What are some Ethical Theories used in Organizations?
Ethical theories lay down various perspectives from which individuals consider when coming up with decisions therefore these theories are a fundamental part when it comes to making decisions in situations where ethics are involved. Each ethical theory puts emphasis on a different point. For example, each theory highlights a different style of decision-making. For one to clearly understand these theories, it is important to note that different individuals make different decisions even though they are using the same information or using the same rules. Ethical theories aim to provide guidance for moral decision-making.
In this assignment, we will briefly introduce four major ethical theories that are relevant to organizational ethics. They can be divided into four broad categories namely; deontology, utilitarianism, rights, and virtues. Deontology theories focus more on the essential rightness or wrongness of people’s actions, regardless of their outcomes whereas utilitarianism theories evaluate actions based on their consequences, such as happiness, welfare, or justice. Utilitarians believe that a decision that benefits most people is one that is ethically right.
There are also Ethical theories based on rights and these rights are recognized by a society of people and protected by the lawmakers and the people in the society and they are given the highest priority in the society. Therefore, they are considered to be ethically correct and legal since a large population approves them.
The virtue ethical theory judges a person by his/her character and holds that the right action is the one that expresses or cultivates certain moral qualities or virtues. It holds that it takes the person’s morals, reputation, and motivation to conclude whether their behavior is ethical or not. [Chonko, L., 2012].
What are some Ethical Theories used in Organizations? Case Study
Key Learning Outcomes
- Identify and explain the main ethical theories, such as utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics, and how they apply to organizational issues.
- Analyze and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each ethical theory, and how they compare and contrast with each other.
- Apply the ethical theories to real-world cases and scenarios, and propose and justify ethical solutions or recommendations.
Ethics refers to moral values that regulate an organization. The term ethics points out how organizations manage themselves with respect to universal moral behaviors and actions. It's about choosing the right action. Ethics are vital to all disciplines of a business such as accounting, human resource management, sales, marketing, etc. Ethics are vital in the world of businesses because they prescribe the conduct to be followed while doing daily activities. Important to note is that ethics are important not only to businesses but also to every aspect of life because it is the foundation of a civilized society. A business or society that lacks ethical principles is bound to fail sooner or later.
Ethical theories provide frameworks and criteria for evaluating and justifying moral actions. Different ethical theories may emphasize different aspects of morality, such as the consequences, intentions, rights, or virtues of the agents involved. Each theory has its own pros and cons, and none of them can claim to be the conclusive solution to ethical dilemmas in society. But, these theories can help individuals to clarify values, principles, and reasons, and to evaluate the moral implications of our decisions and actions. [Chonko, L., 2012].
In this assignment, we will briefly introduce four major ethical theories that are relevant to organizational ethics: utilitarianism, deontology, justice, and virtue ethics.
Utilitarianism refers to an ethical theory that emphasizes that conscience is best determined by concentrating on the consequences of the activities and choices executed by an organization. Utilitarianism denotes a responsibility for businesses to comply with their activities so that they make the most of happiness and reduce the suffering in the organization. Therefore, utilitarianism provides a source for disapproving business behaviors that cause damage to any person. Therefore, utilitarians evaluate actions by analyzing the benefits and harms for everyone involved. Utilitarianism provides that a person should act or opt to do what he or she wants save if the preference is prevailed over by others.
On the contrary, utilitarianism may also be negative which necessitates us to support the least amount of evil so as to prevent a large number of people from suffering.
Deontology is an ethical theory that provides that the right action is the one that abides by certain universal moral rules. Deontologists consider that the moral value of a person’s decision depends on its obedience to these rules, not its outcomes. Therefore, they evaluate decisions by checking whether they respect the rights and obligations of all affected parties. [Alexander, L. and Moore, M., 2007. Deontological ethics].
Virtue ethics is an ethical theory that holds that the right action is the one that articulates certain moral virtues. Virtue ethicists believe that the moral value of a decision depends on its reflection of the character or personality of the agent. Therefore, virtue ethicists evaluate actions by examining whether they demonstrate or enhance virtues such as honesty, courage, compassion, wisdom, and integrity.
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