You are on page 1of 4

Short answers (5 points each)

1) Using either the first or the second formulation of the categorical imperative,
explain why it would be immoral to make a lying promise for example, to make
a promise that you will pay a friend back in order to convince her to loan you
some money, while in making that promise you know that you have no intention
of ever paying her back.

Kants first formulation of the categorical imperative states that Act only
according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should
become a universal law without contradiction. 1 Making a lying promise is
obviously immoral under this formulation. Under the formulation, when you
make a lying promise, you are assuming this is a universal rule and youre
prepared to accept such lying promises from everyone on yourself. It is common
sense that we wont acknowledge that cheating us for money is acceptable and
could be universal for this society. So it will be immoral for us to make a lying
promise under this first formulation.

2) Why does a utilitarian view like that of either Bentham or Mill require that
properly made moral decisions take into consideration the interests
of all sentient beings affected by whatever action is in question?

Because first, Bentham interpreted utility as the property of something whereby

it tends to produce benefit, advantage, pleasure, good, or happiness or to
prevent the happening of mischief, pain, evil or unhappiness to the party whose
interest is considered. If that party is the community in general, then the
happiness of the community; if its a particular individual, then the happiness of
that individual.2 So the utilitarian view generated based on utility itself is
supposed to consider the sum of the interests of either the individual or of the
members who compose the whole community. Furthermore, he also argued that
if he is inclined to think that his own (dis)approval annexed to the idea of an
act, with no regard of its consequences, is a sufficient basis for him to judge and
act on, let him ask himself whether his sentiment is also to be everyone elses
standard of right and wrong or whether instead every mans sentiment has the
same privilege of being a standard to itself?3 From the above argument, to take
a utilitarian view, you have to take into consideration the interests of all sentient
beings affected by whatever action in is question.

3) Outline what Bazerman and Tenbrunsel suggest in Ethical Breakdowns

leaders can do to avoid what they call ethical blindness.

1 Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals, translated by Lewis White Beck. Library of Liberal Arts,
1959, page 421/39

2 An introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, Jeremy Bentham, page 7

3 An introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, Jeremy Bentham, page 9

Bazerman and Tenbrunsel suggested to take the five following actions to combat
the ethical blindness:
a) To avoid Ill-conceived goals, we should brainstorm unintended
consequences when devising our targets.
b) To avoid Motivated blindness, we need root out conflicts of interest.
c) To avoid Indirect blindness, we should take ownership of the implications
when we outsource the work.
d) To avoid Slippery slope, we need to be alert for even trivial infractions and
investigate them immediately.
e) To avoid overvaluing outcomes, we need to examine good outcomes to
ensure theyre not driven by unethical tactics.
Longer answers (15 points each)

4. What do you think is the single most important indicator of an ethical culture
within an organization? What can you do, as an individual manager, to promote
and support whatever youve just described? Be sure in your answer to explain
why you think this factor indicates that the organization has a good ethical
culture; where relevant, use concepts and readings from this class to support
your answer.

I think the single most important indicator of an ethical culture within an

organization is the companys consistency between policies and actions. Any
internal policy for an ethical culture needs to be executed. If the execution is
inconsistent with what we said in the policy, employees will no longer respect
those policies. When most employees ignore the policies, those rules will no
longer be effective to control the behaviors. This is especially important for
managers as we translate leadership into policies and rules to ensure our culture
compliant and ethical. Only when all the managers maintain a consistency
between their actions and the policies can them build the power of leadership
and create an ethical culture, because their actions are perceived as the
companys representatives to ethics and legal compliance. As an individual
manager, we can take several steps to promote the consistency: 1) make sure
the policies stipulated for ethical culture are actionable and concrete so we can
better measure the execution of the policies 2) monitor closely the actions and
whether those actions are consistent with the policies 3) treat any violation of
the policies fairly and strictly 4) make no exception of the violations and treat
managers the same as employees. So if the company is consistent between the
policies and actions, it is usually viewed as having a good ethical culture since
the policies to prevent unethical/illegal behaviors can be effectively applied and
the employees are more willing to follow the rules. Admittedly, there are also
many other factors such as an open discussion or a reward on ethical behaviors,
but preventing unethical things from happening should be our first target as a

5. In The Moral Muteness of Managers (California Management Review 1989,

73-88), Bird and Waters write that [t]he short-term benefits of moral muteness
as perceived by mangers (i.e., preservation of harmony, efficiency, and image of
self-sufficiency) produce significant long-term costs for organizations. (p. 79)

Explain what moral muteness is, according to Bird and Waters, why they think it
is morally problematic, and how they argue it can be overcome. Then, explain
why you agree or disagree with them about the importance of managers
describing their ethical decisions and actions using moral language.

According to Bird and Waters, moral muteness occurs when people behave per
moral principles yet do not talk about morality when discussing these decisions.
In business world, it refers to the pervasive reluctance of managers to talk about
moral issues of business in ethical terms. The authors identify three main causes
of mural muteness: 1) threat to harmony 2) threat to efficiency 3) threat to
image of power and effectiveness. Since managers are usually concerned about
the potential harm to harmony, efficiency and image of power and effectiveness
of the company, they often avoid moral speech. However, they ignored the
hidden five consequences of moral muteness: 1) creation of mural amnesia 2)
inappropriate narrowness in conceptions of morality 3) moral stress 4) neglect of
moral abuses 5) decreased authority of moral standards. To overcome the moral
muteness, several approaches are recommended in the article: 1) encourage
moral discourse in the workplace 2) willfully interject moral expressions into the
discussion of business issues 3) be willing to sacrifice short term efficiency for
the long-term benefits of moral discourse.

I agree with them about the importance of managers describing their ethical
decisions and actions using moral language for two reasons: 1) from my
personal experience, I feel that the avoidance of talking ethics in public will only
worsen the situation. Once the muteness culture formed, managers and
employees would no longer talk frankly about the ethical problems. Most of the
time, those problems would be ignored or set aside until more serious
consequences force everyone to face it again. In banking industry, many
financial crimes happened because the corporate culture talked only about the
profit margin instead of ethics. When it comes to a minor unethical problem,
most of the time, the corporate just avoid talking widely or publicly about it.
With the time goes by, no one will raise concern on the unethical behaviors until
the company has committed unchangeable crimes. 2) I am a firm believer in the
long-term value of the company. Moral muteness is sacrificing long-term value
for short-term harmony. To ensure a healthy corporate culture as well as a long-
term growth, the company should use ethical language more often and discuss
ethical issues publicly in the company.

6. This course is called ethical leadership - what do you think ethical leadership
is? Use examples, and explain your reasons for your answer.

After taking this course, I think ethical leadership has three main components: 1)
understand the business ethics from a philosophical perspective 2) learn from
the past lessons and build our own standards of business ethics that can be used
to guide our career 3) lead the business in an ethical way or improve the
effectiveness of ethical leadership in business world. For example, we first
learned about how to understand the morals and human society from Benthams
utilitarian view, Kants formulations and Smiths sympathy. After we established
an objective view of business ethics, we started drawing lessons from previous
mistakes in business management such as the moral muteness, the

discrimination in workplace, the unethical practices in Food industry. As a future
business manager, ethical leadership requires us to make ethical decisions, set
up ethical rules in business world, use moral language, maintain consistency
between rules and actions, avoid all kinds of discrimination in the workplace and
whistle blow if necessary; besides, we need to match our business goal with our
social responsibility for a long-term sustainable business development.
Admittedly, it is hard to always be ethical in a business environment when
sometimes the commercial goal is not aligned with ethics standards or social
responsibility, we should stick to ethical decisions based on the above
fundamental knowledge and understanding while reminding ourselves of those
previous ethical mistakes we have learned in class, life and past work

(Word count of answers: 1328~)