Moral Philosophies and Values

Individual Factors: Moral Philosophies and Values

Moral Philosophy

•       Refers to principles or rules that people use to decide what is right or wrong

•       Presents guidelines for determining how to settle conflicts in human interests

•       Guides businesspeople in formulating strategies and resolving specific ethical issues

•       No one moral philosophy accepted by everyone

Moral Philosophy Perspectives

•       Teleology

–    Egoism

–    Utilitarianism

•       Deontology

•       The Relativist Perspective

•       Virtue Ethics

•       Justice Perspectives

–    Distributive

–    Procedural

–    Interactional


•       Considers acts as morally right or acceptable if they produce some desired result such as pleasure, knowledge, career growth, the realization of a self interest, or utility

•       Assesses moral worth by looking at

the consequences for the individual

Categories of Teleology

•       Egoism

–    Right or acceptable behavior defined in terms of consequences to the individual

–    Maximizes personal interests

Enlightened egoists take a longer term perspective and allow for the well being of others.

•      Utilitarianism

–    Concerned with consequences

–    Considers a cost/benefit analysis

–    Behavior based on principles of rules that promote the greatest utility rather than on an examination of each situation (greatest good for greatest number of people)


•       Focuses on the rights of the individual, not consequences (considers intentions)

•       Believes in equal respect and views certain behaviors as inherently right

•       Proposes that individuals have certain inherent freedoms

–    Freedoms: conscience, consent, privacy, speech and due process

•       Rule deontologist

–    Conformity to general moral principles

•       Act deontologists

–    Evaluate ethicalness based on the act

The Relativist Perspective

•       Defines ethical behavior subjectively from the experiences of individuals and groups

–    Relativists use themselves or those around them as their basis for defining ethical standards

–    A positive group consensus indicates that an action is considered ethical by the group

•       Acknowledges that we live in a society in which people have different views

–    There are many different bases from which to justify a decision as right or wrong

Virtues That Support Business Transactions

•      Trust

•      Self-control

•      Empathy

•      Fairness

•      Truthfulness

•      Learning

•      Gratitude

•      Civility

•      Moral leadership

Virtue Ethics

•       What is moral in a given situation is not only what conventional wisdom suggests, but also what a “moral” character would deem appropriate.

•       Elements include truthfulness, trust, self control, empathy, and fairness.

•       Attributes in contrast to virtue include lying, cheating, fraud, and corruption.

Three Types of Justice

•       Distributive justice

–    An evaluation of the outcomes or results of a business relationship (evaluating benefits derived/equity in rewards)

•       Procedural justice

–    Based on the processes and activities that produce the outcomes or results (evaluating decision making processes and level of access, openness and participation)

•       Interactional justice

–    Based on an evaluation of the communication processes used in business relationships (evaluating accuracy of information and truthfulness, respect and courtesy in the process)

Applying Moral Philosophy to Ethical Decision Making

•       Evidence suggests that individuals use different moral philosophies depending on the context (personal versus work decisions).

–   Pressures at work are different from personal pressures.

–   Decision making is affected by the corporate culture at work (rules, work group, etc.).

•       Moral philosophies should be assessed on a continuum.

Cognitive Moral Development

•       Kohlberg’s model consist of 6 stages:

–    Punishment and obedience

–    Individual instrumental purpose and exchange

–    Mutual interpersonal expectations, relationships, and conformity

–    Social system and conscience maintenance

–    Prior rights, social contract or utility

–    Universal ethical principles

Kohlberg’s Model

•      Kohlberg’s 6 stages can be reduced to 3 different levels of ethical concern:

–   Concern with immediate interests and with rewards and punishments

–   Concern with “right” as expected by the larger society or some significant reference group

–   Seeing beyond norms, laws, and the authority of groups or individuals

Importance of Kohlberg’s Theory

•       Provides encouragement that individuals in a company can change or improve their moral development

•       Supports management’s development of employees’ moral principles through applicable strategies

•       Indicates that the best way to improve employees’ business ethics is to provide training for cognitive moral development

White-Collar Crime

•      An individual or group committing an illegal act in relation to his/her employment

•      Highly educated, in a position of power, trust, respectability, and responsibility

•      Abuses the trust and authority normally associated with the position for personal and/or organizational gains

Individual Victimization Trends
(Lifetime Consumer Experiences)