Business Ethics And Deontology Assignment Instructions
Part 1 – Case Study
In the Module 1 Case, we will be exploring the means by which deontological ethics may be used as a useful theoretical lens through which an organization’s sense of business ethics may be critically assessed.
Drawing upon deontological ethics, discuss how Adelphia Communications’ executives violated the trust of the company’s shareholders and the trust of that of the larger public.
Keys to the Assignment:
The key aspects of this assignment that should be covered in your paper include the following:
- Briefly describe the Adelphia Communications scandal.
- Identify and discuss two key ethical problems raised by the Adelphia Communications case.
- Describe what is meant by “deontological ethics” generally (e.g., duty and rights), and by Immanuel Kant’sCategorical Imperative more specifically.
- Apply the deontological framework of business ethics to the two key ethical problems you identified above.
- Apply Kant’s Categorical Imperative to the two key ethical problems you identified above.
Business Ethics and Deontology Ethics
Deontology is a Greek word for “ethics”, whose meaning is moral philosophies aimed at individual rights as well as the intentions of specific behavior, rather than the consequences (White, 2009). Ideally, deontological theories are based on the argument that all individuals must be given equal respect, as rightness should focus on the individual, and not the society. There are two categories of deontological ethics: Rule deontologists and act deontologists.
Rule deontologists focuses on the belief that a person’s ethicalness is determined by considering whether or not they conform to general moral principles (White, 2009). This ethics makes use of reason and logic to come up with rules for how a person should behave. This is achieved by determining the nature of the relationship between the general human rights and the rules set to govern proper conduct.
Act deontologists basically believe that morality or ethicalness of an individual should be determined by their actions. Therefore, an ethical person must use equity, fairness and imparity when acting (White, 2009). The presence of rules are for guidance only, and past experience are what should be relied on when acting on a certain issue. Act deontologists also believe that the knowledge of what is right or wrong, regardless of the consequences is part of the rules. Therefore, an ethical person will not indulge in a wrong act, even if the consequence will not be bad. For example, an ethical person will not lie about someone else, simply because it will not land him in jail.
Before an individual can make the right moral choice, he must first understand his moral duties, and also be aware of the present correct rules governing these duties. When people clearly understand their duties, they are better placed to follow them as expected. This is when they are said to be acting morally. However, when these duties are not clearly understood, it will be difficult to act in the expected manner, thus the result is an individual who is acting immorally. Typically, the duties, rules and obligations of a society are determined by the supreme being; hence acting in a moral way is basically obeying God.
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In the late 18th and early 19th century, the German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) influenced the emergence of a contemporary deontology philosophy. He came up with the “categorical imperative”, which argues that an ethical person will feel comfortable in allowing other people to witness him committing a certain act (Bordum, 2005). It further states that when the rationale for acting in that given manner is suitable for being passed as a universal principle for guiding the behavior, then the person is being ethical.
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Applying Deontological Ethics To The Two Key Ethical Problems
Considering the Adelphia Communications scandal, it can be assumed that the corporation either behaved ethically or unethically, depending on the type of deontological category being used for the argument. Using the rule deontologist, Adelphia Communications Corporation and the Rigas Family behaved unethically. This is because of how they chose to act against the set rules. By manipulating records, the corporation disregarded the financial regulations set by SEC and also the ethical professional practices set by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) (Barlaup, Hanne & Stuart, 2009). Another reason for this is that they decided to ignore the basic rights of the corporations stakeholders as they lied to them, and misused their funds against their knowledge. It is unlawful to lie to get funds from stakeholders, just as it is unacceptable to use their money without their consent.
Using the act deontologist, it is possible that Adelphia Communications acted unethically mainly because of the fact that rules are not divine laws, but rather guidelines. They also acted unethically by justifying their actions as acceptable and just mainly because of the possible past experiences of what was the company’s former compensatory practices. This philosophy is also based on the belief that there is no ethically right answer, until the individual decides for him or herself what is right and wrong. Therefore, with this argument being considered, Act deontologists may not have any grounds for condemning the company and Rigas Family behavior as unethical (White, 2009).
When the behaviors of the company and the Rigas family are considered under the “categorical imperatives” approach, it can be surmised that the key ethical dilemmas identified in the scandal were indeed morally wrong and unethical behavior. This approach emphasizes that although it is not important for the society to agree that a specific action is correct or morally right, it must be in a position to willingly support the choice of making it a universal rule. Therefore, if the society cannot be willed to follow the same rule and action, these will be dismissed as immoral factors
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