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NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE

EXAMINATION FOR ARTS AND SOCIAL SCIENCES 2 (Semester 1: 2009-2010)

PHILOSOPHY

PH2218

BUSINESS ETHICS

NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2009

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Time Allowed: 2 Hours

INSTRUCTIONS TO CANDIDATES

1. This examination paper contains SIX QUESTIONS and comprises THREE printed pages.

2. Answer TWO questions.

3. This is a CLOSED BOOK Examination.

PH2218

QUESTION 1

Consider this thesis, which I’ll refer to as CW:

(CW) Corporate wrongdoing is often a consequence of interaction between the personal character of individual actors and the institutional incentives they’re confronted with on a day-to-day basis. Therefore, it makes sense in the study of business ethics to be concerned not only with the standards of conduct managers and CEOs ought to uphold, and the personal virtues conducive to living up to those standards, but also the design of the corporate institutions within which managers and CEOs do their jobs.

CW raises the following practical question: What types of institutional design will best facilitate decisions to do the right thing or avoid harming members of society? Marcoux has a view about this. He says, “some business ethicists are starting to see service to shareholders' interests in profitability as a solution to problems of managerial accountability.”

Explain Marcoux’s view about how Friedman’s Shareholder Theory is supposed to solve problems of managerial accountability. Should we expect the alternative Stakeholder Theory to do a better job solving such problems? Why or why not?

QUESTION 2

In additional to problems of managerial accountability, the institutional design question raised by CW also is relevant to addressing problems of environmental degradation. How? (Hint: discuss Schmidtz’s distinction between values – a preservationist ethic vs. a conservationist ethic and priorities.) Evaluate this strategy.

QUESTION 3

Consider the following two claims:

a. Employers who subject labour to sweatshop conditions may be morally suspect,

but they don’t violate their employees’ autonomy rights.

b. Advertisers who utilize manipulative techniques may be morally suspect, but they don’t violate consumers’ autonomy rights.

Evaluate these claims and defend your evaluation.

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PH2218

QUESTION 4

Long argues that people should be careful to avoid conflating free market capitalism and state-corporate capitalism. In particular, the sins of the latter should not be attributed to the former. Provide the outlines of Long’s argument and then how it might be utilized to address the following kinds of social problems: (a) access to expensive pharmaceutical drugs; (b) environmental degradation; (c) employees subjected to poor treatment and or working conditions by employers. Compare Long’s evaluation of corporations with that of Joel Bakan’s film, The Corporation.

QUESTION 5

Duska claims that “whistleblowing is not only permissible but expected when a company is harming society.” Evaluate his claim and defend your evaluation.

QUESTION 6

Design your own question. Reconstruct and provide a clear, philosophically searching exposition of an argument that was advanced by one of philosophers in one of the assigned readings. Then respond to that philosopher’s argument by developing an objection (or set of objections) you have to the argument. Make sure you’re clear and persuasive about why your objections undermine or rebut the argument. The one further condition is that the topic of this essay must be different than the topic of the other essay you choose to write.

END OF PAPER

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