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Importance of Cultural Relativism Versus Cultural Imperialism in Ethical Decision making

Cultural Relativism
holds that appropriate behavior in a country or culture is determined by its laws and customs. That is, what is moral is defined by the customs within individual countries.

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Cultural Imperialism
means that in operating internationally a firm maintains the standards of its home country and judges others by those standards.

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Relevance of Cultural Relativism

Helps avoid cultural stereotypes and sweeping generalizations Facilitates adaptation by taking a dynamic rather than a static view of cultures Helps to identify universal values like human dignity, respect for basic rights, and good citizenship , which determine the absolute moral threshold for all business activities in all cultures . Enables understanding the context when deciding what is right and wrong.
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Philosophical Systems
Western Perspective Islamic View Confucian Thought Indian Systems


Teleological Theories

Utilitarianism Jeremy Bentham & J.S.Mill Distributive Justice John Rawls FOCUS ON ENDS

Deontological Theories
Kantian Philosophy Immanuel Kant Ten Commandments Biblical Philosophy Aristotles virtue ethics


Objectivism- Ayn Rand Intuitionism-Henry More, GE Moore, Samuel Clark Humanism-Kubasek, Brenan , Huang Meta ethics- epistemology and ontology of actions Applied Ethics

Teleological, systems define the rightness of an action in terms of end result that is the good its consequences yield.- End Over Means Deontological ethics systems hold that moral right takes precedence over the good and can be evaluated by considerations independent of, or in addition to consequences. Means over End Contemporary theories reflect on individual freedom , innate goodness of human beings and application orientation

Teleological and Deontological Ethics Systems

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Utilitarianism : Basic Tenets

Utilitarianism is committed to the maximization of good and minimization of harm and evil. Means to achieve this is : Cost and benefit analysis Risk assessment Efficiency is key Intensity of effect is important Focus on consequences rather than intentions

What is Good?
Involves the fulfillment of at least one of these:
Pleasure : hedonistic view Happiness : realization of goals: personal vs individual ? Ideals : maximize ideal values majority vs minority Preferences : satisfaction of hybrid of values & goals

Problems with Utilitarianism

Not always possible to calculate utility Quantification of happiness, love, pleasure No common definition of what is good Focus on greater good over smaller good

Utilitarianism is most appropriate for policy decisions, as long as a strong notion of fundamental human rights guarantees that it will not violate rights of small minorities

You have a small business with thirty employees. Five of them are of strong adherents of a religion that a minority practices in India. They have put a petition that to be given holidays on days prescribed by their religion , and this because , others have holidays on theirs . Should you concede?

A utilitarian response will be denying the request simply because it does not serve the interest of the larger group

John Rawls : Distributive Justice

Starting point: The Original Position
self-interested men and women maximizing personal welfare seeking agreement and cooperation People are free and rational Correct inequality if they exist

Veil of Ignorance
Ethical justice is measured by the capacity to act to enhance cooperation among members of a societythat which is determined behind the Veil of Ignorance.

Formulate rules as if we know nothing about personal circumstances like social class, natural abilities and wealth of people BUT we know enough about human welfare and human behavior

Your business is industrial chemicals . Some of the countries you are exporting to have little concern for safe disposal of industrial waste and this has put the health of citizens at serious risk. Claims of rival companies and environmental activist has further complicated the situation. One group says that disposal of waste is a legislative matter ; while the other holds everyone responsible . The media is also active in reporting such matters and you fear this will tarnish your image . What should you do ?

According to Distributive Justice the company should continue its business in the country ( under the veil of ignorance ) , and assume that this country knows and wants to solve its problems in its own way. There is no need to impose sanctions or trade barriers

Deontology : Kants Metaphysics of Morals

Moral theories tell us that lying & homicide are wrong & helping those in need is a good thing virtues and vices The theories explain WHY these things are right or wrong. And give REASONS for believing in them.

They illuminate grey areas, clarify difficult problems, and resolve conflicts. Kant draws from what is applicable universally and ,from religious authority .

Supreme Principle of Morality

An action has moral worth if it conforms to the requirements of duty and is done for the sake of duty.
A person is morally good if he/she can be counted on to do duty, motivated by a respect for moral law Eg Shopkeeper keeping honest prices as a duty and a sense of morality and not for attracting customers.


(Three Formulations of the Categorical Imperative)

CI (1)

CI (2)
Does it treat People as an ends And not simply As a means?

CI (3)


Could it become universal


could the maxim be willed by you and agreed to by everyone to be the moral laws for the community





Fails the Categorical Imperative IT IS NOT MORALLY RIGHT!

You are the CEO of a small manufacturing company in Pondicherry( 15 employees). It has come to your notice that that a rival company has gained illegal access to one of your engineering secrets and intends to use it for commercial gain. The use will have an adverse effect on your commercial viability. Your legal advisors tells you that recourse to litigation will be laborious , expensive and not stop the rival from going ahead with use. senior management advises you to hire a private investigator engaged to find out information that can be used as a leverage ( blackmail)to restore the equity in power .


Can hiring a detective be made a universal law? ( C1) When we engage in espionage we use people as means against the other . ( C2)

Will every one agree to this kind of law ( using detectives) to gain power equity ? ( C3)


Law of Christ depends on 2 precepts loving GOD and loving the neighbor. God, in delivering the law to Moses, gave him Ten Commandments written upon two tablets of stone

Forbid people from worshipping demons, heavenly bodies, ancestors, lower elements like, fire and wind, etc.

Prevents the misuse of any idols prepared primarily for worshipSACRILEGE

It is an insult to God because, when you swear by God, it is nothing other than to call Him to witness; and when you swear falsely, you either believe God to be ignorant of the truth and thus place ignorance in God Gods name can be taken for an oath, sanctification, expulsion of adversary, confession, defense, make the work complete

God created all things in six days, and rested on the seventh.Encourage kindness to people for some are so cruel to themselves and to others that they labor ceaselessly all on account of money

We receive nourishment from our parents in childhood, we must support them in their old age
Rewards for this is Grace and Glory,- A long life with grateful and pleasing children

Execution of Criminals, suicide ,slander is prohibited

Related to day to day routine activities as well as being infidel. Any person who commits such a sin is liable for punishment in future

Treachery or stealing is considered to be a sin Types of theft could be: by taking something stealthily, not paying wages, fraud in buying and selling,

Lying is prohibited because it likens one to the devil .

Covetousness destroys peace of heart Covetousness renders his riches useless both to himself and to others, because he desires only to hold on to them


Ayn Rands Objectivism

We should be free to pursue our self interest as long as it does not infringe on another's. The government is an agency to protect the individuals rights Business is free enterprise that brings wealth to the nation and should not be controlled

Is unbridled freedom and liberty to act good for business ? Will this benefit the society?


Good is an indefinable notion. The basic moral truths are objective irrespective of how anyone feels . We should pick our own moral principles based on innate sense of right and wrong. Existential philosophy is very close to this . Individualistic approach to ethics

Humanists theorize that ethics is an inherent part of human condition ; that critical thinking ,reason and intelligence helps in setting values and decisions about is right and wrong. A offshoot of positive psychology .

Applied Ethics
Create a code of ethics that can be applied ( normative) Create an office to monitor its adherence Conduct training programs to teach ethics Create structural arrangements to help people stay out of ethical dilemmas

Deontological approach in designing ethical codes

Rights perspective - Fundamental rights are accorded to human beings of all circumstances and backgrounds, such as the right to life, liberty, security of person, and freedom from enslavement. Justice perspective -Demands respect for the dignity of every individual through the application of objective and impartial decisions, or actions; benefits, and punishments are allocated by society based on equality of rights among all human beings. Includes distributive, retributive, and compensatory types of justice. Virtue ethics- Actions flowing from the disposition and internal qualities of individuals who consistently strive to lead a moral life (e.g., ethical behavior via honesty, courage, modesty, compassion, integrity, and charity). Core of Buddhist, Confucian, and many Native American ethical traditions.

United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights Adopted in 1948, proclaims the rights of peoples worldwide to freedom, protection, security, just working arrangements, and a reasonable standard of living.

CERES Principles:
Ten voluntary principles that commit signatories to protection of the biosphere, sustainable use of natural resources, conservation, reduction of wastes, production of safe products, timely informing of the public regarding any health or safety dangers, and other environmental goals.

The Caux Principles

Formed by an organization of business leaders from Europe, Japan, & the United States in 1986, these principles promote the sacredness of each person (human dignity) and the value of working together for the common good.

The Caux Round Tables Principles for Business have at their core two basic ethical ideals: kyosei and human dignity.
he Japanese concept of kyosei refers to living and working together for the common good, while concept of human dignity refers to the sacredness of each person as an end, not as a means to the fulfillment of others purposes. The Caux Principles combine elements of the ethic of care (between participant countries) and those of both human rights and virtue ethics.

The Global Sullivan Principles

Originally developed in the 1970s, eight principles for corporate social responsibility related to justice, human rights, tolerance,& equal opportunity in global operations to support economic, social, and political justice by companies where they do business; to support human rights and to encourage equal opportunity at all levels of employment, including racial and gender diversity on decision making committees and boards; to train and advance disadvantaged workers for technical, supervisory and management opportunities; and to assist with greater tolerance and understanding among peoples; thereby, helping to improve the quality of life for communities, workers and children with dignity and equality. (Sullivan, 1997, para. 1)

International Labour Organizations (ILO) Core Labor Conventions

Adopted in 1982, seven core conventions have been ratified by varying numbers of ILO member-nations. These include freedom of association & protection of the right to organize, equal pay for equal work, abolition of forced labor, elimination of discrimination in access to employment, and the abolition of child labor.

Corporate Code of Ethics

Standards for vendors, contractors, manufacturers, and employees, usually in the form of ethical standards or codes of ethical conduct. These standards cover issues including a safe and healthy workplace, absence of forced or compulsory labor, nondiscrimination, absence of coercion and harassment, working conditions, fair wages, banning of child labor, protection of the environment, and ethical conduct

Ethical Decision Making

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Case Target Marketing of Cigarettes

What is the nature ethical dilemma involved in the case? By applying principles of (1) Utilitarianism, (2) Distributive Justice , (3) Kants Deontology and (4) Humanism principles what are the four business decisions you will take What are the gaps ( if any ) in the Western ethical philosophies