There are many Moral Principles of Business Ethics that people might use to guide their decisions. The one commonality that seems to override all differences is the belief that the members of a society bear some responsibility for the well – being of other members. From a systems point of view in Moral Principles of Business Ethics, we can rationalize it by noting that systems deal with relationships and processes.
As a member of a system, it is logical to suggest that to look out for oneself means to look out for one’s relationships, both within the business and from a business perspective, within the larger society of which the business itself is a part.
This idea is captured in the Bible’s Golden Rule: ‘’Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’’. This is not an idealistic statement that we should try to achieve in Moral Principles of Business Ethics. We are all members of a system where relationships and interdependencies are primary defining characteristics. The Golden Rule simply reminds us that we treat others as we would like to be treated, be that for good or ill. What we do to others provides them with information they need to guide their relationship with us in the future.
If businesspeople cheat customers, they are saying that their relationship with customers is based on cheating. This is the information that customers will need to deal with these businesspeople in the future. In others words, a person who cheats invites cheating in return. Conversely, people who go out of their way to be fair are likewise inviting fairness in return. We teach others how we wish to be treated by how we treat them. The Golden Rule provides a sound rationale for taking ethical behavior seriously. This is because behaving ethically has positive personal and business consequences.
There are three principles or approaches in Moral Principles of Business Ethics that can help us gain a better sense of what is fair and ethical. These are Utilitarian, Moral Rights and Justice Approaches. Each approach has strengths and weaknesses and businesspeople can combine these ideas to help them make better ethical decisions. Business Training in Kenya has more information.
This approach in Moral Principles of Business Ethics emphasizes the importance of preserving the rights and liberties of an individual. Under this approach, even if a decision accomplishes the greatest good for the greatest number of people, it is unethical if it denies an individual his or her rights, e.g. right to safety, right to freedom of conscience, right to own private property, right to due process, etc. These rights are briefly explained below:
- Right to life and safety- to not to have our lives and safety unknowingly endangered.
- Right to Freedom of Conscience- to refuse to carry out orders that contradict our moral or religious beliefs.
- Right to Free Consent- to be treated as we knowingly and freely consent to be treated.
- Right to privacy- to control access to and use of information about our private lives.
- Right to Truthfulness- to not be intentionally deceived about matters about which we have a right to know.
- Right to Free Speech- to speak openly and truthfully about the ethics or legality of the actions of others.
- Right to Due process- to an impartial hearing and fair treatment when accused.
- Right to Own Private Property- to acquire, own, use and dispose of property.
Under the moral rights approach in Moral Principles of Business Ethics, even if a decision accomplishes the greatest good for the greatest number of people, it is unethical if it denies an individual any of these rights.
The shortcoming of the moral rights approach in Moral Principles of Business Ethics is that it can lead to self- serving behavior, particularly if people act as though they have the right to do anything they want. It can also lead to gridlock when people’s rights stand in the way of progress for society.
Cooperative social actions require people to suppress their own desires at times so as to reach a mutually acceptable decision. Thinking of businesses and societies in terms of systems helps people think about the balance between individual and societal rights.
Utilitarian Approach in Moral Principles of Business Ethics
Grounded in the philosophies of Jeremy Bentham and J.s. Mill, the utilitarian approach in Moral Principles of Business Ethics suggests that managers should strive to provide the greatest degree of benefits (or utility) for the largest number of people for the least costs. Another way of saying this in Moral Principles of Business Ethics is that we must recognize and weigh the costs versus benefits of our actions. The utilitarian approach recognizes that some harm or costs will always result from taking any particular action. However, these costs are acceptable as long as we seek to minimize them and deliver the greatest good for the most people, not just a privileged few. Rules such as ‘’never tell a lie’’ or ‘’always honor a contract’’ will help businesspeople accomplish the greatest good for the greatest number and at the lowest cost if everyone acts in accordance with such rules.
In Moral Principles of Business Ethics, utilitarianism has a potential problem. It can encourage people to focus on the potential benefits to them and assume that a cost, even if it means exploiting another person, is worth those benefits. This in Moral Principles of Business Ethics is another way of saying that the ends justify the means. To help businesspeople decide where to draw the line on utilitarian approach, they should consider an approach that emphasizes the moral rights of individuals.
Justice Approach in Moral Principles of Business Ethics
The justice approach in Moral Principles of Business Ethics emphasizes the equitable treatment of people and relies on concepts of equity, fairness and impartiality. The justice approach seeks to allocate resources and costs fairly. Procedural justice in Moral Principles of Business Ethics requires that managers clearly state and consistently administer the rules and established procedures of the organization and not bend the rules to serve their own interests, or to show favoritism.
For example, disciplinary actions should be administered impartially. Distributive justice requires that managers not be arbitrary and use only relevant characteristics or evidence to determine how to treat people. Thus, we should not judge people on such characteristics as race, gender, religious preferences, ethnicity or other irrelevant characteristics, but only on the actual facts of a situation entailed in Moral Principles of Business Ethics.
Conclusion on Moral Principles of Business Ethics
The justice approach embodies the democratic principle and protects the interest of those who might otherwise lack power. This does not, however, address the issue of individual rights which may be denied some people in the interest of justice. It can also create a sense of entitlement and reduce risk taking, which may reduce overall benefits and increase costs to society. These approaches define the Moral Principles of Business Ethics.