Business Ethics

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1) There are many types of responsibilities: parental responsibility, legal responsibility, and civil responsibility. Every person is responsible for something.

Causal responsibility is a part of both moral and legal responsibilities. Causal series may be very long. For example, if a manager commands something, and workers do it in sequence, all of those people will be responsible for the result of the work. However, the grades of their responsibilities will be different.

Moral responsibility of a certain person for an action is considered to exist when there are several conditions for it:

  • The action is done by this person; he/she is a cause of this action;
  • The action is done consciously;
  • The action is done voluntarily.

Doing something voluntarily and consciously means doing it purposely. It means that nobody forced a person to do something. There are different levels of consciousness, premeditation and responsibility (George).

Moral responsibility can be reduced in different ways. There are several types of excusing conditions for moral responsibility. These conditions are such that decrease moral responsibility. They are connected with the terms of doing or refusing to do a moral responsible action. There are three types of excluding conditions according to three circumstances of their origin:

  • Conditions that prevent doing an action. An action should be possible and be done, in other case a person would not be responsible for it. One should not be responsible for something that he/she was not able to do. For example, someone is sinking. If a person is not able to swim, he/she cannot be responsible for not saving the sinking one;
  • Conditions that decrease or eliminate necessary knowledge. There can be two excluding conditions related to knowledge: excusable ignorance and rude ignorance. For example, many scientists took part in developing nuclear bomb. However, they should not be responsible for its implementing. Many of them did not know what they actually were doing, as the information was confidential;
  • Conditions that decrease or eliminate necessary freedom. There are four types of such conditions: (a) inability to do an alternate action, when a person did not have other choice what to do; (b) absence of self-control, for example, when a person does something in faint: (c) external forcing; (d) internal forcing (can be related to certain illnesses or can refer to healthy people in normal state).

Excluding conditions play a weighty role in moral responsibility and moral accountability. For example, if a person was really unable to do something, he/she is not responsible for that. However, moral accountability is different. A person must provide moral accountability for all his/her actions, even if there were excusing conditions. Moral accountability can be moral or legal. It means a person’s readiness to be morally accountable for his/her actions; even though, he/she is not morally responsible for them (George).

2) There is a wide critique of Capitalist economic systems by Marxists. According to them, Capitalism has many virtues. Marx stated that Capitalism was a necessary stage of economic development. However, he thought that Capitalism in future would be exchanged by a higher stage of Communism. There are three main statements of Marxists critique:

  • Exploitation of labor force. This criticism states that a worker is not paid all he/she earned in fact. Marxists think that inherently immoral, because it cannot exist without “hired slavery”. An entrepreneur always tries to increase his/her income. To do this, he/she pays workers less or makes them work more. However, such criticism does not work in modern economy where salaries have a tendency to grow. Marxists did not have success in adaptation their theory to new economic conditions;
  • People’s disposal. Marx though that Capitalism is immoral because it disposes people, divides them into two antagonistic groups, makes workers foolish. To Marxists’ opinion, Capitalism does not consider common workers as individuals. People cannot control the government and its decisions. Workers are always in controversy with businessmen. Disposal exists, while private property and labor division exists. However, such criticism does not work in modern democratic countries where common people take part in elections and influence state’s policy and where the work is less monotonous and more creative than it was before;
  • Mercenary interests. Marxists state that Capitalism protects the interests of a small group of people. Economic tendencies lead to collective property, but private owners in Capitalism protect their private ownership. Therefore, Capitalism is immoral because it prevents moving to the highest level of economic development – Socialism. However, this statement does not work properly in modern democracies, where all people are protected and have equal rights.

Capitalism provides a moral defense of its system in different ways. Of course, Capitalism is not perfect; however, it is not immoral. Moreover, many scientists state that Capitalism is the most moral economic system.

Capitalism defenders state that it provides people’s freedom and protects it. Freedom is always considered moral. Capitalism provides a wide range of choices; and those choices are equal for all people. Freedom exists in the economy, too. Customers buy what they want, and by that they form producer’s supply. Producers compete in equal conditions supported by government. Not all of them are successful, however, it is considered moral, because only the best ones become successful.

Capitalism defenders state that only with free economy a state and its citizens can be politically free. In addition, Capitalism encourages efficiency, which is positive for society, economy and nature.

Even Marxists agree that under Capitalism numerous kinds of goods and services are invented and produced. The standards of living are increasing all the time in capitalistic countries. Nowadays, the poorest people live better than rich people lived a hundred years ago. Capitalistic countries not only take care of their own citizens, but also do that for foreign countries due to exporting of new technologies and know-hows.

Of course, not all people are equal in their wealth. However, a rich businessman usually helps common people by employing them or by producing goods and services.

There are no perfect economic systems in the world. Capitalism is not perfect, too. However, it is constantly being improved. To see the benefits of capitalism, it must be compared not to theoretical Socialism, but to real Socialism and Communism in real countries. It is clear that the living standards in the USA and other developed capitalistic countries were much higher than those in socialistic countries.

3) The problem of public corporate disclosure is widely discussed. Many corporate leaders state that they must not disclose all corporate information to their stockholders, as they might pass corporate information to the competitors. However, such statement does not correspond with shareholders’ right to gain all necessary corporate information. Public information is different for different users.

According to the rules, information should be provided to shareholders, as well as potential shareholders and investors. Such information should be public. In order to decide investing in the company, one should know something about its financial state, assets, dividends, operation and production, growing tendencies.

Public information for shareholders and investors is usually financial. Defenders of such practice state that financial information is sufficient to plan investing in corporation and to be sure that the investments will be profitable and safe. The defenders also state that the broader is corporate information, the less clear it is for the common shareholder. However, shareholders should know not only financial information, but also, for example, information about the members of the board of directors.

Workers should know more. They should get sufficient information about working conditions. They should also know about moral principles of the corporation and the discrimination in it.

Government should know if the corporation performs legally. Though, the government gets more information than common people; sometimes it is difficult to know everything about large corporations (George).

Misappropriation is a practice of theft and using by other firms some information from an enterprise. The problem of protecting information becomes more and more serious nowadays.

The main source of information is publicly disclosed information. Information can be collected from reports, articles, interviews, advertising etc. Such collection is considered moral and legal.

The other source of misappropriation is receiving information from corporation’s workers. Many countries use it by inviting their competitors’ workers to work for them or by buying commercial information from the workers. For instance, China widely uses “spy workers” to receive necessary information from American companies.

There are also many immoral ways of receiving corporate information. They include phone bugging, direct thefts or involving reconnaissance agencies.

Misappropriation is related to insider trading. Insider trading means that people use insider information that they know to benefit from it. For example, a worker knows some information. He/she can use is for own benefits, or he/she can sell it to other people for money or a reward.

There are several arguments for insider trading. The main of them states that insider trading can be beneficial to those who know insider information. For example, people may benefit from buying shares if they have insider information about their growth in the nearest future.

However, insider trading is widely criticized. First of all, workers are trusted and provided with insider information. It can be called immoral when they use this information for their own benefits or sell it to others. It means workers’ dishonesty and disregard to the rules of corporation where they work.

Another argument against insider trading is that insider trading is immoral. In the competitive capitalistic market, all participants should be in equal conditions. However, insider trading makes these conditions unequal, because a person knows more than others know and uses this knowledge to benefit (George).

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