Moral Reasoning Ethical dilemmas in management are not simple choices between “right” and “wrong

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Moral Reasoning
Ethical dilemmas in management are not simple choices between “right” and “wrong”, they are complex judgments on the balance between economic returns and social damages, complicated by the multiple alternatives, extended consequence, uncertain probabilities and career implications that are an inherent part of the decisions. How do we decide when face such issues. How do we determine what is “right” and “proper” and “just” in these and other instances?
The term teleology is derived from the Greek work “teleoswhich means, “end” or “purpose”. According to this theory the concept of right, wrong and duty are subordinated to the concept of end or purpose of the action. This is also called consequentiality theory. Which suggest that ethical reasoning concentrate on the consequence of human action, and all actions are evaluated in terms of the extent to which they achieve desirable results.
The term deontology comes from the Greek Work “deon” means “duty”. According to the deontologist the rules and principles are crucial for guiding human action. Kant believes that ethical reasoning should concern activities that are rationally motivated and apply universally to all human action.
Kant tells us that the consistency should govern all our action. Wrongness of an action depends on the criteria of Universality and Reversibility.
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) attempted to discover the rational principle that would stand as a categorical imperative grounding all other ethical judgments. The imperative would have to be categorical rather than hypothetical, or conditional, since true morality should not depend on our individual likes and dislikes or on our abilities and opportunities. These are historical “accidents”; any ultimate principle of ethical must transcend them. Among the various formulations of the categorical imperative, two are particularly worth noting.
Always act in such a way that you can also will that the maxim of your action should become a universal law. Or act so that you treat humanity, both in your own person and in that of another, always as an end and never merely as a means.
Although ultimately these are formally equivalent, the first illustrates the need for moral principles to be universalizable. The second points to the radical distinction to be made between things and persons, and emphasizes the necessity of respect for persons.
Kant’s theory is an example of a deontological or duty-based ethics: it judges morality by examining the nature of actions and the will of agents rather than goals achieved. (Roughly, a deontological theory looks at inputs rather than outcomes). One reason for the shift away from consequences to duties is that, in spite of our best efforts, we cannot control the future. We are praised or blamed for actions within our control, and that includes our willing, not our achieving. This is not to say that Kant did not care about the outcomes of our actions-we all wish for good things. Rather Kant insisted that as far as the moral evaluation of our actions was concerned, consequences did not matter.
As suggested by the first version of the categorical imperative above, if the maxim or rule governing our action is not capable of being universalized, then it is unacceptable. Note that universalizability is not the same as universality. Kant’s point is not that we would all agree on some rule if it is moral. Instead, we must be able to will that it be made universal; the idea is very much like the golden rule – Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you. If you cannot will that everyone follow the same rule, your rule is not a moral one.

The principle of universalizability and reversibility
Notes on Utilitarianism
Jeremy Bentham first formulated utilitarianism and its foremost proponent was his student John Stuart Mill. Bentham and J.S. Mill both criticized Kant. They asked do we really care what a persons intentions are if we get hurt or benefit? Bentham said, for the most part, we focus on the utility of actions.

Utility: An act or thing has utility for a person if it makes them happy or brings pleasure or decreases pain.
Utilitarians focus on the consequences of actions – with an eye toward maximizing happiness/utility. The fundamental Principle of Utility is to:
Do those acts which will result in the greatest good for the greatest number of people”.
In order to properly maximize happiness, we need to have a way to quantify the amount of happiness produced by a given act and a way to compare those results with other possible acts.

The question here is:

How do we measure pleasure?” Bentham proposed we start by naming our units of measure:

Hedons: Units of pleasure

Dolors: units of pain
Problem is, if we want to be sure we are creating the greatest amount of pleasure/good, we need a measuring device as well as a method of calculating the overall amount.
(Analogy with determining which of two rooms is the largest – we need a unit of measure or a yardstick, and a method of calculating the total space in each room in order to determine the largest room).

Ways to measure pleasure:

  1. Anticipation/Certainty

  2. Intensity

  3. Duration

  4. Remoteness (doing for others) (all the above provide a means of measuring immediate pleasure/pain)

  5. Secondary effects – some pains produce pleasure and vice versa

  6. Extent: how far reaching (how many people does it affect).

So, 1-5 measure the aspects of pleasure for an individual, while 6 accounts for the group (society, all sentient beings)

Hedonistic Calculus:

  1. Start with the individual most affected

  2. Quantify the immediate pleasure

  3. Quantify the immediate pain

  4. Quantify the secondary pleasure/pain.

  5. Grand total for that individual

  6. Repeat steps 1-5 for all affected

  7. Repeat for every possible alternative act

Problem: This becomes too much work, and we wind up never acting…(especially if we consider doing the calculus to be an act, which will also have consequences)!
Is there any way to simplify the process?
Can we take a poll?

Can we elect people to decide for us?

Can we forget the secondary effects?

Can we just use a random sample of people involved?

Think for a moment – do we normally consider all of the possible optional acts we could do and calculate the consequences? Is this how our parents taught us to behave? Normally we apply rules to our behavior…therefore we can change from “Act” utilitarianism to “Rule” utilitarianism….

Principle of Utility:
“Follow those rules, the following of which will result in the greatest good for the greatest number”. (You do the calculus once on a proposed rule, and then follow the rule).
Sometimes the rules don’t bring about the greater good. There are times when it will be clear that the greater good is served by breaking the rule (just this once) response: (Mill) The times when this is necessary will be rather clear – so not a problem. Once rules are made, people stop thinking (i.e. “we’ve always done it that way.”) People may continue to follow rules even when they do not produce the greater good.

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