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2 - Insights from Ethical Theory

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 December 2022

Kevin Gibson
Affiliation:
Marquette University, Wisconsin
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Summary

Chapter 2 provides a toolbox for managers for developing principles to address moral issues in business. The introductory case describes a student worker observing potentially illegal practices at work. It then examines how classic and contemporary ethical theory can undergird our intuitions and promote reasoned arguments. We start with utilitarianism, or looking to the maximum good for the maximum number, and identify challenges involved in making those calculations. Next, we look at duty-based theories that encourage good for its own sake, with the implication that a firm should benefit all stakeholders, and virtue theory which promotes notions of character and purpose. The chapter also asks whether corporate culture makes a firm sufficiently like a person to be regarded as a moral agent. The ethics of care, often championed by feminist philosophers, is presented as a contrast to classical theory and recent work in standpoint ethics is also discussed. The concluding case deals with EpiPens, potentially life-saving devices which, after a huge increase in price, led to windfall profits to the manufacturer, and invites analysis based on the theories presented.

Type
Chapter
Information
Ethics and Business
An Introduction
, pp. 34 - 68
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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