Articulate the major theories in ethics, conduct analysis, and recommend ethical action
According to virtue ethics, virtue or character is key. Being moral or living rightly means working diligently on developing one’s virtues: courage, compassion, wisdom and temperance and just as diligently, avoiding greed, jealousy and selfishness.
Utilitarianism holds that the positive end justifies the means, whatever the means may be.Thus, acting ethically is working to optimize happiness for the largest amount of people and minimize suffering. Breaking traditional moral rules, if necessary, to achieve this end is justified.
Kantianism (German philosopher Immanuel Kant) focuses on the intent or motives behind one’s actions rather than the end results. Acting rightly is striving to uphold universal moral law (Deontological Ethics/duty based on rules): treat everyone with respect. When one is motivated by the duty to uphold moral law, one can overcome base, animal instincts and act ethically.
Contract theory proposes thinking about ethics in terms of agreements between people. Doing the right thing means abiding by the agreements that the members of a rational society would choose. So for contract theorists, ethics isn’t necessarily about character, consequences, or principles.
Feminist and Care ethics rethinks traditional ethics because it excludes women’s experiences.Philosopher Alison Jaggar faults traditional ethics for letting women down in five related ways. Within this realm, care ethics focuses on relationships before other factors: acting rightly involves building, strengthening, and maintaining strong relationships. In care ethicists, relationships become fundamental to ethical thinking.
Ethical Frameworks, Collaboration Week Two. We were to research and provide a definition for: altruism, consequentialism/utilitarianism and egoism. Then, choose one theory as the basis for a rationale for how it applies to personal and organizational ethics and compare to Kant’s Theory of Ethics.
Professional Assessment, Discussion B Week Six. Our challenge was to find an example of toxic leadership, identify the root cause of the toxic behavior and propose two strategies to resolve the issue.
The five main ethical theories are defined above and the chosen artifacts are examples of how we, as students of this program, applied various ethical theories in real life situations, examined the outcomes and made recommendations based on what we have learned. An additional artifact I want to mention: we were introduced to Nike’s sweat shops and discussed Deontological and Utilitarian ethical theories and the leadership of Multi-Nationaltion Enterprises (MNEs). We learned about the shadows MNEs can cast upon cultures when they do not operate ethically and choose a model of profit over people. The ethics, values and good will of the company is found in and modeled by leadership. Therefore, when values are not upheld, it falls upon leadership’s shoulders, such as what has happened with Nike (see link to video below in references).
We examined the utilitarian view of any means to meet an end and the deontological view of rules based on higher morals. We agreed that MNEs operating unethically would favor the utilitarian view and would reject the deontological view due to cultural differences in religion. Later in the course we learned about Patagonia, which is an MNE that operates with the utmost care and responsibility. I was refreshed and inspired to learn how well Patagonia manages processes and procedures in order to respect and honor the people and the cultures with which it works.
Personally: I became more aware of my responsibility as a consumer, to educate myself on how corporations operate, before I purchase their products. I also became more aware of injustice and how MNEs violate human rights. Just as I was disappointed in Nike, I was impressed by Patagonia and will use some of the methods I learned from their resources in my own life.
Professionally: One such process is auditing. Creating an auditing process to ensure quality is a great idea, and requiring departments to pass periodic quality audits is even better. In my professional life, we do administer audits and have a very robust compliance program, which I am glad to express that we have in place. I know not many organizations feel ethics to be a worthy focus. I realize the importance of checks and balances within organizations and the duty of organizations to uphold common values and ethics.
In me as a person: I want to remain focused on why I was drawn to this ethical leadership program and offer a resource from the Harvard Business Review for gaining a better understanding of unethical behavior: Why ethical people make unethical choices (https://hbr.org/2016/12/why-ethical-people-make-unethical-choice). Understanding reasons why people are either forced to or drawn to making unethical choices is vital to understanding human nature and certain psychological phenomenon which we, as humans, face. During this program, I have experienced several trials, but none so daunting as questioning my own ethics and morality when faced with a questionable situation. The material served as a guide and a friend, if you will, to safely lead me where I should be and where I truly want to be. This place is where I find my true self, what I value, what is important to me, and what is meaningful. I have reached, as a result of this program, a greater level of morality and understanding than I ever thought possible, and a level of self-awareness that will serve me well for the rest of my life.
Carucci, Ron, (2016). Harvard Business Review. Why ethical people make unethical choices. Retrieved from: https://hbr.org/2016/12/why-ethical-people-make-unethical-choices
Commission for Racial Justice. (1987). Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States: A National Report on Racial and Socio-Economic Characteristics of Communities with Hazardous Waste Sites.
Dicum, G. (2006).United Church of Christ. Meet Robert Bullard, the Father of Environmental Justice. Retrieved from http://www.grist.org (Links to an external site.)
Goldsmith, S. & Eggers, W.D. (2004). Governing by Network. Washington D.C.: Brookings Institute Press.
Harrington, S. (2009). Bullard, R. (2000). Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class, and Environmental Quality. 3rd Edition. Westview Press.
Human Rights Commission. 2003. Environmental Racism: A Status Report & Recommendations. City and County of San Francisco.
Johnson, C. E. (2015). Meeting the Ethical Challenges of Leadership: Casting Light or Shadow (5 ed.).
Team Sweat. (2011). Nike sweatshops: behind the swoosh. Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5uYCWVfuPQ
Salzman, J. & Thompson, B.H. (2007). Environmental Law and Policy. New York: Foundation Press.