Should A Company Water Down Ethics In Order To Get A Profitable Outcome  Term Paper

Length: 4 pages Sources: 3 Subject: Business - Ethics Type: Term Paper Paper: #79473217 Related Topics: Virtue Ethics, Water, John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism
Excerpt from Term Paper :

¶ … Ethical Decision

What would you do?

In the first place, lives are more valuable -- far more valuable -- than jobs. True, without a job many adult individuals would suffer, but given the possibility that the bug in the prototype that Occidental Engineering was producing could cause an accident in the skies and a resulting loss of many lives, the best course for the project manager is to listen to engineer Wayne Jones and take the ethical course of action. This paper reviews three ethical theories, one of which will be determined to be the most appropriate for this dilemma: Virtue Ethics, Deontology, and Utilitarianism.

Virtue Ethics

According to author Barbara MacKinnon, Virtue Ethics asks "How we ought to be" rather than "What we ought to do" (MacKinnon, et al. 2015). Virtue Ethics deals with the traits of personal character (habits, tendencies, and disposition) that make a person "good"; in fact the author asserts that when an individual has "unusually well-developed" traits (that are mentioned earlier in this sentence) that person is likely to be thought of as a "hero or even as a saint" (MacKinnon, 91).

MacKinnon quotes from an article by Susan Wolf which explains that a "moral saint" is a person whose "every action is as good as possible" and that person is as "morally worthy as can be" (91). That morally worthy individual may not be happy, though, because happiness and pleasure are two different things; but notwithstanding that a virtuous person may not be blessed with constant happiness, virtues like "courage, loyalty, honesty, and fairness" matter more at the end of the day than pleasure and happiness. Aristotle wrote that there are two virtues: intellectual virtues (virtues of the mind -- understanding and reasoning) and moral virtues (practicing honesty, courageousness brings moral virtues) (MacKinnon, 92).

Professor Charles D. Kay echoes what MacKinnon wrote about virtue ethics: it relates to honesty, loyalty, courage and generosity. But Kay adds that for Aristotle (considered the author of the main ideas in virtue ethics) courage is manifested by the person by "…exhibiting the right amount of a particular

...

2).

Professor Torbjorn Tannsjo explains that virtue ethics embraces the "general traits of character," and traits of character can be learned, and they can be developed through education and through training (Tannsjo, 2008). Traits of personality cannot easily be developed through training because they are "…more or less fixed through our biology" (Tannsjo, 91). What makes virtue ethicists unique among ethical scholars is that they "define certain character traits…and provide us with lists of those traits" (courage, et al.).

Utilitarianism

"An action is right only if in the situation there was no alternative to it which would have resulted in a greater sum total of welfare in the world" (Tannsjo, 18). In other words, an action that produces the most happiness (Tannsjo prefers to use "welfare") for the most people is the right action. Tannsjo also emphasizes as part of the utilitarian ethic that if an action is not right, it is wrong, plain and simple. If an action is not wrong, then it is right. This seems overly simplistic but it is part of what John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham put forward as utilitarianism.

Professor Kay takes a slightly different approach. Actions are "right" to the degree that they "…tend to promote the greatest good for the greatest number" of people (p. 2). The question then becomes, according to Kay, "what constitutes the 'greatest good'"? Kay notes that utilitarianism is a "simple theory" which can be attacked with logic. He outlines several objections to utilitarianism: a) one can't judge the outcome of an action beforehand, nor can one know who will be affected; b) it is a time-consuming process to determine what is absolutely right, and frequently there isn't adequate time to make that determination; and c) the utilitarian ethical theory does not acknowledge that some rights of individuals might be violated in order that a greater…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

Kay, C.D. (2004). Ethical Theory / Ethical Updates. Wofford College Department of Philosophy. Retrieved January 31, 2015, from http://sites.wofford.edu.

MacKinnon, B., and Fiala, A. (2015). Ethics: Theory and Contemporary Issues, Concise

Edition. Independence IN: Cengage Learning.

Tannsjo, T. (2008). Understanding Ethics: An Introduction to Moral Theory. Edinburgh,


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