Virtue Ethics

Virtue Ethics

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Sally has obviously damaged the company, so her actions will definitely require an appropriate form of punishment. However, there are several factors that have to be taken in account. For example, Sally was a loyal, responsible, and fair worker during the last 20 years, so any extreme form of punishment could damage both Sally and the company. On the other hand, an inappropriate response from the management could encourage her deviant behavior towards the company in the future. With several conflicting factors apparent in this case, working out an appropriate solution is difficulty. The virtue ethics position allows several interpretations because it focuses on the character as the main motive that defines ethical behavior. Unlike deontology that relates moral actions to rules or pragmatism that considers social context related to ethical behavior, virtue ethics approaches the issue based on individual factors.
Although virtue ethics is deeply divided in interpreting the virtue of different characteristics and the morality of their manifestations in society, it consists of six essential rules that can be found in all forms of virtue ethics. According to one of those rules, an action is morally correct if a person with a virtuous character would perform the same action in the same circumstances (Oakly & Cocking, 2004), and that rule could explain Sally's case as morally correct action. However, several people could argue that virtue ethics should be practiced without harming others. While Sally is assisting a man in need, she is also working against the company policy. It has been argued that business environments can provide a suitable environment to practice virtues, but the opposition states that it is closer to deontological requirements for following rules that are not necessarily based on personal characters and virtues (Moore, 2002).
Another division found in virtue ethics is the development and manifestation of virtues. While several philosophers stress the importance of developing virtues in the character, so these virtues can manifest later in actions, other philosophers claim virtues should not be developed subjectively and generalize their development based on the entire society (Oakly & Cocking, 2004). In other words, it is possible to argue that Sally did not develop the virtue of justice and equality because she worked against existing policies and treated one client differently. In this scenario, she did not display loyalty to the company, but it is possible that her compassion overpowered her sense of logical reasoning.

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I would not question her character's virtues or describe them as subjective because I believe short-term actions should not define long-term expectations. Furthermore, disputes between employers and employees can be resolved creatively only through virtue ethics.
Despite many divisions in virtue ethics, scientific research explains that actions result from interactions between economic rules and company policies, and recent advances in the understanding of psychology and sociology have resulted in proposing cooperation as a more productive business model than traditional stratified models (Solomon, 2003). Rather than imposing strict rules and reporting fraud in this scenario, I would admonish Sally to affect her salary. That would be the most appropriate response because the company would retain a valuable worker, and Sally will most likely remember to avoid similar situations in the future. The company would avoid financial damage, Sally would avoid legal actions against her, and inter-personal relationships will remain positive to ensure successful business operations in the future.
While the community viewpoint would obviously contradict my personal viewpoint, I believe my solution would be correct. Sally has made a mistake, but firing her and introducing a new employee only puts the company at risk that the same mistake will be repeated. Of course several virtues would be at stake, such as justice or equality in treating deviant behavior, but I believe virtue ethics is closer to relativism than other ethical models. I would approach the situation by observing both character-based factors and external factors that contributed to Sally's action. Based on that analysis, I would conclude that Sally is not a criminal, and it would be incorrect to treat her like one. According to Salomon (2003), compassion is a virtue often praised, but rarely practiced. In Sally's case, I would practice compassion because judging her on one mistake in 20 years would be unfair. However, I would require her to assume responsibility for her actions because she was aware that she had violated company policies, and freedom in decision-making is a virtue that comes with responsibility for those decisions.
Moore (2002) suggests that current virtue ethics is not suitable for businesses because they would soon cease to exist, but he points out the importance of essential virtues, such as practical wisdom, that can be practiced in the business environment to encourage applications of other virtues and harmonious development of the company by affecting inter-personal relationships. I agree with that statement, and I believe business leadership should practice wisdom to preserve all sides of disputes rather than damage both sides of the dispute. Damaging Sally is equal to damaging the company, and preserving her well-being is equal to preserving the company's well-being. With the virtue of practical wisdom, it is possible to see that negative outcomes and positive outcomes of decisions affect both sides in this scenario, so covering the expenses from Sally's salary while retaining a productive employee would achieve long-term positive outcomes for both sides.
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