BarCharts QuickStudy Business Ethics by Inc. BarCharts

By Inc. BarCharts

Business Ethics

This entire advisor covers all points of industrial ethics.

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Horvath (1995) makes a similar point. We should be careful not to take the point too far. I can often know by observation that Jones is angry, but Jones can sometimes conceal his anger. But not always; and in any case, it is a mistake to narrow the field of observables to those things and events that can be easily observed without inference or knowledge of background. Some will find talk about Jones’s virtues rather than about his doing the right thing more credible as well. I may be something of a skeptic about morality; so if you tell me that Jones is a moral person, I may wonder whether you and I have the same moral standards, or whether there are any that are solidly enough grounded to guide us all.

On the contrary, Aristotle says that ethics is not like geometry. It is more like medicine (at least the medicine of Aristotle’s day) or comedy, he says (NE IV 8 1028a23–34); and I would add management or performance evaluation. There are rules, but they are not as definite as those of geometry (NE I 7 1098a29–34), and they are more difficult to apply to the real world. You have to develop a feeling for it. But this does not imply relativism: that management is unlike geometry clearly does not mean that there are no right or wrong answers to questions about 6 7 Kohlberg’s (1981) famous account of moral development takes universal principles to be the highest stage of morality.

I might say “Smith left some ink stains on a piece of paper,” when the paper was a contract and the ink stains were her signature and Smith was the chief executive officer (CEO) of the company in whose name she thereby made a deal or committed a crime. My statement would be inadequate and misleading. Much the same is true of other actions performed in the corporate line of duty. “I was only following orders” is not an honest statement, and not an excuse. If you are playing a certain kind of role, what looks like your individual action may in fact be an action of a community or a corporation, but the setting does not absolve you of all personal responsibility.

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