Ethics in Business Decision Making

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The field of ethics (or moral philosophy) involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior (Fieser, 2009). Many of the decisions one faces in a typical day could result in a multitude of outcomes. At times it can be hard to determine whether or not the decision you are making is an ethical one. Many philosophies have been devised to illustrate the different ways of evaluating moral decisions. Normative ethics focuses on assessing right and wrong behavior. This may involve reinforcing positive habits, duties we should follow, or the consequences of our behavior (Fieser, 2009). Of the many normative philosophies two stand out to be most accepted; teleology and deontology. Although they oppose each other in how actions are evaluated, they uphold many similar characteristics under the surface.

Normative ethics involves either a single rule or a set of principles to evaluate moral conduct. Teleology stipulates that acts are morally acceptable if they produce some desired result. Deontology on the other hand, focuses on the preservation of individual rights and on the intentions associated with a particular behavior. In summation, teleological philosophies consider the ends, or consequences, associated with an action whereas deontological philosophies consider the means (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2011). This is why teleology is commonly referred to as Consequentialism. In addition to the rule, deontology also cites individual absolute rights: freedom of conscience, freedom of consent, freedom of privacy, freedom of speech, and due process. Deontologist employ this set of freedoms because they believe certain rights should never be violated even if it is to produce a greater good (Ferre...

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