Kantian Business Ethics

The Ethics of Duty
More than any other philosopher, Kant emphasized the way in which the moral life was centered on duty.

1724 -- 1804

It is sometimes described as "duty" or "obligation" based ethics, because deontologists believe that ethical rules "bind you to your duty. When faced with an ethical dilemma, Kant believes we should ask ourselves: “To whom do I owe a duty and what duty do I owe them?” Kant believes only actions performed for the sake of duty have moral worth.

A central theme among deontological theorists is that we have a duty to do those things that are inherently good ("truth-telling" for example) . While the ends or consequences of our actions are important, our obligation or duty is to take the right action, even if the consequences of a given act may be bad.

Types of Imperatives
Hypothetical Imperative:
– “If you want to drive to Jaipur from New Delhi , take the NH 18 Highway.” – Structure: if…then…

Categorical Imperative
– “Always tell the truth” – Unconditional, applicable at all times

The Categorical Imperative
Act only according to the maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.” or “Act as if the maxim of your action were to become through your will a universal law of nature.”

“The obligation to do our duty is unconditional. That is, we must do it for the sake of duty, because it is the right thing to do, not because it will profit us psychologically, or economically, not because if we don’t do it and get caught we’ll be punished. The categorical imperative was Kant’s name for this inbred, self-imposed restraint, for the command of ` within that tells us that the only true moral act is done from a pure sense of duty.”
-- Admiral James Stockdale

Three formulations of the categorical imperative The first formulation "requires that the maxims be chosen as though they should hold as universal laws of nature“ The principle of Universalizability

The second formulation holds that “ Act so that you treat humanity ,whether in your own person or in that of another , always as end and never as a means only Respect for person

The third formulation The third formulation it refers to the capacity of a rational individual to make an informed, uncoerced decision. To respect other people is to respect their capacity for acting freely , that is , their autonomy. Autonomy (self governing)

Kant's three significant formulations of the categorical imperative are:

Act only according to that maxim by which you can also will that it would become a universal law. Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end. Act as though you were, through your maxims, a law-making member of a kingdom of ends

Categorical Imperatives: Universality “Always act in such a way that the maxim of your action can be willed as a universal law of humanity.” --Immanuel Kant

Categorical Imperatives: Respect “Always treat humanity, whether in yourself or in other people, as an end in itself and never as a mere means.” --Immanuel Kant

KANTIAN VS. UTILITARIAN
UTILITARIANISM Greatest Happiness Principle The rightness or wrongness of an act depends upon the consequences. (the END Justifies the MEANS) KANTIAN ETHICS Supreme Principle of Morality The rightness or wrongness of an act depends upon universal laws of action (the END never Justifies the MEANS) It is all about DUTY

Deontological ethics is commonly contrasted with teleological ethical theories, according to which the rightness of an action is determined by its consequences. Deontologists believe that some actions are wrong no matter what consequences follow from them Immanuel Kant, for example, famously argued that it is always wrong to lie – even if a murderer is asking for the location of a potential victim

Exceptions
Are exceptions possible for Kant?
– Yes, as long as they can be consistently universalized

Examples
– The speeding car
We can universalize an exception for something like ambulance drivers

– The Gestapo example
Can we universalize a maxim to deceive in order to save innocent lives?

Overview: The Ethics of Respect
One of Kant’s most lasting contributions to moral philosophy was his emphasis on the notion of respect

“Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end.”

Kant on Respect

Kant on Respecting Persons
Kant brought the notion of respect (Achtung) to the center of moral philosophy for the first time. To respect people is to treat them as ends in themselves. He sees people as autonomous, i.e., as giving the moral law to themselves. The opposite of respecting people is treating them as mere means to an end.

Strength’s of Kantian Ethics
• Emphasizes the equal rights and importance of every person. • Protects the rights of the minority from the majority. • Focuses on following moral principles rather than producing specific results.

Weakness of Kantian Ethics
- Provides no guideline for determining

priority when different duties conflict.
- For example, what if you don’t believe in

lying or copying someone else’s work? Would you lie and tell a friend that you don’t have the paper he wants to look at and possibly copy? Or do you let him have the paper? Duty-based ethics provides no framework for you to resolve the conflict.

- •

Duty-based ethics could simply become “rule following,” with possible temptations to bend the rules or to cut corners.

- •

Doing one’s duty can have negative results. If it does, can the action taken still be considered moral?

Virtue Ethics

Virtue ethics' founding fathers are Plato and, more particularly Aristotle (its roots in Chinese philosophy are even more ancient) and it persisted as the dominant approach in Western moral philosophy .

Virtue Ethics
Utilitarian and duty-based ethics focus on deciding what actions we should take in situations because, from our perspective, they are the right thing to do.

Virtue ethics make us decide what actions we should take based on the kind of person we want to be.
Aristotle

He believed that we can achieve happiness—or the “good life”—by developing virtue.

The good life in Aristotle’s sense is possible only for virtuous persons –that is, persons who develops the traits of character that we call virtues.

Virtue to Aristotle meant the excellence of a specific thing. The virtue of a knife is that it cuts well; the virtue of a teacher is that he or she imparts knowledge successfully to others. The virtue of human beings in general is our rationality. To determine the specific virtue of a specific thing simply ask what purpose that thing serves in society.

“Our job as human beings is to use our rationality to find the golden mean in every virtue and then to practice and live it until it becomes a habit.” Courage is a virtue, but too little courage becomes cowardice and too much becomes recklessness. In between these two extremes is the golden mean of courage.

Courage is a virtue, but too little courage becomes cowardice and too much becomes recklessness. In between these two extremes is the golden mean of courage. Our job as human beings is to use our rationality to find the golden mean in every virtue and then to practice and live it until it becomes a habit.

What is Virtue
Aristotle describes Virtue as character trait that manifests itself in Habitual action Honesty for example , cannot consist in telling the truth once; it is rather a trait of person who tells the truth as a general practice For Aristotle, virtue is something that is practiced and thereby learned—it is habit .

Aristotle classified virtue as a state of character , which is different from feeling or skill.

A virtue is something that we admire in a person ; a virtue is an excellence of some kind that is worth having for its own sake.

This has clear implications for moral education, for Aristotle obviously thinks that you can teach people to be virtuous

Concluding Evaluation
Virtues are those strengths of character that enable us to flourish The virtuous person has practical wisdom, the ability to know when and how best to apply these various moral perspectives.

Virtue Ethics in business
Business persons face situations that are peculiar to business , and so they need certain business related character traits. Some virtues of every day life , moreover , are not applicable to business. Honesty , is a virtue in business ,but certain amount of bluffing or concealment is accepted in negotiations.

According to Robert C Solomon, mere wealth creation is not purpose of business. According to him,
The bottom line approach to business is that we have to get away from “bottom line” thinking and conceive of business as an essential part of the good life ,living well getting along with others , having a sense of self respect , and being part of something one can be proud of.

He further states that,
… such notions as ‘honest advertisement’ and ‘truth in lending’ are not simply legal impositions upon business life nor are they saintly ideals that are unrealistic for people in business . They are rather preconditions of business and as such the essential virtues for any business dealing.

The response of most people to a complex ethical dilemma is to ask what they feel comfortable with or what a person they admire would do. Virtue ethics views individuals as embedded in community and holds that a web of close relationships is essential for a good life. Because business activity so much of role and relationships , then perhaps an ethic of virtue is more relevant to the experience of people in the workplace

Virtue Ethics in Business
Virtue ethics could be applied to business directly by holding that the virtues of a good businessperson are the same as those of a good person. Solomon contends that individuals are embedded in communities and that business is essentially a communal activity in which people work together for common good.

The distinguishing feature of virtue is its insistence that being of certain character and not perfomining right actions is central to morality. If we expect an ethical theory to help us solve the really hard and complex problems of life ,than an ethics of right action may be more helpful . If on other hand , we are more concerned with living our daily life in a community with others ,then perhaps an ethics of character is more appropriate.

JUSTICE

Main Types of Justice Distributive justice Retributive justice Compensatory justice

Distributive justice

Which deals with the distribution benefits and burdens.

Retributive justice
Which involves the punishment of wrong doers.

Compensatory justice
Which is a matter of compensating persons for wrong done to them.

Principles of Distributive Justice
Strict Egalitarian : Every person should receive equal benefits and burdens Merit--Plato's Version : People should be rewarded with positions of responsibility according to their intelligence, capacity for devotion to the public good, and education.

"Socialist“ : People should be assigned burdens according to abilities, benefits according to need. Libertarian : Burdens should be assigned as they are voluntarily accepted, benefits as others voluntarily give them

Capitalism : Benefits should be distributed according to the value of contribution individual makes to the society , and benefits are the direct results of you efforts

Egalitarian theory

Selecting Principles of Justice.
Different principles of distributive justice are proposed by different philosophers. What is needed is a way to determine when social systems, or the rules of justice that govern society a s a whole, are just. Such an approach to the selection of rules of distributive justice is provided by John Rawls.

Rawls’s egalitarian theory
Theory of Justice : A Theory of Justice is a widely-read book of political philosophy and ethics by John Rawls. Published in 1971 His objection to utilitarianism , as we have already seen , is that it does not give adequate attention to the way in which the utility is distributed among different individuals

The focus of Rawls’s theory , is on social justice , that is, on a conception of justice that is suited to a well ordered society .

Once we have determined what constitutes a just society , however we can apply the results to questions of justice in the political ,legal and economic spheres.

Utilitarianism ,”Rawls’s charges “, does not take seriously the difference between persons “

As a alternative to the utilitarian ideal of society with the highest level of welfare , Rawls proposes a society that recognizes its free and equal moral persons , a concept he attributes to Kant.

For Rawls ,questions of justice arise primarily when free and equal persons attempt to advance their own interest and come into conflict with others pursuing their self interest .

John Rawls' Method
We are to imagine ourselves in what Rawls calls the Original Position. We are all self-interested rational persons and we stand behind "the Veil of Ignorance." To say that we are self-interested rational persons is to say that we are motivated to select, in an informed and enlightened way, whatever seems advantageous for ourselves.

To say that we are behind a Veil of Ignorance is to say we do not know the following sorts of things: our sex, race, physical handicaps, generation, social class of our parents, etc. But selfinterested rational persons are not ignorant of (1) the general types of possible situations in which humans can find themselves; (2) general facts about human psychology and "human nature".

Self-interested rational persons behind the Veil of Ignorance are given the task of choosing the principles that shall govern actual world. Rawls believes that he has set up an inherently fair procedure here. Because of the fairness of the procedure Rawls has described, he says, the principles that would be chosen by means of this procedure would be fair principles.

John Rawls' principles of justice

The First Principle of Justice-each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive scheme of equal basic liberties compatible with a similar scheme of liberties for others .

The basic liberties of citizens are, roughly speaking, political liberty (i.e., to vote ), freedom of speech , liberty of conscience, freedom of property; and freedom from arbitrary arrest.

The first principle is more or less absolute, and may not be violated, even for the sake of the second principle.

The task of ensuring that every one has basic rights ought to be completed before any inequalities based on the second principle are permitted.

The Second Principle of Justice
Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that : a) they are to be of the greatest benefit to the least-advantaged members of society (the difference principle). b) offices and positions must be open to everyone under conditions of fair equality of opportunity

The second principle recognizes ,however that there are conditions under which rational self-interested persons would make an exception to the first principle and accept less than equal share of some primary goods. One such condition is that every one would be better off with the inequality than without it.

If it is possible to increase the total amount of income , for example , but not possible to distribute it equally , than resulting distribution is still just, according to Rawls as long as the extra income is distributed in such a way that every one benefits from inequality.

Principle 2(b) , the principle of equal opportunity is similar to the view that careers should be open to all on the basis of talent. Whether a person gets a certain job , for example ought to be determined by competence in that line of work and not by skin color ,family connection or any other irrelevant characteristic.

What does the Difference Principle mean? It means that society may undertake projects that require giving some persons more power, income, status, etc. than others, e.g., paying accountants and upper-level managers more than assembly-line operatives, provided that the following conditions are met:

(a) the project will make life better off for the people who are now worst off, for example, by raising the living standards of everyone in the community and empowering the least advantaged persons to the extent consistent with their wellbeing, and (b) access to the privileged positions is not blocked by discrimination according to irrelevant criteria.

Rawls' claim in a) is that departures from equality of a list of what he calls primary goods – 'things which a rational man wants whatever else he wants' - are justified only to the extent that they improve the lot of those who are worst-off under that distribution in comparison with the previous, equal, distribution

Libertarianism

Libertarianism
Libertarianism is, as the name implies, the belief in liberty. Libertarians strive for the best of all worlds - a free, peaceful, abundant world where each individual has the maximum opportunity to pursue his or her dreams and to realize his full potential.

Libertarians believe that each person owns his own life and property, and has the right to make his own choices as to how he lives his life - as long as he simply respects the same right of others to do the same.

Libertarianism is thus the combination of liberty (the freedom to live your life in any peaceful way you choose), responsibility (the prohibition against the use of force against others, except in defense), and tolerance (honoring and respecting the peaceful choices of others).

Libertarians believe that this combination of personal and economic liberty produces abundance, peace, harmony, creativity, order, and safety

Another way of saying this is that libertarians believe you should be free to do as you choose with your own life and property, as long as you don't harm the person and property of others.

Friedrich von hayek
Hayek was an economist who made important contributions to political theory. He was a critic of socialism. He was against the system of state planned economies. He believed in “spontaneous order” and advantage of market in processing information

Spontaneous order
Human activity requires a, certain order which is to say rules and institutions that provide a basic frame work for people interaction. One concept of order is a planned order, in which a ruler or a group of leaders set goals and organise people activities to achieve them.

An alternative to a planned order is a system in which individuals , within certain general rules , make decisions that result in Spontaneous order Hayek cites the development of language , money and the first laws as examples of such spontaneous order. Spontaneous order protects and expands the basic right to liberty and property.

Robert Nozick- Entitlement Theory
Entitlement Theory is a theory of private property created by Robert Nozick . The entitlement theory can be stated very simply . A distribution is just “ if every one is entitled to the holdings they possess”

Whether we are entitled to a certain holdings is determined by tracing their history. Most of us what we possess comes from others through transfers , such as purchases and gifts. As long as each transfer was just and the original acquisition was just, then our present holding is just.

Nozick's entitlement theory comprises 3 main principles
1 A principle of justice in acquisition This principle deals with the initial acquisition of holdings. It is an account of how people first come to own common property, original settlers acquired by clearing the land and tilling it .

2 A principle of justice in transfer - This principle explains how one person can acquire holdings , including voluntary exchange and gifts.

3 A principle of rectification of injustice how to deal with holdings that are unjustly acquired or transferred, whether and how much victims can be compensated, how to deal with long past transgressions or injustices done by a government, and so on.

Nozick believes that if the world were wholly just, only the first two principles would be needed .

Thus, Entitlement Theory would imply "a distribution is just if everyone is entitled to the holdings they possess under the distribution" Unfortunately, not everyone follows these rules: "some people steal from others, or defraud them, or enslave them, seizing their product and preventing them from living as they choose, or forcibly exclude others from competing in exchanges" . Thus the third principle of rectification is needed.

Back up

Egalitarinisim
Egalitarianism (derived from the French word égal, meaning equal) or Equalism is a political doctrine that holds that all people should be treated as equals and have the same political, economic, social, and civil rights. Generally it applies to being held equal under the law and society at large. In actual practice, one may be considered an egalitarian in most areas listed below, even if not subscribing to equality in every possible area of individual difference.

Economic egalitarianism
Economic egalitarianism is a state of economic affairs in which the participants of a society are of equal standing and equal access to all the economic resources in terms of economic power, wealth, and contribution. It is a founding principle of various forms of socialism.

(1) is egalitarian, since it distributes extensive liberties equally to all persons. (2b) is also quite egalitarian, since it distributes opportunities to be considered for offices and positions in an equal manner. (2a) is not egalitarian but makes benefit for some (those with greater talents, training, etc.) proportionate to their contribution toward benefiting the least advantaged persons.

What does the Difference Principle mean? It means that society may undertake projects that require giving some persons more power, income, status, etc. than others, e.g., paying accountants and upper-level managers more than assembly-line operatives, provided that the following conditions are met: (a) the project will make life better off for the people who are now worst off, for example, by raising the living standards of everyone in the community and empowering the least advantaged persons to the extent consistent with their well-being,

and (b) access to the privileged positions is not blocked by discrimination according to irrelevant criteria.

The Difference Principle has elements of other familiar ethical theories. The "socialist" idea (see Distributive Justice) that responsibilities or burdens should be distibuted according to ability and benefits according to need is partly contained within the Difference Principle. We may reasonably assume that the "least advantaged" have the greatest needs and that those who receive special powers (hinted at under "social inequalities") also have special responsibilities or burdens. However, the merit principle that the use of special skills should be rewarded is also included in the Difference Principle.

What (2a) does not permit is a change in social and economic institutions that makes life better for those who are already well off but does nothing for those who are already disadvantaged, or makes their life worse. Example: policies that permit nuclear power plants which degrade the environment for nearby family farmers but provide jobs for already well-paid professionals who come in from the big cities.

The First Principle of Justice
The basic liberties of citizens are, roughly speaking, political liberty (i.e., to vote and run for office), freedom of speech and assembly, liberty of conscience, freedom of property; and freedom from arbitrary arrest. The first principle is more or less absolute, and may not be violated, even for the sake of the second principle.

The Second Principle of Justice
Rawls' claim in a) is that departures from equality of a list of what he calls primary goods – 'things which a rational man wants whatever else he wants' – are justified only to the extent that they improve the lot of those who are worst-off under that distribution in comparison with the previous, equal, distribution.

An important consequence here, however, is that inequalities can actually be just on Rawls's view, as long as they are to the benefit of the least well off

John Rawls' principles can be understood as blending elements of merit, egalitarian, libertarian, and "socialist" principles, they are not an arbitrary synthesis but have their own carefully worked out derivation from a reasonable model of fairness

Self-interested rational persons behind the Veil of Ignorance are given the task of choosing the principles that shall govern actual world. Rawls believes that he has set up an inherently fair procedure here. Because of the fairness of the procedure Rawls has described, he says, the principles that would be chosen by means of this procedure would be fair principles.

Rawls’s method
Rawls’s begins by asking us to imagine a situation in which free and equal persons ,concerned to advance their own interests, attempt to arrive at unanimous agreement on the principles that will serve the basis for constructing the major institutions of society.

The approach taken by Rawls in a A theory of justice is similar to traditional contract theories , which assume that if individuals in some hypothetical pre contract situation would unanimously accept certain terms for governing their relations, then those terms are just and all people have an obligation to abide by them. Crucial to any contract theory is description of the pre contact situation which is called original position

A distinctive feature of the original position ,as described by Rawls is the veil of ignorance . The individuals who are asked to agree on the principles of justice must do so without knowing many facts about themselves and their situation. Rawls conceives of the process as “bargaining game” in which people are free to offer proposals of their own and reject those of others until unanimity is achieved

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