Chapter Five: Ethics

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Chapter Five: Ethics

Definition – What are Ethics?

Sources – Where do Ethics Come from?

Categories – What types of ethical dilemmas do we face?

Challenges and Solutions – How should we process ethical challenges and solve these challenges with the least amount of damage.

E.g. Your significant other asks “How do I look?” Imagine your significant other does not look good. We are told that being truthful is good, but being hurtful is not. Move this to a business context – you want to be truthful, but the damage caused by being truthful needs to be mitigated, so how does one do that when facing a serious ethical dilemma?

Chapter Five: Ethics

Ethics = Morals.

So does unethical mean immoral?

So does legal mean ethical mean moral?

Whose Morals?

And does situational context matter?

E.g. A cashier gives you change back, but its wrong and too much money. You should give the money back right? What if you are starving? What if your kids are starving?

What if its at a gas station and the owner is Marathon?

What if the owner is a mom and pop with one location?

Chapter Five: Ethics

Sources of Ethics

Positive Law

Essentially: If its legal, then its ethical.


Name legal acts that are unethical – use historical examples if you must?

Biggest Example: We fought a war over it.

Name illegal acts that are ethical – use historical examples if you must?

“… there is a big difference between what we have the right to do and what is right.” Justice Potter Stewart.

Castle Doctrine.

Chapter Five: Ethics

Sources of Ethics

Normative Standards

Society sets expectations.

What if 50% of society believes that something is ok, and the other 50% believe that it is not ok? Can both be right?

Think Marijuana?

Think proper etiquette? Why is etiquette relevant to ethics? Is it?

Natural Law

Certain rights and values are inherent by virtue of our existence and should be easily identifiable through reason.

No man should be enslaved. “All men are created equal…” Where did we read that?

What about animals? Hmmmn.


Chapter Five: Ethics

Sources of Ethics

Religion and Family (often intertwined)

Read Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, 573 U.S. ____ (2014). Can the government impose a law that directly violates an organization’s or persons religious beliefs. Contraception?

Rastas? Some call it the “weed”.

Muslim Dress: Hajib?

Chapter Five: Ethics

Sources of Ethics

Business Ethics: eBay Domestic Holdings, Inc. v. Newmark, 16 A.3d 1, 60-61 (Del. Ch. 2010) …. Craigslist anyone.

What is at issue in this case?

“….promote the value of the corporation for the benefit of its shareholders….”

Who wins and why?

Milton Friedman view:

Chapter Five: Ethics

You are CEO. You need to create a sustainable business and the economy is in the tank. You need to borrow money for the company cash flow. Two choices:

Fire 1000 employees

Demand that everyone take a 20% pay cut for one year

Which decisions do you make and why?

Alternatives within the construct. Is there something you can do to be creative to make the decision easier?

Chapter Five: Ethics

Ethical Dilemma Categories


Lying or giving false impressions

Conflicts of interest, nepotism

Bribes or buying influence (Congress)

Circumventing or using the law to gain an unfair advantage

What is an inversion?

Self indulgence

Profit seeking behavior at all costs

Chapter Five: Ethics

Ethica Dilemma Excuses

Everybody does it. Hear this one a lot with 17 year old sons.

Someone else is going to do it.

We’ve been doing it this way for years. (Congress)

Lawyer said it was fine.

Who is hurt?

System isn’t fair?

Following orders – what if your livelihood is on the line?

Living in a “gray” world.

Chapter Five: Ethics

Due Diligence – Finding a solution.

Discover facts;

Identify key facts or other information that might be vital to your decision making process – facts are not always readily available (Ray Rice NFL example);

Where appropriate, reach out to persons involved in the dilemma Stakeholders?

Solutions? Is there an easy and readily available solution; if not, then adopt an ethical decision making model (e.g. Golden Rule) to help resolve the matter;

Identify consequences of picking a specific solution; Least amount of harm, most benefit?

Legal input.

Apply solution theories to make final determination; and,

Assess outcomes.

Chapter Five: Ethics

Due Diligence – Finding a solution.

Solution Theories

Consequentialism – Do the ends justify the means?

Utilitarian Model – Most good and least harm? Is that always easy to determine?

Egoist – Self interest, how does the decision impact me? Greatest amount of personal good. Hobbes and Rand – Who is John Gualt?

Common Good – Enhance the community – Rousseau

Non-Consequentialist – Intent, what is the intent of the decision maker?

Duty-Based Approach – Categorical imperative.

If one cannot state in the affirmative a positive maxim, then the act is bad.

One should always kill… no

One should always steal…no

Conversely, one should always save a baby…yes

Rights-Based Approach – Kant

Do unto others….

Fairness Approach

Free and rational people will adopt an approach that is balanced and fair

Divine Command Approach

Follow God’s will.

Chapter Five: Ethics

Due Diligence – Finding a solution.

Solution Theories – Cont’d

Agent Centered – Based on the individual ethics of an action and not the morality of it. “I dropped the atom bomb to end the war.”

The Virtue Approach – Virtue ethics is wholly concerned with the entirety of a person’s life, and thus values experience, education and training in a person’s history.

The Feminist Approach – Care and human life.