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Ethics in Business

Autor:   •  February 24, 2014  •  Essay  •  1,973 Words (8 Pages)  •  952 Views

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This assignment will set out to discuss the key principles of deontological theorist and philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). Deontology is defined as being a moral philosophy derived from the Greek words deon and logo meaning ‘duty’ and ‘study’. With Kant’s theory being one of the most influential deontology theories a lot of ethical problems in businesses can be related toit. The issue this assignment will relate with Kant’s theory is redundancies. Due to difficult economic circumstances, redundancies are made by organisations to cut costs.The big dispute here is that this may be ethically wrong because it is done for the purposes of increasing profit and shareholder wealth rather than the organisations trying to avoid losses in a means to cope in difficult economic circumstances. With Kant’s theory applied to redundancy policies a better understanding would be gained on what would and would not constitute a breach of Kant’s theory when a company uses redundancy as a means to cope with difficult economic circumstances.

The Kantian theory was brought about during the end of the eighteenth century by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). Kant based his research on his philosophy of ‘acting with pure reason’. Kant’s theory is evidently based on good morality that a person can categorically not act in such a way that has severe consequences on another person, as the assignment will now go on to discuss.

Kant’s theory suggested ‘morality’ was a set of principles which questioned moral laws that humans oughtto apply to all problems relating to ethics. Kant was convinced that human beings were a special breed unlike animals and believed that humans did not need a God or a superior authority to make decisions but rather humans could identify these principles for ethical behaviour themselves. Therefore Kant beliefs of humans as rational thinkers led him to his theory of morality that humans are able to make their own decisions regarding right or wrong.

Kant later developed these beliefs into ‘The categorical imperative’. Although referred to in the singular, there were three variations in the categorical imperative, also known as the ‘three maxims’. They are as follows:

(source: De George 1999)

The first maxim declares that a decision should not be made by a person if the action is something that they would not wish upon themselves. For example when a decision involves lying, then itwould not meet this maxim as no person would want to be lied to therefore the action can absolutely not be done if it is something the decision maker would not wish upon themselves. The second maxim declares that humans have ‘free will’ therefore their dignity is valuable and must be respected when a decision is made. This principle is also known as the ‘respect for person’s principle’. This can be applied to almost all business organisationsas they


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