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Business Ethics
The Moral Point of View

Ethics is about how we ought to behave. And why.
Ethical discussions happen on a few levels:
1. Normative Ethics
2. Applied Ethics
Business ethics is a sub-branch of applied ethics
Business Ethics concerns the justification of behaviour of
businesses and individuals working in the business realm

Normative Ethics
What are we talking about when we talk about normative
Ethical theories
Ethical theories aim to add clarity, consistency, and substance to the
domain of moral discourse.
What do we want in an ethical theory?
1. Consistent moral principles
2. Compelling and non-arbitrary reasons to adopt it

The Language of Morality

Different kinds of prescriptive claims
Moral philosophy is focused around value loaded terms:
good, bad; ought, ought not; should, shouldnt; etc
Claims which utilize these terms are prescriptivethey tell
you what you should (or shouldnt) do
i.e. they express judgements
Sometimes, we use these in a moral sense, other times we use
them in a non-moral sense

The Language of Morality

Different kinds of Ought claims
Morality vs Prudence
Ethics and prudence do not always coincide
Even though ethical behaviour is often in someones selfinterest, ethical behaviour is not the same as self-interest
or prudence

The Language of Morality

Different kinds of Ought claims
Morality vs Law
The law is not the sole source of rules, standards, and values
Whats legally required is not necessarily ethical
Illegal activities are not necessarily

Different kinds of Ought claims

An argument features premises and a conclusion
The conclusion is the claim being argued for
Premises are reasons to accept that specific
conclusion; they should work together to provide
compelling reason to accept the conclusion
Objections attack specific premises, in a bid to
provide convincing reason to reject the offer

Agents vs Patients
Moral Agent
Someone who can decide on a course of action and be held
responsible for it
Implies moral duties and the ability to perform them
E.g. normal, rational people
Moral Patient
Entities who are due moral consideration
Merely implies certain privileges
E.g. babies, someone in a coma, animals(?)

Discussion Task

Groups of at least 3 and at most 4

Read the narrative, discuss the issues, and collectively
evaluate the possible answers to the question(s)
Then, write out your submission
Responses must be written, must be done in complete
sentences (roughly 1 paragraph per question), must be
submitted before the end of class
To get credit, you have to: (1) be here when your group
submits your responses, (2) the responses must demonstrate
a genuine effort to engage with the course content, and (3)
convey the substance of your discussions