. Why wouldn’t we if they are truly important?
An ethical opinion: Is not just self-interested Has regard for others Could apply to anybody - is reversible Takes account of context Overrides other considerations Has to be ‘lived with’.
What is involved in ethical justification? Being accountable in terms of –the law –professional codes –employer’s values statements –common morality –informed ethical judgment (conscience)
Trust Basic to humanity - we need to trust and be trusted. Trust builds trust. Basic to relationships - friendships of pleasure, utility and affinity. Allows confidence and predictability. Reduces stress. Lowers transaction costs and increases productivity. Encourages risk-taking; discourages risk-aversion.
Underwriting trust: the Ring of Gyges Gyges was a shepherd in Lydia who discovered a magic ring which made him invisible. With this ring, he was able to seduce the queen, murder the king and take his kingdom. Who would not do forbidden things if one could get away with them? (Plato, Republic)
What the bagel man found out Payment rates were higher when he was the known provider. Care or surveillance? An open basket is a temptation. A money box is safer. People who steal bagels don’t steal the money boxes - don’t perceive taking bagels as theft? Law firms and telecoms have notable failings and executives seem to be the worst offenders! Firms with high morale seem to be more honest. Smaller firms are more trustworthy - the shame factor?
Bagel behaviour An office with low paying staff rarely becomes an honest payer, and vice versa. Hence Paul F. believes that honest people remain honest, and cheaters will cheat regardless of the circumstance. Against Glaucon (Plato’s brother) who tells the tale of Gyges, Paul F. knows that people are honest 89% of the time. The bagels prove it.
A simple framework Do no evil. Pursue goods reasonably.Do no evil. Pursue goods reasonably. Prevent evil. Don’t be an innocent by- stander.Prevent evil. Don’t be an innocent by- stander. Remove evil.Remove evil. Do good. Be excellent.Do good. Be excellent. William Frankena
What is ethics? The liberal might answer: “Ethics is the responsible use of freedom.” Surely this is correct. Is not misconduct the irresponsible use of freedom, say, to damage others and look after ourselves? But this definition is too limited: it does not commit us to anything in particular. What goods matter to us ethically?
Can we name these goods? John Finnis has nominated the following: Life - health, security Friendship - friends, community Freedom - personal, political, economic Knowledge - many forms Aesthetics - art, nature Play - spontaneous, organised Belief systems - like religion Trust
Ethics and impartiality The house next door is on fire. Your children are in the house. You rush into the fire to rescue them. Other children are in the house too. Does ethics require you to rescue the children impartially, i.e. without special regard for saving your own children?
Do we not properly favour those whom we recognise? Peter Singer argued that favouring kin was a survival device of evolutionary biology that fairness and justice should now supercede. But what of loyalty, love, affection and intimate knowledge of the good in those we know? These values relate less to ‘favouring’ than to the ethics of care.
What principles should steer ethical judgment? Four accounts: 1. Acts are intrinsically right or wrong. Ethical requirements are expressed in duties – deontology (Kant) 2. Right and wrong means producing a surplus of good over evil consequences - consequentialism, e.g. ‘utilitarianism’ (Mill) 3. The ethics of care. 4. Virtue and character. Human endowments can be improved by the acquisition of virtues that can be learned.
Intentions are basic to responsibility Think of Bratman’s examples. If we intend to kill, it doesn’t matter if we actively kill or passively let die. Intention changes the nature of acts. Intention introduces responsibility
Results are integral to ethics Ethics is about consequences even if it is not only about consequences. If there were no significance to consequences, ethics would matter little. It is because ethics guides conduct that it matters. It is also because of this that ethics links with economics.
Intentions and Causality Can we blow up a cave to save ourselves at the expense of another?Can we blow up a cave to save ourselves at the expense of another? Bratman says that a principled view would forbid this.Bratman says that a principled view would forbid this. But: the death of the person is not the means to our deliverance. It is a foreseen but unintended consequence.But: the death of the person is not the means to our deliverance. It is a foreseen but unintended consequence.
A business example Can a firm take over a smaller company knowing that this will cause people to lose their jobs and possibly never work again? Can one corporation take over another in order to make money from its assets? Is this analogous to killing and letting die? Is a corporation obliged to do more than avoiding evil?
Management Ethics Management excellence requires human virtues. All social virtues built on friendship, but professional virtues include: –High practice standards –Trustworthiness and honesty –Integrity –Compassion
Abbreviated Laura nash on Ethical decision making. Cf. Kidder Note the presence of principle, outcomes and care. 1.Define the problem.Would it look this way if you stood on the other side of the fence? 2.To whom and to what do you give your loyalty? 3. What is your intention in making this decision? 4.How does this intention compare with the probable results? Who could be injured? Are you confident that your will look good in the long term? 5.Can you discuss the problem with the affected parties before you make your decision? 6.Could you disclose without qualm your decision or action to your boss, your CEO, your family, society as a whole?