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An Introduction to Ethical Philosophy

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This paper provides an introduction to ethical philosophy as it relates to the scenario of a plant closure and relocation. Towards this effort, Team Pinnacle has reviewed several ethical theories in an attempt to identify one particular theory to apply to this scenario. The ethical theories reviewed include deontology, utilitarianism, care ethics, virtue, justice and fairness. Each of the theories reviewed presented both opportunities and challenges when applied to our scenario. A major contributing factor in deciding on the ethical theory to apply to the scenario in question revolves around the fact that our fictional company is a for-profit, publicly traded organization. Publicly traded companies are legally bound to increase share-holder profit whenever possible while staying within the confines of the law. With the end result, that there exists what can best be described as being an ethical duty, associated with managing a plant within a publicly traded company.

The Deontological Approach
Deontology is strongly associated with the German scholar Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). According to Kubasek, Brennan, and Browne, "Immanuel Kant attempted to show that there are some things that we ought to do and others that we ought not to do merely by virtue of being rational" (in Hartigan, ed., 2004, p. 282). Kant theorized that ethical decisions are non-consequential. They are "...based on moral worth as defined by duty" (Bowen, 2004, p. 315). When applying this theoretical model in the decision making process, the decision must be based upon the idea that the act itself is appropriate, not necessarily considering the consequences of the act.

Deontology is in strong opposition to the theories of utilitarianism and care ethics. Both utilitarianism and care ethics place considerable value in the net effect of decisions rather than the duty or intention of the decision itself. Kant's argument for duty-based ethics is summarized by Lahdesmaki (2005), when he says "Kant's most basic claim is that nothing can be conceived to be good unconditionally and without qualification except a good will" (p. 58). Micewski and Troy (2007) demonstrated that deontological ethics is "a theory based on the concepts of duty and rights that can be demonstrated by reason alone and exist separate of experience" (p.24). In other words, the belief among deontologists is that "there are certain moral rights or moral duties that all human being possess" and should consistently acted on as noted by Lahdesmaki (2005, p.58). In practice, as noted by Kubasek, Brennan, and Browne, deontologists adhere to "actions that are right not because of some benefit to ourselves or others but because of the nature of these actions or the rules from which they follow" (in Hartigan, ed., 2004, p. 263).

Sandmeyer Steel Plant Closing Scenario
The scenario of a plant closing in the United States in order to relocate to another country is a common occurrence in the current economy. ...

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This post contains a formatted MS Word file, written on the application of ethical philosophy in the business decision making process.