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Ethical Issue Idenfication

Two Business Ethics questions.

1. What makes an ethical decision or issue ethical? How would you explain the differences between ethical/nonethical and ethical/unethical? What ethical issues or dilemmas have you experienced in the workplace?

2. Do professionals such as accountants and lawyers have duties and obligations that other people do not? From where would such duties come from?

Solution Preview

This is a good series of questions.

First of all, we must start with the concept of ethics. What is ethics? Ethics is the study of the principles involved in determining the difference between right and wrong, and between right actions and wrong actions. But this leads us to an important conclusion. Right and wrong must be objective realities, not subjective ones, and they must be governed by an independent set of principles (or one overriding principle) that is somehow external to the situation and external to us, both at the same time.

Therefore, what is right and what is wrong? If we study the meaning of right, then the meaning of wrong will flow as it will be understood as its opposite or its lack of attainment of the right. To limit the scope of this response, let us focus on right and wrong actions rather than right and wrong per se. Why? Because ethics has to do with actions, not necessarily thoughts. (This way we avoid the issue of religiously -- and possibly subjectively -- determining right from wrong.) A right action is one in which no one is harmed unjustly. The essence of a right action can be understood by the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It may sound corny or archaic (or even religious!), but it's a good foundation upon which to build. This is to say that if I behave toward others in a way that I would not want others to behave toward me in, and then I have not acted in a good way to others. I have committed a wrong action. I have engaged in an unethical action. Therefore, I cannot violate someone's privacy, someone's property, or someone's honor -- to name a few basic rights of man. An unethical action is, therefore, an action that violates ...

Solution Summary

This solution of 1,203 words describes the characteristics of an ethical decision and ethical issue with justifications and examples. It also touches on the legal obligations of accountants and lawyers.

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