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This chapter ties together several moral strands under the notion of justice, where equals should be treated equally. It opens by pointing out certain facts, such as that the most likely predictor of success is parental wealth, that women earn only 86 percent of men’s income for comparable jobs, and that there are significant racial disparities at higher levels of management. The concepts of equity (merit), equality, and need are examined, as the basis for allocating resources and rewards. Libertarian views, which hold personal choice as the overriding principle, are explained and contrasted with egalitarianism which favors equal opportunities for all. Discrimination is defined in terms of power relations, and subsequently gender and racial discrimination is examined in detail, including the implications of implicit bias. Recent work in intersectionality, where individuals identify with multiple groups, is discussed as are Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) initiatives. Examples from Starbucks show the promise and difficulties in promoting equality in the workplace. The final case covers discrepancies in insurance rates and the moral jeopardy of categorizing aggregated data into groups.
Autonomy is the concept of self-rule, or the ability to control our personal choices. This chapter starts with a discussion of the dubious practice of selling herbal weight-loss products and asks whether regulations should try to protect consumers from making bad choices or if buyers should be solely in control of their own decisions. Advertising can be a challenge to autonomy, especially if it misleads or manipulates by triggering unreflective psychological dynamics, and capitalism relies on consumers being informed and able to make voluntary choices. The challenges posed by internet commerce are also discussed. The morality of workplace restrictions on individuals is examined, as well as the challenges of intrusive psychological testing and reduced barriers between professional and private lives. Whistleblowing is also introduced as emblematic of the tension between individual values and loyalty to a company. The concluding case examines the Wells Fargo banking scandal where customers were unaware of accounts opened in their name and the firm coerced employees to act against their best moral judgment.
This overview chapter introduces philosophical tools that can be used to aid managers in making decisions in situations which go beyond simple cost/benefit analyses. Value terms such as right, wrong, fair, justice, beneficence, responsibility, eco-consciousness, and discrimination are discussed and illustrated using real-world examples. Starting with the world’s worst industrial disaster in Bhopal, India and the contemporary aftermath, it examines the complexities such situations present and assesses the usefulness of creating a theoretical framework that can lead to principled and defensible policies and actions. The challenges of exclusive self-interest and ethical relativism are examined, where morality simply echoes personal preference. Immediate profit maximization is compared to a more subtle long-term and more encompassing stakeholder approach. Reliance on the law is shown to be an insufficient ethical guide, while principle-based approaches that can be applied across a wide range of cases are more successful in working out what we should do in novel and difficult situations.
Beneficence is the act of doing good, while benevolence is being willing to do good. Walmart is cited as a case where, despite its founder’s belief that businesses do sufficient good simply by fueling wealth through commerce and employment, the company is nevertheless highly involved in community projects. Corporate philanthropy may be used strategically to increase future profits, while many corporations see themselves as morally responsible for stakeholders – employees, communities, consumers, and the wider environment – without requiring a clear return on investment. Corporate intervention is discussed historically in terms of apartheid, where some companies applied pressure for social change whereas others felt firms should abide by local norms despite violating human rights. Corporate intervention in the political affairs of Central America are discussed, as well as businesses that supply biased educational materials. The final case describes the sponsorship of an artistic production that becomes politically embroiled and asks what an appropriate level of corporate involvement in the community should be.
Responsibility is a key moral concept but it is often used ambiguously, such as a firm being considered a responsible part of the community, having corporate social responsibility, or being responsible for harms. This chapter provides a clear framework that distinguishes between the different ways the term is used and shows how it can be applied in practical terms. It starts with an exposition of the Volkswagen diesel scandal to illustrate the various meanings of the term, contrasting notions of legal liability from moral wrongs. The relationship of cause, blame, and fault to moral responsibility is evaluated. It is noted that people may adopt institutional values when working in a role, and whether that approach remains valid even when someone else takes responsibility. The nature of company and institutional codes and compliance issues are discussed, and positive acts are contrasted to deliberate avoidance. The doctrine of double effect is evaluated, where an outcome is foreseeable but unintended. The concluding case deals with the tragic loss of Boeing 737 MAX airplanes and the attempt to shift blame from the company to individuals, especially foreign pilots.
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.
Business impacts the world we live in by affecting our environment, living creatures, and our heritage. Often these costs are externalized onto remote populations or future generations. This chapter begins with an emblematic case about rare earth minerals that are vital to modern technology but which, despite “green” initiatives, are also difficult to refine or recycle, and therefore create pollution. The term “sustainability” is closely analyzed, as it conflates the senses of “maintaining our current production and consumption levels” with “maintaining resources in the face of rising prosperity and consequent depletion,” each with widely divergent implications. Arguments promoting intrinsic value of the biosphere are assessed, as are conservation claims about the broad “web of being” and potential climate change. Monetization, the technique that asks hypothetical questions to assess environmental preferences, is presented and critiqued. Triple bottom line accounting is outlined, and the amount of waste we produce is also discussed. The final case looks at the potential effects of large-scale industrial farming and its implications for the environment and the global food chain.
In this chapter, a clear outline is presented for analyzing confusing or contentious rights issues in business dealings. The case of perilous shipbreaking practices is used to invite intuitions about the minimal rights and entitlements that are owed to workers. Positive rights, where actions must be taken, are distinguished from negative ones, where a firm may not interfere with preexisting rights. Human rights are further contrasted to privileges, which come about through a legal framework. Critically, privileges are liable to revocation at any time by legislation, whereas human rights exist outside the legal sphere. Actions by oil firms in the Niger Delta are discussed as examples of different attitudes to the rights of indigenous peoples. Whether sweatshops conditions are ever voluntary or acceptable is also examined. It is noted that some religious views emphasize the common good rather than individual welfare, and rights claims often reflect a Western perspective where personal choice is paramount. Subsequently, the question is asked whether nonhumans or the environment might be rights-holders. The concluding case assesses the notion of privacy and whether it is a human right or simply a legal construct in the internet age.
This chapter identifies the factors likely to influence employees, managers, and firms given that businesses operate within the context of capitalism. Several common presuppositions about capitalism are discussed – consumers know best, industry and innovation will be rewarded, growth should be encouraged, no centralized distribution, and individual self-interest always leads to mutual benefit. The term “market morality” is introduced as a background for factors such as spending on nonrecyclable goods or a focus on price rather than employee conditions where the goods are made, providing a means to identify consumer hypocrisy and corporate greenwashing. The implications of market failures such as oligopolies are noted, and questions about proper use of government regulation are raised. Moral concerns about the globalization of supply chains and varying normative standards around the world are also discussed, as well as the balance between World Trade Organization standards and national sovereignty. The fact that currencies and credit rely on the moral principle of trust is considered. The final case deals with the ethical concerns that are raised when international companies promote GMO crops to poorer countries.
This updated introduction to business ethics offers a clear and accessible framework for understanding the important and complex ethical issues facing business in the contemporary world. Kevin Gibson explains ethical concepts in plain language, showing how terms such as responsibility, autonomy, justice, equality, rights, and beneficence are central to the ways in which business is and should be conducted. He provides numerous examples and discusses cases including VW, Wells Fargo, the Boeing 737 Max, and the exploitation of rare earth minerals, and he pays special attention to recent and emerging issues such as the gig economy, internet commerce, racial and gender justice, and concerns about the impact of business on global climate change. His lively and comprehensive book will give readers the tools to identify and understand a range of problematic ethical issues that affect us all.
Field experiments were conducted in 2017 and 2018 at two locations in Indiana to evaluate the influence of cover crop species, termination timing, and herbicide treatment on winter and summer annual weed suppression and corn yield. Cereal rye and canola cover crops were terminated early or late (2 wk before or after corn planting) with a glyphosate- or glufosinate-based herbicide program. Canola and cereal rye reduced total weed biomass collected at termination by up to 74% and 91%, in comparison to fallow, respectively. Canola reduced horseweed density by up to 56% at termination and 57% at POST application compared to fallow. Cereal rye reduced horseweed density by up to 59% at termination and 87% at POST application compared to fallow. Canola did not reduce giant ragweed density at termination in comparison to fallow. Cereal rye reduced giant ragweed density by up to 66% at termination and 62% at POST application. Termination timing had little to no effect on weed biomass and density reduction in comparison to the effect of cover crop species. Cereal rye reduced corn grain yield at both locations in comparison to fallow, especially for the late-termination timing. Corn grain yield reduction up to 49% (4,770 kg ha–1) was recorded for cereal rye terminated late in comparison to fallow terminated late. Canola did not reduce corn grain yield in comparison to fallow within termination timing; however, late-terminated canola reduced corn grain yield by up to 21% (2,980 kg ha–1) in comparison to early-terminated fallow. Cereal rye can suppress giant ragweed emergence, whereas canola is not as effective at suppressing large-seeded broadleaves such as giant ragweed. These results also indicate that early-terminated cover crops can often result in higher corn grain yields than late-terminated cover crops in an integrated weed management program.
Conservation resources are limited, yet an increasing number of species are under threat. Assessing species for their conservation needs is, therefore, a vital first step in identifying and prioritizing species for both ex situ and in situ conservation actions. Using a transparent, logical and objective method, the Conservation Needs Assessment process developed by Amphibian Ark uses current knowledge of species in the wild to determine those with the most pressing conservation needs, and provides a foundation for the development of holistic conservation action plans that combine in situ and ex situ actions as appropriate. These assessments allow us to maximize the impact of limited conservation resources by identifying which measures could best serve those species requiring help. The Conservation Needs Assessment complements the IUCN Red List assessment, and together they provide a more holistic guide to conservation priorities and actions. Conservation Needs Assessments generate national prioritized lists of species recommended for conservation action. These can subsequently be used to assist in the development of species recovery plans and national action plans, or to inform national conservation priorities better. Additional tools that will evaluate the recommendations for ex situ rescues, to determine the best candidates for conservation breeding programmes, are currently under development.
The objective of this research was to determine the potential use of commercially available multispectral images to detect weeds at low densities during the critical period of weed control. Common lambsquarters seedlings were transplanted into plots of glyphosate-resistant corn at 0, 1, 2, and 4 plants/m2 at two sites, Agronomy Center for Research and Extension (ACRE) and Meig's Horticultural Research Farm at the Throckmorton–Purdue Agricultural Center (TPAC), in Indiana. Aerial multispectral images (12 to 16 cm pixel resolution) were taken 18 and 32 days after planting (DAP) at ACRE and 19 and 32 DAP at TPAC. Corn and common lambsquarters could not be reliably detected and differentiated at either site when weeds were 9 cm or less in height. However, economic threshold densities (2 and 4 plants/m2) of common lambsquarters could be distinguished from weed-free plots at TPAC when weeds were 17 cm in height. At this height, common lambsquarters plants were beyond the optimal height for glyphosate application, but could still be readily controlled with higher rates. Results from this study indicate that commercially available multispectral aerial imagery at current spatial resolutions does not provide consistently reliable data for detection of early season weeds in glyphosate-resistant corn cropping systems. Additional refinement in sensor spatial and spectral resolution is necessary to increase our ability to successfully detect early season weed infestations.