The Ethics of Business: Obligations, Ideals, and Consequences
1. Ethics: Obligations, Ideals, Effects
Ethics is the study of morality, and specifically of how we ought to behave. It is concerned with questions about what is right or wrong, good or bad. We can think about these questions in two different ways:
– What are our obligations? That is, what are the things we ought to do?
– What are our ideals? That is, what are the things we should strive to achieve?
Obligations are considered to be those aspects of human life that bind us. As we all live within a definite society, we should live according to the rules of this society. We have an obligation to obey the law, for example. We also have an obligation not to hurt other people, or to lie to them.
Ideals, on the other hand, are those things that we should strive for, even if we may never achieve them completely. An ideal might be something like truthfulness, or fairness. We can never be perfectly truthful or fair, but we can always try to be more so.
It is important to realize that our obligations and ideals are not always the same. There are some cases where our ideals conflict with our obligations. For example, it might be my ideal to help other people as much as possible. But if I have an obligation to obey the law, then there might be times when I cannot help people as much as I would like because doing so would break the law.
2. What Are Obligations?
As we have seen, our obligations are those things that we ought to do. But where do these obligations come from? There are three main sources of obligation:
– Moral principles
Laws are a system of rules that a society has decided everyone should obey. They are usually written down in a book called a constitution or code of laws. In most societies, there is a government which enforces the laws and punishes people who break them. In some societies, such as many tribes and clans, there may not be any formal laws, but there will still be social rules which everyone is expected to obey.
Contracts are agreements between two or more people. A contract can either be written down or just agreed verbally. When you buy something in a shop, for example, you have made a contract with the shopkeeper – you have agreed to pay a certain amount of money in return for receiving the goods you have chosen. If either party does not keep their side of the bargain (for example, if you do not pay the money), then they have broken the contract and may be liable for damages (such as having to pay back what they owe plus interest). Contracts can also be made between companies, such as when one company buys goods from another company. In this case, the contract will usually be written down in detail in order to avoid any misunderstanding later on.
13 Moral principles are those ideas about what is right or wrong that we learn from our families, friends, religious leaders, schoolteachers etc. They are usually based on tradition and custom rather than being written down anywhere. Many people believe that there are universal moral principles which apply to all human beings regardless of where they live or what culture they belong to.
3. The Three Main Types of Obligations
We have seen that there are three main types of obligations: laws, contracts, and moral principles. But within each of these categories, there are further subdivisions. Let us now take a closer look at each of these types of obligation.
– Legal obligations
– Contractual obligations
– Moral obligations
Legal obligations are those things we are obliged to do by law. For example, we are legally obliged to pay tax to the government. We are also legally obliged not to break the law ourselves – for example, by driving our car too fast or by carrying a weapon in public without a license. If we do break the law, we may be fined, imprisoned, or both. In some cases, we may even be put to death.
Contractual obligations are those things we have agreed to do in a contract. For example, if we buy a car from a garage, we have contractually obliged ourselves to pay the agreed price. We may also have contractually obliged ourselves to carry out certain maintenance tasks on the car, such as changing the oil regularly. If we do not keep our side of the bargain, the garage may be entitled to take legal action against us in order to get their money.
Moral obligations are those things we believe we ought to do because they are right or because they are good for society as a whole. For example, most people believe it is morally wrong to steal from others. And many people believe it is our moral duty to help those who are less fortunate than ourselves, such as the sick or the poor. Moral obligations are usually not enforceable in law, but they can be very powerful nonetheless.
Duties are a special type of moral obligation which is often connected with our work or our relationships with other people. For example, parents have a duty to care for their children, and teachers have a duty to teach their students well. Doctors have a duty to care for their patients, and soldiers have a duty to defend their country. We usually think of duties as being things we ought to do regardless of whether we want to or not – that is, even if doing them might be difficult or unpleasant. This is why duties are often called “unavoidable obligations”.
Rights are another special type of moral obligation which is connected with our relationships with other people. Unlike duties, rights are things that other people ought to do for us rather than things we ought to do for them. For example, parents have a right to see their children grow up, and children have a right to be cared for by their parents. Employees have a right to fair treatment from their employers, and citizens have a right to live in peace and safety. Just as duties can be thought of as “unavoidable obligations”, rights can be thought of as “unavoidable claims” that other people have on us.
14. 4. How Do We Decide What Is Right and Wrong? paperhelpers org review
When we are trying to decide what is right or wrong, we usually rely on our intuition – that is, our “gut feeling” about what is the right thing to do. But sometimes our intuition can let us down, and we may need to use our reason to figure things out.
There are two main ways of thinking about what is right and wrong:
– Deontological ethics
Deontological ethics is the view that some things are intrinsically right or wrong, regardless of whether they lead to good or bad consequences. For example, it might be intrinsically wrong to steal, even if doing so would lead to good consequences such as helping a needy person. Similarly, it might be intrinsically right to keep a promise, even if doing so would lead to bad consequences such as getting into trouble.
Utilitarianism is the view that the right thing to do is always the thing that will lead to the greatest good for the greatest number of people. That is, we should always do whatever will produce the most happiness for the most people. This might mean, for example, that it is better to break a promise if doing so will produce more happiness than keeping it. Or it might mean that it is better to steal if doing so will produce more happiness than not stealing.
5. Moral Ideals in Business
Businesses are usually set up to make money for their owners. But this does not mean that businesses can do whatever they like in order to make money. In most societies, there are laws which govern what businesses can and cannot do. And in addition to these legal restrictions, businesses also have moral obligations.
The most important moral obligation for businesses is to act in a way that benefits society as a whole. That is, businesses should aim to produce the greatest good for the greatest number of people. This might mean, for example, that businesses should try to produce goods and services that people really need or want, rather than goods and services that people do not need or want. It might also mean that businesses should try to employ as many people as possible, or to pay their employees a fair wage.
There are many different ways of thinking about what the “greatest good” is. But one important factor is always the happiness of the people affected by the business’s actions. If a business’s actions will make people happy, then that is a good thing. If a business’s actions will make people unhappy, then that is a bad thing.
It is important to realize that businesses are not always able to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number of people. This is because businesses often have to make trade-offs between different goals. For example, a business might have to choose between making a profit and paying its employees a fair wage. Or a business might have to choose between selling a product that is good for the environment and selling a product that is cheaper for consumers. In these cases, businesses will need to decide which goal is more important: making money or benefiting society.
6. The Consequences of Business Decisions
All businesses have an impact on society, both positive and negative. But some businesses have a much greater impact than others. For example, companies that produce weapons or cigarettes have a much greater negative impact on society than companies that produce food or clothes.
The reason why some businesses have a greater impact than others is because of the consequences of their actions. The consequences of a business’s actions are the good or bad things that happen as a result of those actions. For example, if a company produces a new type of mobile phone, the positive consequences might be that people can communicate more easily, or that they can access information more quickly. The negative consequences might be that people become addicted to their phones, or that they start to value material things more than human relationships.
It is important to realize that the consequences of a business’s actions are not always foreseeable. That is, sometimes businesses do things which have unintended consequences – good or bad. For example, a company might introduce a new product which turns out to be very popular, but which also has negative consequences such as increased traffic congestion or environmental pollution. Or a company might close down a factory which leads to job losses, but which also has positive consequences such as lower prices for consumers.
In conclusion, it is clear that businesses have both legal and moral obligations. But it is also clear that these obligations are sometimes in conflict with each other. When this happens, businesses need to decide which is more important