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ETHICAL THEORY - UTILITARIANISM AND RIGHTS, JUSTICE AND CONTEMPORARY APPROACHES

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Introduction Moral philosophy or ethics involves the defense, recommendation and systematization of the concepts of moral behavior. Ethics has three operational divisions, which include normative, meta-ethics and applied ethics. Meta-ethics refers to the theoretical references and meanings concerning moral propositions and the determination of their true value. Normative ethics concerns the practical meaning and determination of the moral course of action. Applied ethics targets the moral outcomes and the achievement of moral situations. In business, ethics function or occur as applied or professional ethics. They assess and evaluate ethical principles or problems within the business environment. Business ethics apply to all conducts of business aspects, and they have relevance to organizational or individual conduct. They have both descriptive and normative characteristics.1 As a career specialization or corporate practice and objective, business ethics have normative characteristics. Therefore, in business, it is vital to comprehend ethics and business ethics in addition to justice, rights and contemporary approaches. In order to comprehend business ethics, it is crucial to apply descriptive methods during the analysis of business behavior. The quantity and range of business ethical problems and issues reflect the association or interaction of profit maximization behaviors and noneconomic concerns. Most organizations have adopted ethical approaches and principles as they address and

Dion, Michel. Are Ethical Theories Relevant For Ethical Leadership. Leadership And Organization Development Journal. (2012). Vol. 33, (1). Page 4-24.

3 prevent ethical issues.2 The emergence of large organizations and corporations with restricted sensitivity and relationships, with their immediate community, accelerated the need and development of formal ethical regimes. Organizations face numerous ethical issues with varying degrees depending on the scope of the business organization. Some of the business ethical issues that business organizations face include the use of forced and child labor, ignoring the health, environmental and safety concerns, and the violation of the rights of the workers.3 Other issues include unethical issues in the supply chain, contraction, sales and distribution of merchandise. An individuals ethical behavior depends on numerous factors. This includes the ability of the individual to recognize ethical or moral issues within the organization and make ethical judgments. The ethical behavior will also be influenced by the ability of the individual to establish moral intent and engage in acceptable behavior.4 Additionally the age and cultural characteristics play immense roles in the development of ethical behaviors by an individual. The individuals education, experiences, personal values and integrity help in molding the ethical behaviors.
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McDonald, Gael. Ethical Relativism vs. Absolutism: Research Implications. European Business Review. (2012). Vol. 22, (4). Page 446-464.

Winstanley, Diana. Woodall, Jean. & Heery, Edmund. Business Ethics And Human Resource Management: Themes And Issues. Personnel Review. Vol. 25, (6). Page 5-12.

Dion, Michel. Are Ethical Theories Relevant For Ethical Leadership. Leadership And Organization Development Journal. (2012). Vol. 33, (1). Page 4-24.

According to Kohlberg, an individual goes through a structured moral development in which the first stage involves the comprehension of the punishment that accompanies unethical behaviors. During this stage, the individual develops an attitude of avoiding the punishments through adherence to ethical behaviors. The second stage involves the performance of the right roles in society through the ability of the individual to meet expectations and fulfill duties while upholding the law.5 The final step involves the recognition of shared rights, standards and duties through a sense of relativity of rules and democracy. This step also involves the ability of the individual to select universal principles. In an attempt to deal with ethical issues, organizations have established ethical codes that dictate the conducts of individuals and the organization. These codes have importance in the identification and management of unethical behaviors within the organization. The codes define the principles to be followed and upheld within the organization. They also lay out practical guidelines for the organizational workers to follow.6 In order for the development of appropriate codes of conduct, the codes should consider flexibility versus prescription and the outcomes of the two. The codes should also consider possible clash of values and processes for resolution of the unethical behavior.

Winstanley, Diana. Woodall, Jean. & Heery, Edmund. Business Ethics And Human Resource Management: Themes And Issues. Personnel Review. Vol. 25, (6). Page 5-12.

Winstanley, Diana. Woodall, Jean. & Heery, Edmund. Business Ethics And Human Resource Management: Themes And Issues. Personnel Review. Vol. 25, (6). Page 5-12.

Utilitarianism lies in the theories of normative ethics, and it dictates that the appropriate course of actions should have beneficial effects on the masses and maximize happiness. Utilitarian approaches face challenges from judgments concerning the right course of action. This exists because humans have different perceptions of the wrong or right in society. Humans also perceive conduct and behavior differently because of the differences in judgment.7 In order to make conclusive judgments, it is crucial for humans to grasp the values and norms that facilitate desirable societal functioning and human relationships. These are crucial in the process of making and defending decisions and comprehending challenges and criticism. In human interactions, people have entitlements or rights. These are required in order for an establishment of appropriate, ethical interactions and judgments. Consequently, humans should have an obligation of respecting others rights, and form authorities for protecting their rights in case of impediments. Utilitarianism approaches ethics through its reductionist and quantitative characteristics.8 According to this theory, the worth of a utilitarian approach is determined after an evaluation of the outcomes of the action. Justice refers to the treatment of others and the perception of their behavior, ideas, principles and character. As a result, justice leads to the treatment of people differently. Justice focuses on the outcome through distributive justice and processes through procedural justice.9
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Hinman, Lawrence. Utilitarianism. University Of San Diego. (2010). Page 4-9.

Hinman, Lawrence. Utilitarianism. University Of San Diego. (2010). Page 4-9.

Wooten, Kevin. White, Louis. Linking ODs Philosophy With Justice Theory: Postmodern

Implications. Journal Of Organizational Change Management. Vol. 12, (1). Page 7-12.

Justice concerns the rightful treatment of people and the ability to ensure that situations or conditions are fair for humans. Theories of justice exist, and they include the egalitarian perspective, which emphasizes on equality and sees deviations as unjust. The utilitarian view considers justice as just with the maximization of good for society. The libertarian approach considers interference of other peoples freedom as unjust.10 According to this theory, people should have the freedom of making choices. An essential representation of justice and unethical instances in society lie in the global distribution of wealth. In this instance, the top five high-income earners take 82.7% of the total global income. The lowest income earners take 1.4% of the total global income. The developed countries have only 24% of the global population, yet they take up at least 80% of the global, essential needs.11 An application of justice in this case shows that the individuals in the lowincome brackets or nations do not receive fair treatment. This is because they have inadequate basic facilities and they have low capabilities of meeting their essential needs.

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Wooten, Kevin. White, Louis. Linking ODs Philosophy With Justice Theory: Postmodern

Implications. Journal Of Organizational Change Management. Vol. 12, (1). Page 7-12.

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Wooten, Kevin. White, Louis. Linking ODs Philosophy With Justice Theory: Postmodern

Implications. Journal Of Organizational Change Management. Vol. 12, (1). Page 7-12.

Bibliography Dion, Michel. Are Ethical Theories Relevant For Ethical Leadership. Leadership And Organization Development Journal. (2012). Vol. 33, (1). Page 4-24. Hinman, Lawrence. Utilitarianism. University Of San Diego. (2010). Page 4-9. McDonald, Gael. Ethical Relativism vs. Absolutism: Research Implications. European Business Review. (2012). Vol. 22, (4). Page 446-464. Odom, Lamar. Owen, Richard. Valley, Amina. & Burrell, Phillip. Obamacare: An Ethical Analysis Of His Leadership And The Health Reform Initiative. Leadership In Health Services. (2011). Vol. 24, (4). Page 325-336. Posner, Beth. The Ethics of Library Resources Sharing In the Digital Age. Interlending and Document Supply. (2012). Vol. 40, (2). Page 119-124. Stanton, Paul. Users Rights to Published Accounting Information: Nature, Justification and Implications. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal. (2010). Vol. 10, (5). Page 684-701. Winstanley, Diana. Woodall, Jean. & Heery, Edmund. Business Ethics And Human Resource Management: Themes And Issues. Personnel Review. Vol. 25, (6). Page 5-12. Wooten, Kevin. White, Louis. Linking ODs Philosophy With Justice Theory: Postmodern Implications. Journal Of Organizational Change Management. Vol. 12, (1). Page 7-12.