Many ethicists have asserted that the rightness or fairness of an action can be determined by looking at its results or consequences. Provide an example of an action in a business context, and a...

Many ethicists have asserted that the rightness or fairness of an action can be determined by looking at its results or consequences. Provide an example of an action in a business context, and a possible result, and analyze whether it was right or fair.

Kant’s theory of duty-based ethics suggests that one should act only on rules that one would be willing to see everyone follow. In the business context, utilize this principle to provide an example of a rule that you would want all employees to follow. Provide an example of a rule that you would not want all employees to follow. Discuss your rationale for each.

Provide an example of a legal right provided to employees and discuss whether this right enforces a moral right or obligation.

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Business ethics can progress along a teleological path of understanding.  Teleological ethics is guided by "rightness of an act" as being determined by its end result.  The outcome or the end result is what is examined in the teleologically ethical path.  For example, LINDT Chocolates affirms a stance against child labor practices in its chocolate production:  "LINDT strongly condemns child labor and remains committed to eradicating it from cocoa production... LINDT has initiated a number of important steps within in its cocoa supply chain... to address this highly complex issue." LINDT's actions can be seen as right based on its end result. LINDT takes this stand because it perceives child labor as something that detracts from the "highest ethical and moral standards."  LINDT might be operating from a Pragmatic point of view, seeing their stance against child labor as an approach or a plan of action in a "complicated issue." A Utilitarian approach might also be seen in the LINDT stance against child labor, seeking to maximize happiness and minimize suffering.  The ethical stance that LINDT articulates against child labor can be seen as "right" in upholding specific tenets in each paradigm. Through this, LINDT's stance against child labor can also be seen as a fair ethical approach. If LINDT betrays its word, then it can be seen as being unethical because of how it violates the tenets of both philosophical applications of a teleological approach. 

In terms of an ethical principle that Kant would suggest that all employees should follow, transparent communication should be an ethical practice that can be applicable to all employees.  Clear and open communication in which "important information is not withheld" is an intrinsic good.  It would meet the Kantian standards of the categorical imperative.  If everyone in an organization openly communicated, greater understanding would emerge. Workers and management in an organization would want to know pertinent information.  Open communication treats people as ends in of themselves and not means to an ends, ensuring that intrinsic good in a universal kingdom of ends is maintained.  

An idea that Kant would not favor if all employees embraced it would be the unlimited maximizing of individual profit. This moves into a domain where people are used as means to an end, and places individual benefit over other visions of individual notions of good.  If the universal law was to maximize individual profit, little trust can emerge.  There can be no universal kingdom of ends when individual profit dominates over all because all individual "intrinsic good" is replaced with a dominant extrinsic reality.

Sexual harassment is defined as "unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature."  Legislation that protects against this represents protection of a moral right. If "moral right" can be understood as what most reasonable people would see as "acceptable and good behavior," then legislation that bans sexual harassment upholds it.  People in the workplace should have a right to be left alone from "unwelcome sexual advances."  In both the deontological as well as the teleological ethical conditions, the legal enforcement of sexual harassment laws can be deemed as upholding a moral right or obligation. Sexual harassment violates Kantian moral imperatives as well as consequentialist ethical positions such as Pragmatism and Utilitarianism.