Ethics According to the Principles of Ethical Essay

Pages: 5 (1642 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Business - Ethics


According to the principles of ethical relativism, moral decisions are made on the basis of what an individual believes, or what the culture from which the individual comes stands for. There is no general set of principles or morals that applies to all individuals or all cultures.

Martin Luther King operated from the principle of cultural realization and individual empowerment. He was an ethical relativist, because not all people or all cultures during his time agreed with the principles he advocated. During the time of Martin Luther King, it was believed that white citizens in the United States were superior to all other races. This is a European supremacist attitude that originated from the time of colonialism and imperialism. The European belief of superiority resulted in the centuries-long enslavement and destruction of native cultures across the world. It is against this destruction that Martin Luther King and others like him spoke.

King's relativism was based upon his personal belief that all people, regardless of ethnicity or color, were at an equal level, and deserved equal opportunities in terms of income, work, and self-fulfillment. At the time, many white people believed that these rights extended only to the white "civilized" nation. Relativism means that there is not universal right or wrong, but rather that there are individual perceptions of morality. For King, morality means that, like white people, black people have a right to self-realization.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Essay on Ethics According to the Principles of Ethical Assignment

Question 2(a): If I were to apply the principle of utilitarianism, I would not report Robyn to management. Utilitarianism operates from the principle of happiness to all persons. Moral actions are based upon the contribution of an action to the happiness and satisfaction of all persons involved. Robyn is part of the workforce at the Box. She views her theft as necessary to her own happiness, because she perceives the reduction in payment as exploitation of her student status. Although she may be disadvantaging the overall profit of the store by stealing, she is not doing anything to harm me or the rest of the workforce. Our payments have been similarly reduced, and her reaction is therefore understandable. From a utilitarian viewpoint, I would therefore not report her, because she is contributing to her own happiness without detracting from the well-being of the rest of the workforce. The only party to potentially suffer is the employer, who has reduced the pay to its employees, and theoretically does not therefore suffer.


If I were to apply duty ethics, as advocated by Kant, I would report Robyn to management. Duty ethics refers to the sense of right and wrong as dictated by respect for the general moral law. According to the general moral law, I know that stealing is wrong. Although my personal inclination might dictate that the company is disadvantaging its student workers, it is nonetheless not morally wrong to reduce payment. Doing something morally wrong such as stealing in order to get back at the company for perceived misconduct is therefore wrong.

On the other hand, reporting Robyn behind her back would be equally wrong. I would rather raise the issue with her first, and attempt to lead her to see the error of her ways. I would also let her know that, failing this, I would report her. If she still refuses to do what is right according to duty ethics, I would indeed report her, because I would feel that it is my duty in terms of general morality, regardless of my personal feelings towards Robyn or her justifications.


If I were to apply virtue ethics, I would think very deeply before reporting Robyn. Virtue ethics, pioneered by Plato and Aristotle, generally account for more ethical dimensions than other ethical concepts such as duty ethics. Virtue ethics for example relate to multi-dimensional virtues such as friendship, happiness, the role of emotions, along with moral character, education and wisdom.

According to these ethics, I would therefore consider my friendship to Robyn. This would prevent me from reporting her to management. As mentioned above, I would discuss the issue with her first. I would also consider the fact that she has a valid argument against the company. Clearly it is prejudiced against her status as a student, as it has reduced pay with the argument that there are many students who would be happy to accept the new rate. As such, virtue ethics accept that there is more than one ethical viewpoint. From the management point-of-view, Robyn is morally incorrect. However, from the employee point-of-view, management is wrong to have reduced pay.

Robyn's emotions dictate that she needs to do something to avenge her sense of fairness. Her way of doing this entails stealing. Before reporting her, as above, I would therefore discuss the issue with her in depth in order to ensure that I understand all her motives and emotions. In turn I would perhaps even discuss the issue with management. I would make sure that I understand all the underlying motives for the pay cut.

Whether I report Robyn would depend upon the validity of viewpoints of both Robyn and management. If I feel that management has made a valid decision in terms of the pay cut, I would report Robyn. On the other hand, I would also consider the value of my friendship with Robyn, along with her viewpoint. Our friendship may prejudice my decision to notify management of her indiscretion.


Personally, I do feel that Robyn could find some other way than stealing to signify her discontent to management. As mentioned in the two previous points, I would discuss the issue with her before making any decisions regarding whether to report her or not. I would for example suggest that she talk to management about the problem she has with the pay cut and that she feels exploited. According to what the managers have said, however, it is unlikely that they would change their decision.

However, I tend to agree with Robyn's motive, if not her methods. I would therefore suggest to her that she find another, better paying job rather than report her to management. If she refuses, I still do not think that I am very likely to report her. The reason for this is that I place a high value on friendship, which is akin to virtue ethics. I feel that my friendship with her is more important than the well-being of a company that I feel is acting immorally towards its employees as well. Personally I therefore do not believe that I would report Robyn.

Question 3:

My ethical system is dictated by a combination of virtue and relativism. I find utilitarianism and especially duty ethics somewhat narrow in scope for the many situations in which human beings may find themselves today.

Virtue ethics accounts for multi-dimensional ethical possibilities. It recognizes that things like friendship and personal motive may play a role in ethical decisions. It is therefore more flexible than many other ethical systems.

I also tend to be particularly fond of relativism, for the same reasons. Relativism entails the basic ethical principles according to which the majority of the democratic society today operates. It is a system that recognizes that not every situation is ethically clear. It also recognizes that different human beings can see ethical situations differently, and therefore act differently in each situation.

The case of Robyn serves as a good example. Although she is acting immorally according to a generalized set of ethics, she has a valid point regarding the decisions made by management. This recognition, along with my friendship with her, would disincline me towards reporting her.

In general, I like to consider an ethical situation from all angles before making any decisions about it. I believe that doing this is inherent in our nature as human beings:… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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