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Ethics Ethics Document Transcript

  • MODULE I What is ethics? The word ethics comes from the Greek word “ethikos”, meaning character. There is a similar term that prevails in and many times considered synonym of ethics, is “morality”. But in essence these are quite different concept .the word morality has been derived from the Latin root ‘moralist” which means behavior. Ethico-moral actions thus pertain to set of actions engineered by the characters and expressed through behaviors. Ethics is a set of standards, or a code, or value system, worked out from human reason and experience, by which free human actions are determined as ultimately right or wrong, good or evil. If acting agrees with these standards, it is ethical, otherwise unethical. Business ethics refers to the application of ethics to business. To be more specific, business ethics is the study of good and evil, right and wrong and just and unjust actions of businessman. NATURE OF ETHICS IN BUSINESS 1. In business activities, most ethical questions could be of two types---overt and covert. Overt ethical problems like bribery, theft, sabotage etc are clear for everyone to see and are generally considered reprehensible. Covert ethical problems are more complex, types of problems occur in corporate acquisitions, marketing and personnel policies, capital investment, market war etc. They are difficult to locate, to eliminate and are consequently much more dangerous and threatening to business. 2. For a decision to be ethical, it should possess the following characteristics. It should be: (a) RIGHT- that which is morally correct and due; (b) EQUITABLE-that which is just and equal; (c) GOOD-that which brings in the highest good for all concerned; (d) PROPER-that which is appropriate and acceptable; (e) FAIR-that which is honest and due; (f) JUST-that justice is not only done; but is also seen to have been done. 3. Ethics is unstructured, i.e., it does not have a structured format or framework. It is abstract in concept. Hence it does not have universal acceptance, mainly because: a. Ethics depends upon our moral standards; b. Moral standards depend upon our value system; c. The value system of people depend upon their background & childhood experience; &
  • d. The background & experience of people are vastly different. Hence the ethical practices of people are also different. 4. Ethical decisions should express some obligations to others. The very concept of being ethical means that it results in some well for the larger society and not just for oneself. CHARACTERISTICS OF BUSINESS ETHICS 1. Ethical decisions differ with the individual perspective of different persons. Each person views the ethical question in terms of his or her own frame of reference. And this frame of reference is the person’s own unique value system. Hence ethical decisions do not have unique solutions, but a multitude of alternatives. For example, In case of a Dam building project, the company loses Rest. 2 laky per day, if operations are stopped. One day during work, it is found that a worker is missing inside the dam. Work will definitely be stopped to search for the missing man. However, if the man is not found within a day or two, how long should work be stopped, inspire of the losses to the company, will depend upon the value system of the manager & what according to him is the ethical thing to do. Given the same situation, but a different manager, work will be stopped only unto what that manager thinks is the ethical course of action, or work may not be stopped at all. 2. Ethical decisions are not limited only to them, but affect a wide range of other situations as well. Similarly, unethical decisions do not end in themselves, but have widespread consequences. One ethical action is like a pebble thrown into a pond of water, it produces endless ripples in the pond, until it disturbs the water in the entire pond. Similarly the single unethical action is not limited to the individual in the company who commits it, but spreads within the entire organization and one unethical organization affects the entire industry. 3. Most ethical decisions involve a trade-off between costs incurred & benefits received. It needs to be clearly understood that costs & benefits, profits & responsibilities are two ends of a single spectrum. Both cannot be mixed simultaneously .If you want some benefits for your organization or for yourself; you need to incur some costs or make some sacrifice. Similarly, maximum profits cannot go hand in hand with maximum social responsibilities or maximum welfare obligations. Maximum concern for task or productivity cannot go hand in hand with maximum concern for people. There has to be a trade-off, a compromise. And this compromise, where it is done, how it is done, results in a decision being ethical or unethical. One cannot get everything for nothing.
  • 4. The consequence of most ethical decisions is not clear. They are ambiguous in nature. The only certainty is that somewhere, sometime, somehow, something positive would result from an ethical decision and something negative from an unethical one. The consequences of both may not be immediate and may not be clear. 5. Every person is individually responsible for the ethical or unethical decision & action that he or she takes. Taking an ethical or unethical decision cannot be an impersonal activity as it involves the person’s individual & unique value system along with his moral standards. The same is the case with ethical or unethical actions. Every person has to take decisions, & whether this decisions are ethical or unethical, will depend upon his own conscience & upon what he is comfortable with. His own value must justify his actions .For example, In case of parliamentary democracy, during a vote of confidence of a government, if the prime minister of the country pays bribes to a few independent MPs to buy their votes in the favor of the government, he is doing so, not for his own sake alone, but to save the entire government. In other words, the unethical action & decision of bribery, is taken on behalf of the entire government, & not merely on his own behalf. Yet he alone is personally & individually responsible for the crime, & not his entire government. Ex: in Hindu mythology Rants (Sage Valrico). 6. Ethical decisions are voluntary human actions .A person cannot escape his personal liability for his crimes by saying that he was forced to pay the bribe in order to get the job. All human beings have the freedom of choice & of free will. Even under compelling situations, many men have refused to divert from the ethical way of life. Hence, no one can excuse himself or herself of his or her actions by citing force of circumstances or pressure of men for his or her unethical activates. Hence all ethical or unethical actions are supposed to result from voluntary human actions & not from situations beyond their control. WHY IS ETHICS IMPORTANT? Ethics is important to business for several reasons as stated below: 1. Ethics corresponds to basic human needs: It is a human trait that man desires to be ethical; not only in his private life but also in his business affairs where, being a manager, he knows his decisions may affect the lives of thousands of employees. Moreover most people want to be part of an organization which they can respect & publicly proud of, because they perceive its purpose & activities to be honest & beneficial to the society.
  • 2. These basic needs compel the organizations to be ethically oriented. 3. Values create credibility with the public: A company perceived by the public to be ethically & socially responsive will be honored & respected even by those who have no intimate knowledge of its actual working. There will be an instinctive prejudice in favor of its products, since people believe that the company offers value for money. 4. Values give management credibility with employees: The management has credibility with its employees precisely because it has credibility with the public. 5. Values help better decision making: Ethical attitude helps the management to make better decisions, i.e, decisions which are in the interest of the public, their employees & the company’s own long term good. 6. Ethics & profit: Value driven companies are sure to be successful in the long run, through in the short run, they may lose money. 7. Law cannot protect society, ethics can: Technology develops faster than the government can regulate. People in an industry often know the dangers in a particular technology better than the regulatory agencies. Further, government cannot always regulate all activities, which are harmful to the society. Where law fails, ethics can succeed .An ethical oriented management takes measures to prevent pollution & protect workers’ health even before being mandated by law. SOURCES OF BUSINESS ETHICS Three repositories of ethical values influence managers in every society: religion, culture & law. These repositories contain unique system of values that exert varying degrees of control over managers. A common thread, the idea of mutual help, runs through all the value systems. Ethical values are mechanism that controls behavior in business & in other walks of life. Ethical restraints are more affective than are cruder controls such as police, lawsuits, etc. 1. RELIGION: One of the oldest sources of ethical inspiration is religion .The world’s great religions are in agreement on fundamental principles. The principle of reciprocity towards one’s fellow human beings is found in all major religions. The great religions Preach the necessity for an orderly social system & emphasis social responsibilities in such a way as to contribute to the general welfare. 2. CULTURAL EXPERIENCE: Culture refers to a set of values, rules & standards transmitted among generations & acted upon to produce behaviors that fall within acceptable limits. These rules & standards always play an important part in determining values, because individuals anchor their conduct in the culture of the group. Civilization itself is a cumulative cultural experience in which
  • people have passed through three distinct phases of moral codification (hunting & gathering stage, agricultural stage & industrial stage). 3. THE LEGAL SYSTEM: Laws are rules of conduct, approved by legislatures that guide human behavior in any society. They codify ethical expectations & keep changing when new evils emerge. But laws cannot cover all ethical expectations of society. ETHICAL STANDARDS If we are to get back to the root source or principle of ethics we must talk about human goals. Ethical standards are not different from any other kind of standards in this regard .Ex: The standards that I set as a manufacturer of parachute. When I check a parachute, coming of the production line, against the quality standards, it is supposed to meet, find it deficient & reject it as a “bad” parachute, the basic reason for rejecting it as a bad is that, failing to meet the standard set, it will fail to achieve the goal the parachute is being made for. It is the goal of the parachute, which determines the manufacturing standards to be used. Like the production standards of the parachute manufacturer, ethical standards are not ends in themselves. Ethical standards arise, or are set in the attempt to reach an ultimate human goal. There are certain needs which all men experience and certain goals all men strive for .The fulfilling of these we usually call the pursuit of happiness. As this human goal changes, or is refined by human experience, ethical standards must change or be refined. Historically, this is exactly what has happened. The “equality of men” & the “right to freedom” are relatively new human “goals” accepted by or permitted by men. The general acceptance of these new human goals has changed the ethical standards determining right & wrong actions. ETHICAL STANDARDS THROUGH HISTORY The following are a few of the most popular ethical (moral) standards drawn from both philosophy & religion used by man through the ages. 1. Treat all men with fairness & justice. 2. Do to others, as you would have them to do to you. (the Golden Rule) 3. Always treat individuals as end, with respect & dignity. 4. Love your neighbor as yourself. 5. Always ask: “Will it hurt anyone?” 6. Know you – be always honest with yourself & with others. 7. Evaluate the morality of an action by examining into the intention behind it & into the cause – effect chain reaction.
  • 8. Long-range utility standards: so act that your act will produce over the long range, maximum personal happiness in terms of its ultimate consequence (“enlightened self-interest”). 9. The general law standard: so act that your act could be made a general law for all people that would successfully regulate the relations of men with each other toward the greatest good for the greatest number. (I.e., ask: “suppose everybody did this?”) 10. The less evil standard: So act, in circumstances where action is unavoidable & all available actions appear unethical that your act, judged by its consequences & the above standards is the lesser evil. A code of ethics is a set of specific ethical rules, which are derived from the broad, general ethical standards citied above. A carefully worked out code provides a shortcut between the general standards & the concrete life situations with which we deal daily. 1. ETHICAL DILEMMAS The ethical dilemmas stem from three sources: face- to- face ethics, corporate policy ethics & functional area ethics. 1. FACE-TO-FACE ETHICS: It is likely that quality assurance man wins at minor defects & approves a lot delivered by a supplier because of the personal relationship the two enjoy between them. It is also likely that the supervisor over-rates the performance of an employee because of the similar relationship that exists between the two. 2. CORPORATE POLICY ETHICS: Following conflicting situations are typical: a. Your R & D department has modernized one of your products. It is not really ‘new & improved’ but you know printing this statement on the package & using it in the advertisement will increase sales. What would you do? b. You are interviewing a former product manager who just left a competitor’s company. You are thinking of hiring him. He would be more than happy to tell you the competitor’s entire plan for the coming years. What would you do? c. You produce an anti-dandruff shampoo that is affective with one application. Your assistant says that the product would turn over faster if the instructions on the label recommended two applications. What would you do? 3. FUNCTIONAL AREA ETHICS: Ethical dilemmas crop up in purchasing department where strong pressures are felt to obtain the lowest possible prices from suppliers too fell a similar need to bag lucrative contracts. Bribes, kickbacks &
  • discriminatory pricing are temptations to both the parties. Marketing is another area of the ethics issue. Pricing, promotions, advertising, product information, relation between ad agencies& their clients & marketing research are potential areas of ethical dilemmas. Then there is the area of sophisticated communication technology, which is grossly abused or misused to realize one’s ambitions. PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS FOR MAKING ETHICAL DECISIONS Individuals in business can take a number of steps to resolve ethical problems. First, three well known principles to resolve ethical issues are moral idealism, intuitionism & utilitarianism. These principles help a manager in making a decision in ethically difficult circumstances. a. Moral idealism postulates that certain acts are good & others are bad. Pursue those acts, which are good & avoid the bad ones. Moral idealism gives definite answer to ethical issue. b. Intuition leaves it to the individual concerned to sense the moral gravity of the situation. If he feels that his motives are good & that they do not intend to hurt anyone, he is taking an intuitive approach to morally difficult situations. c. Utilitarianism seeks to establish the moral locus not on the act or the motives but on the consequences. If the consequences represent a net increase in society’s happiness, or at least not a net decrease the act is morally right. Second, consider some decision tactics that illuminate moral choices. One such device is to engage in imaginary conversations with a hypothetical opponent as an antidote for certitude. Have a conversation or debate with an intelligent person who takes a different view. Seek out a more experienced, ethically sensitive person in an organization to be your adviser. Third, write down pros & cons in the form of a balance sheet. The balance sheet approach helps decision making by presenting information in an organized way. Fourth, sort out ethical priorities before problems arise. Prioritisation shall help consider alternatives when one is not under stress. Fifth, one should commit oneself publicly on ethical issues. He should identify potential areas of ethical conflicts & make clear his opposition to damaging ecology, stealing supplies from the company, etc once the stand is made clear, co-employees will be less tempted to approach corrupt intentions.
  • Finally, one should set a good personal example for employees. As the Bhagavad-Gita Gait says, “Whatever a great man does is followed by others; people go by the example he set up.” This is one of the fundamental managerial functions. An ethical manager can create a merely uplifting work environment. An unethical manager may make money but he has to pay heavy price & the price is one’s integrity CODE OF BUSINESS ETHICS Nearly 95% of Fortune 500 companies have codes of conduct. The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry has recently issued a declaration on ‘Norms of business ethics.’ The Punjab, Haryana & Delhi Chamber of Commerce has also lately formulated a ‘code of ethics.’ The code says: • Business must maintain the highest standards of behavior for the benefit of industry, employees, customers, shareholders & the society. • Goods & services must conform to the commitment promised to customers. Business must be realistic & truthful in stating claims. • Customers must be given best possible service & treated with respect & fairness. • Business must understand & respect the needs, concerns & welfare of the community and society. It should use knowledge & experience for upgrading the quality of life. All business endeavors must combine the qualities of private excellence for public good. • The best way of promoting high standards of business practice is through self- regulation. The Advertising Standards Council of India accepts, among other things, that there will be: a. No offence to generally accepted norms of public decency. b. Truthfulness & honesty in claims & representation c. No indiscriminate advertising of products, which are hazardous to society or individuals. Whoever evolves the code, its purpose is to provide guidance to managers & employees when they encounter an ethical dilemma. The most effective codes are those drawn up with the co-operation & widespread participation of employees. UNIVERSAL MORAL PRINCIPLES (Universal principles of ethics) The universal moral principles are the outcome of the mother of all principles---- unconditional love & compassion--- which appears in all faiths, & is expressed here as
  • ‘concern for the well being of others’ .The principle have been organized into three categories for ease of use: personal, professional &global ethics. 1. PRINCIPLES OF PERSONAL ETHICS. Personal ethics might also be called morality, since they reflect general expectations of any person in any society, acting in any capacity. These are the principles we try to instill in our children and expect of one another without needing to articulate the expectation or formulize it in any way. Principles of personal ethics include: • Concern for the well being of others • Respect for the autonomy of others • Trustworthiness & honesty • Willing compliance with the law • Basic justice: being fair • Refusing to take unfair advantage • Benevolence: doing good • Preventing harm 2. PRINCIPLES OF PROFESSIONAL ETHICS Individuals acting in a professional capacity take on an additional burden of ethical responsibility. For egg: professional associations have codes of ethics that prescribe required behavior within the context of a professional practice such as medicine, law, accounting or engineering. These written codes provide rules of contact & standards of behavior based on the principles of professional ethics, which include: • Confidentiality • Impartiality • objectivity • Openness; full disclosure • Due diligence/duty of care • Fidelity to professional responsibilities • Avoiding potential or apparent conflict of interest Even when not written in a code, principle of professional ethics are usually expected of people in business, employees, volunteers, elected representatives & so on.
  • Principles of Global Ethics include: Global Justice (as reflected in international laws) Society before self (social responsibility) Environmental stewardship Interdependence and responsibility for the ‘whole’. Reverence for place Co-existence of principles Principles can only provide guidance. There are a myriad of situations that will never lend themselves to an easy formula, and the principles can only be used to trigger our conscience or guide our decisions. It is important to note that principles of personal ethics are the best checkpoint in any situation, often overriding those at the professional and global levels. For example, when judging if a corporation has been socially responsible, we still need to consider principles of personal ethics as prerequisites. Contributions to charities and the like ‘doing good’ may appear to be the interests of society, but loses its significance if the corporation has not also taken responsibility to minimize the damage done by their core business operations ( preventing harm). Similarly, trustworthiness is fundamental to professionalism and so on. As well, there are many times when principles will collide with other principles. Let us say you are a scientist, who has been forced by a corrupt military dictatorship into designing a biological weapon. Since the project is top secret, you have a professional duty to maintain confidentiality. But, if there were an opportunity to inform UN Observers, global and personal principles would justify revealing confidential information to protect the overall good of humanity. (Compare this to selling confidential information for personal gain.) Still, the scientist is faced with a tough decision, since they or their family could be harmed as a result of the whistle blowing. This is where the principles must be viewed in the context of universality. GENERAL MORAL ISSUES ENGULFING MODERN SOCIETY CORRUPTION The dictionary defines corruption as an inducement to wrong by bribery or other unlawful means: a departure from what is pure and correct. The public officials commonly apply the term to self-benefiting conduct and others dedicated to public service. Corruption has not only widespread everywhere; it has innumerable forms and dimensions.
  • Ex: the milk seller who adulterates milk; the grocer who uses false weights; the contractor who does shady job of road building and the engineer who puts the seal of approval on it; industrialists and businessmen controlling political power and party machines for their selfish motives –all these are corrupt. Corruption is a complex phenomenon and various factors and forces have conspired to cause it and spread it everywhere. The major causes responsible for corruption are the following: Economic insecurity: the poor people become corrupt in the hope of becoming rich. The rich indulge in it for fear of losing what they have. High rate of income tax: since the tax rates are high in India even the honest people are often tempted to escape from it by making false returns of their property and income. Many of the officers in the income tax are also equally corrupt and they thrive on bribery. Meager salary being paid to the government servants: the govt employees who draws poor salary expect tips and bribes even for doing their regular or routine duties Emergence of new sources of wealth and power: unholy understanding between the businessmen and the politicians always encourage corruption The system of democracy: all political parties spend crores of rupees on each election the money comes from the big businessmen and industrialist who have their own vested interests in financing the election. They supply money to the party elections in the form of black money. This in turn gives them license, a ‘moral’ justification for accumulating Unaccounted money in different forms The very presence of black money: this money is obtained by various ways namely tax evasion smuggling speculation in shares receiving fee in cash without showing them in accounts etc… Social and economic modernization: “the get –rich quick” motivation inspires a large number of people both at the top and bottom of the society to become corrupt. ORGANISED CRIME AND WHITE COLLAR CRIME The organized crime may take anyone of these forms: racketeering, gambling, bootlegging or smuggling, kidnapping, rape etc. Organizer of these crimes indulge in anti-social activities –like carrying illegal prostitution in hotels, supplying liquors in prohibited areas, smuggling gold and other valuable goods, organizing mafia gang to control various legitimate business activities such as coal mines and so on.
  • The main purpose here is to get large profit in the form of “easy money”. The activities of the organized criminals have a great disorganizing effect on the community. Political corruption is the main motivating factor for organized crime in the modern societies. White-collar crime or socio economic crime is a crime committed by a person of respectability and high socio status in course of his occupation. The white-collar crime includes the following: 1. Tax evasion and avoidance 2. Share pushing malpractices in share markets 3. Monopolistic control and usury 4. Violation of foreign exchange regulation 5. Election offense and malpractices 6. Theft and misappropriation of public property and funds 7. Violation of standards, weight and measures 8. Frauds in corporate bodies 9. Professional misconduct Prevention of corruption Corruption, which has gone deep into our social life, cannot be removed very easily. In fact, it can only be reduced or minimized, and can hardly be stopped altogether. Even for minimizing this problem, both preventive and penalizing measures will have to be taken. Preventive action must include administrative, legal, social, economic and educative measures. DISCRIMINATION The root meaning of the term DISCRIMINATE is to distinguish one object from another. A morally neutral and not necessarily wrongful activity. However in modern usage, the term is not morally neutral: it is usually intended to refer to the wrongful art of distinguishing illicitly among people not on the basis of individual merit but on the basis of prejudice or some other invidious or morally reprehensible attitude. WHY IS IT WRONG TO DISCRIMINATE? The arguments mustered against discrimination generally fall into three groups a) Utilitarian arguments, which claim that discrimination leads to an inefficient use of human resources
  • b) rights arguments, which claims that discriminations violates basic human rights c) justice arguments, which claims that discrimination results in an unjust distribution of societies benefits and burdens. Utilitarian arguments The standard utilitarian arguments against racial and sexual discrimination are based on the idea that societies productivity will be optimized to the extent that jobs are awarded on the basis of competency or merit. Different jobs, the arguments goes, requires different skills and personality traits if they are to be carried out in as productive a manner as possible. Furthermore, different peoples have different skills and personality traits if they are to be carried out ion as productive a manner as possible. Furthermore, different people have different skills and personality traits. Consequently, to ensure that jobs are maximally productive, they must be assigned to those individuals whose skills and personality traits qualify them as the most competent for the job. Insofar as jobs are assigned to individuals on the basis of other criteria unrelated to competency, productivity must necessarily decline. Discriminating among job applicants on the basis of race, sex, religion, caste or other characteristics unrelated to job performances necessarily inefficient and, therefore, contrary to utilitarian principles. RIGHT ARGUMENTS According to the rights arguments discrimination is wrong because it violates a persons basic moral rights. To be treated as a free person equal to any other person, and that all individual have a correlative moral duty to treat each individual as a free and equal person. Discriminatory practices violate the principle in two ways. First, discrimination is based on the belief that one group is inferior to other group: that Blacks, for example are less competent or less worthy of respect than whites or perhaps that women are less competent or worthy of respect than men. Racial and sexual discrimination for instance may be based on stereotypes that see low caste people as “lazy” or “shiftless” and see women as “emotional” and “weak”. Such degrading stereotypes under mine the self-esteem of those groups against whom the stereotypes are directed and thereby violate their right to be treated as equals. Second, discrimination places the members of groups that are discriminated against in lower social and economic positions. Women have fewer job opportunities and are given lower salaries. Again, the right to be treated as a free and equal person is violated JUSTICE ARGUMENTS According to it discrimination is a violation of the principle of justice. Individuals who are equal in all respects should be treated equally even if they are dissimilar in other non-relevant respects.
  • Discrimination in employment is wrong because it violates the basic principle of justice by discriminating between people on the basis of characteristics (race or sex) that are not relevant to the task they must perform. TYPES OF DISCRIMINATION SEX DISCRIMINATION When the sex of a job applicant is one of the factors on which an employment decision is based, the decision is most likely unlawful. The use of height or weight requirements may be challenged and found to be discriminatory if the requirements eliminate a significantly larger number of women than men. Other types of sex discrimination include refusing employment to a women based on the assumption that parent hood might cause her to be absent more than a male employee. Sex stereotyping can also result in unlawful sex discrimination .for egg, if a male manager evaluates the performance of a female subordinate more critically because she demonstrate stereotypically masculine characteristics (for egg, assertiveness) he is guilty of sex discrimination. Sex stereotypes exist in the work place and often hinder women’s chances for promotion and salary rises. The most damaging stereotyping is that women have lower carrier commitment than men do. A second damaging stereotype is that women are too emotional to handle management position. When men blowup, they considered to have a good reason; when women do it they are considered to be emotional finally, women are either too aggressive or not aggressive enough. Those who are too aggressive are considered shrews (bad tempered or scolding women); those who are not aggressive enough are not considered mgt material. While overt discrimination may be waning in corporate India, covert, subtle discrimination is on the rise. Exclusion is one example. Women are left out of decision-making; important meetings and business trips .the results of exclusion are adverse impact on women’s careers. And the loss of important contributions by women. PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION Under the pregnancy discrimination act, a female employee or job applicant may not be treated differently from a male because of her pregnancy or capacity to become pregnant. Essentially, a woman is protected against being fired or refused a promotion or not hired because she is pregnant or has had an abortion. As long as they can still work pregnant employees cannot be force to quit or go on leave. Some countries have variations of a parental leave law that enable both parents to take time of from work to care for their new born child. RACEAND CASTE DISCRIMINATION
  • NATIONAL ORGIN DISCRIMINATION AGE DCRIMINATION RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION Discrimination occurs when an employee is forced to choose between giving up an employment opportunity or a fundamental belief or practice. The most common problem occurs when an employee asks the manager to accommodate a religious need and there is a scheduling conflict that must be resolved (for egg: conflict might arise if management asks a Christian to work on Good Friday. HANDICAP DISCRIMINATION ECOLOGICAL CONCERN Ecological refers to the science of the interrelationships among organisms and their environments. The operative term is “interrelationships”, implying that interdependence exists among all entities in the environment. Ecosystem refers to the total ecological community both living and nonliving. Webs of interdependence structure ecosystems. Predators and prey, producers and consumers, host s and parasites are linked together creating interlocking mechanisms –checks and balances that stabilize the system. An ordinary example of ecosystem is a pond it consist of a complex web of animals and vegetable life. Suppose that the area were the pond is located experiences a prolonged period of drought, or that someone begins to fish in the pond regularly, or that during period of excessive rainfall plant pesticide begins to fill into it. Under any of these circumstances, changes will occur in the relationships among the pond’s constituent components. Damage to a particular form of planned life may mean that fewer fish can live in the pond; a particular species may even disappear. A change in the pond’s ecosystem may also affect other ecosystem. Because of water contamination, for egg; a herd of deer that live nearby may have to go elsewhere for water; their presence may reduce the berry crop, which have previously supported other animals. The point is that in considering any ecosystems one must remember its conflicts and interrelated nature and the complicated network for interdependencies they bind it to other ecosystems Environmental intrusions affect the integrity of ecosystems. Because, an eco system represents a delicate balance of inter-related entities. And because, eco-systems are inter-locked, an intrusion in to one will affect its integrity and the integrity of others. In fact, precisely because of the inter-
  • related nature of eco-system and because intrusions generally prod7ce serious unfavorable effects, business must scrupulously avoid actions, practices and policies that have an undue impact on the environment. Pollution and resource depletion Environmental damage inevitably threatens the welfare of human beings as well as plants & animals. Threats to environment come from two sources: pollution & resource depletion. Resource depletion refers to the consumption of finite or scarce resources . Air pollution Air pollution increased rapidly as industrialization expanded. Today, air pollution affect vegetation & decreasing agricultural yields; they are hazardous to health &life, raising medical costs &lessening the enjoyment of living; &they threaten catastrophic global damage in the form of global warming, acid rain & destruction of the stratospheric ozone layer. [Industrial, agricultural & other human activities during the late 150 years have released substantially more green gases (carbon dioxide, methane & chlorofluorocarbon) into the atmosphere, particularly by the burning of fossil fuels such as oil &coal. rising levels of greenhouse gases will trap increasing amount of heat on earth &so will raise temperatures around the globe] {A layer of ozone in the lower stratosphere screens all life on earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation. This ozone layer, however is destroyed by CFC gases, which have been used in aerosol cans, refrigerator, air conditioners, industrial solvents & industrial foam blowers} Water pollution Water pollutants are varied, consisting not only of organic wastes but also dissolved salts, metals, radioactive, materials, as well as suspended materials such as bacteria, viruses & sediments. These can impair or destroy aquatic life, threaten human health, 7 foul the water. Water pollutants enter surface water or underground water either from a pipe carried sewage or industrial wastes or from crop pesticides or animal wastes carried in rainwater or runoff. Land pollution Toxic substances Toxic substances are those that can cause an increase in mortality rates or incapacitating illness or those that have other seriously adverse health or environmental effects. Toxic substances released on land include acidic chemicals, in organic metals (such as mercury or arsenic), flammable solvents, pesticides, herbicides, phenols, explosives & so on.
  • Solid wastes City garbage dumps are significant sources of pollution, containing toxic substances such as cadmium (from rechargeable batteries), mercury, lead (from car batteries & TV picture tubes) vanadium, copper & zinc. NUCLEAR WASTES Light- water nuclear reactors contain radioactive materials, including known carcinogens such as strontium 90, cesium 137, barium 140 & iodine 131. Extremely high levels of radiation from these elements can kill a person; lower dosages (especially if radioactive dust particles are inhaled or ingested) can cause thyroid, lung or bone cancer as well as genetic damage that will be transmitted to future generation. DEPLETION OF SPECIES & HABITATS It is well known that human beings have depleted dozens of plant &animals species to the point of extinction. Since 1600 A.D., at least 63 major identifiable species of mammals & 88 major identifiable species of birds are known to have become extinct. Forest habitats on which the bulk of species depend are also being decimated by the timber industry. The loss of forest habitats combined with the effects of pollution is thought to have led to the extinction of a phenomenal number of species. DEPLETION OF FOSSIL FUELS & MINERALS There are physical limits to our natural resources: although many are abundant, they cannot be exploited indefinitely. Eventually they will peter out & the costs of extraction will rise exponentially. More plentiful substitute materials may be found for these resources, but it is likely that substitutes cannot be for all them. Whatever substitutes are developed will also be limited, so the day of reckoning will be delayed Noise pollution Excessive noise could adversely affect productivity. The elimination of noise helps to prevent accidents. It is also known that noise has a delayed impact, resulting in loss of hearing. Excessive noise effects are lack of concentration and mental disorientation. Noise interferes with communications based upon sound, when the frequency of the interfering noise coincides with that of the desired sound. Loud continuous noise interferes with working efficiency and causes the incidence of errors to rise. In so far as noise interferes with sound communication, it may mask warning signals, and thereby, increasing at the same time, the incidence of errors which may make accidents more likely.
  • ECOLOGICAL ETHICS We should recognize our moral duty to protect the welfare not only of human beings, but also of other nonhuman parts of the ecological system. An ecological ethics is an ethic that claims that the welfare of at least some non-humans is intrinsically valuable and that, because of this intrinsic value, we humans have a duty to respect and preserve them. There are several varieties of ecological ethics, some more radical and far reaching than others. Perhaps the most popular version claims that, in addition to human beings, other animals have intrinsic value and are deserving of our respect and protection. Some utilitarians have claimed, for example, that pain is an evil whether it is inflicted on humans or on members of other animal species. The pain of an animal must be considered as equal to the comparable pain of a human, and it is a form of spieciest prejudice (akin to racist or sexist bias against members of another race or sex) to think that the duty to avoid inflicting pain on members of other species is not equal to our duty to avoid inflicting comparable pain on members of our own species. Certain non-utilitarians have reached similar conclusions by a different route. They have claimed that the life of every animal ‘itself has value’ apart from the interests of human beings. Because of the intrinsic value of its life, each animal has certain moral rights, in particular the right to be treated with respect. Humans have a duty to respect this right, although in some cases a human's right might override an animal's right. Both the utilitarian and the rights arguments in support of human duties toward animals imply that it is wrong to raise animals for food in the crowded and painful circumstances in which agricultural business enterprises currently raise cows, pigs and chickens. They also imply that it is wrong to use animals in painful test procedures as they are currently used in some businesses (e.g., to test the toxicity of cosmetics). Broader versions of ecological ethics would extend our duties beyond the animal world to include plants. Other authors have claimed that not only living things but even a natural species - a lake, a wild river, a mountain and even the entire “biotic community" - has a right to have its "integrity, stability and beauty" preserved. The fact that we are only a part of a larger ecological system has led many writers to insist that we should recognize our moral duty to protect the welfare not only of human beings, but also of other nonhuman parts of this system. This instance on what is sometimes called ecological ethics or deep ecology is not based on the idea that the environment should be protected for the sake of human beings. Instead, ecological ethics are based on the idea that nonhuman parts of the environment deserve to be preserved for their own sake, regardless of
  • whether this benefits human beings. LAW AND ETHICS Law is a code of conduct which the authority in power prescribes for society. It basically differs from ethics in its option to use force if and when necessary and by the fact that it is backed by power. Laws are, by and large, fair and moral. But it is not easy to accept that laws can be the foundations of ethics, or even that laws can ensure ethical behaviour. There are many situations in life, where just following the law does not make one ethical. For example, if your next door neighbour has just today lost their only son in a motorcycle accident, just when you wanted to celebrate the birthday of your only son with gaiety, music, guests, enjoyment and much merry making, there is no law to prohibit you from doing so. If you decide not to, it is because of the dictates of your conscience, not because of the dictates of the law. Your conscience, your ethical value system and your principles forbids you to rejoice when some one else nearby is in sorrow. The law has no role to play in such a situation. Moreover, not all laws have moral choice. There are many laws which do not involve any ethicality questions - for example, we are required to walk on the left hand side of the road. This is done to ensure traffic control and the traffic discipline, but a question of ethics is not involved here. Again, all moral and ethical actions do not involve the law. For example, it is ethical to love and respect your parents, but there is no law for it, except when they are deliberately mistreated by their children. Law represents the minimum standards of behaviour expected from people. Merely following the law, does not make one ethical. Another aspect of the legal system is that it prohibits us of certain actions. It also spells out the negative consequences of our not following the law - that is legal punishment. However, ethical behaviour encourages us to do certain things and explains the benefits, i.e., the positive aspects of these ethical behaviour. For example, the law tells us not to steal, not to kill, but ethics tells us to do good, speak the truth, help others in distress. Thus there is a positive aspect inherent in ethical behaviour, whereas the law is more concerned about negative behaviour. Yet another aspect of the law is that ethics precedes the action, the law follows it. Ethics tells us what we should strive to develop in ourselves (high moral standards), on the other hand, law tends to be more concerned with the consequences of the negative action - what punishment would follow, who is guilty and how shall justice be done.
  • Moreover, the law is a universally accepted, published document, whereas ethics do be not yet have a universally accepted, consistent and published concept - it is abstract, culture specific and left to the individual for interpretation and action. Again, the law clearly specifies what action would be taken against a person if he or she violates the provisions of the legal system. But, in case of ethics, there is no specific outcome of an unethical action. What would be the consequences of an unethical action is not very clear, not always the same and not universally accepted. An unethical action may have many repercussions and widespread consequences. Some Laws have nothing to do with morality because they do not involve serious matters. These include parking laws, dress codes and other laws covering similar matters. Other laws may even violate our moral standards so that they are actually contrary to morality. In USA pre-Civil War slavery laws, for example, required the Whites to treat slaves like property, and the laws of Nazi Germany required anti-Semitic behaviour. The laws of Saudi Arabia require that businesses discriminate against women and Jews in ways that most people would say are clearly immoral. Thus, it is clear that ethics is not simply following the law. This does not mean, of course, that ethics has nothing to do with following the law. Our moral standards' are sometimes incorporated into the law, when enough of us feel that a moral standard should be enforced by the pressures of a legal system. In contrast, laws are sometimes criticized and eliminated when it becomes clear that they blatantly violate our moral standards. Morality, therefore, has shaped and influenced many of the laws we have. Moreover, most ethicists agree that all citizens have a moral obligation to obey the law so long as the law does not require clearly unjust behaviour. This means that, in most cases, it is immoral to break the law. Tragically, the obligation to obey the law can create terrible conflicts when the law requires something that the business person believes is immoral. In such cases, a person will be faced with a conflict between the obligation to obey the law and the obligation to obey his or her conscience. Relationship between Ethics & Law Perhaps the easiest way to think about the relationship between business ethics and the law is in terms of a Venn diagram. If we think of the law as reflecting society's minimum norms and standards of business conduct, we can see that there is a great deal of overlap between what's legal and what's ethical. Generally speaking, most people believe that law-abiding behaviour is also ethical behaviour. But there are many standards of conduct agreed upon by society that are
  • not codified in law. For example, conflicts of nterests may not be illegal, but they are generally considered to be unethical in our society and are commonly covered in codes of ethics. So, the domain of ethics includes the legal domain but extends beyond it to include the ethical standards and issues that the law does not address. Finally there are times when you might encounter a law that you believe is unethical. For example, not so long ago racial discrimination was legal in the United States. Therefore, the legal and ethical domains certainly overlap to a large degree, but not completely. It is conceivable to think of something as being legal and unethical, or unethical but not covered by law. Law Ethics Over lap areas To Sum Up. 1. An action can be illegal, but morally right. For eg. Helping a Jewish family to hide from the Nazis was against the German law in 1939, but it would have been a morally admirable thing to have done. Of course, the Nazi regime was vicious and evil. 2. An action that is legal can be morally wrong. For example, it may have been perfectly
  • legal for the chairman of a profitable company to lay off 125 workers and use three- quarters of the money saved to boost his pay and that of the company’s other top managers, but the morality of his doing so is open to debate. 3. All legal provisions may not be ethical and some are , at best, debatable. 4. All ethical actions are not governed by laws. 5. Not all laws have moral choice. 6. Laws are specific concepts, ethics is abstract. 7. Laws represent the minimum standards of human behaviour, ethical behaviour goes much beyond the legal expectations. 8. Ethics has a positive aspect, whereas the law is more concerned about negative behaviour. 9. Ethics precedes action, the law follows it. 10. The law is universally accepted within its jurisdiction and is enforceable, whereas ethics is not always universally accepted and is not enforceable by force or pressure. 11. Law prescribes punishments for illegal acts, whereas ethics do not clearly prescribe specific punishments for an unethical act, since the outcome of an unethical act is not always clear. Thus we may state that laws provide the human society with the minimum standards of behaviour, but laws do not duplicate the value system of the society. Laws are not replica of the ethical system, nor are laws an expression of the moral standards of the society. Laws merely provide us with the guidelines of behaviour for a disciplined, peaceful and safe society.