Ethical Theories Of Ethical Decision Making

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1. Introduction

Business Ethics is made up of a wide range of ethical principles or morals that arise in the business setting. In order to ethically govern the business, a lot of decision making has to take place. These ethical decisions will need to be made to put the companies’ principles into motion. There needs to be a background of ethics in order for ethical decisions to be made. The purpose of this study is to discuss the ethical decision making processes and to do so, theories and models used by businesses in this process need to be studied. Since this study revolves around ethics, there’s a need to clearly define business ethics, which according to Crane and Mattern (2010:5), is studying business situations, activities and decisions
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The moral quality of each option is to be assessed here and this can be done by studying the three ethical theories, virtue ethics, utilitarianism and universal ethics. Ghillyer (2007:6-7)’s summary of these theories is what is to follow.
Utilitarian view is the first theory was proposed by David Hume, a Scottish philosopher. This is focused on the result of the deed rather than the virtue of the task itself. It aims to find the option that produces most happiness for the greatest number of people. This view is solely aimed at happiness and if it is to be used as a criteria for choice, the option which produces the most amount of happiness would be the right one.
The next theory is the virtue theory which was created by the Greek philosopher, Aristotle. Ghillyer (2007: 6) elaborates this theory to be focused on integrity and living life according to a commitment to the achievement of a clear ideal. With regard to a business, the right choice would be the one congruent to a businesses’ core strategies and the values of the
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The presence of ethical dilemmas in businesses triggered the need for ethical decisions to be made and as such, the framework for making these ethical decisions was elaborated upon. Some ethical theories such as Virtue, Utilitarian and Deontological theory were discussed to also aid in the assessment of the alternative actions to be taken. It can be concluded, that ethical decision making in a business is not easy and the final decision made falls down to the business’ core strategies and values. Problems encountered during this study were the struggle to complete it in the given amount of time and with that, the struggle to find more sources of information regarding the topic. A recommendation would be that right steps should be followed during decision making and conclusions should not be made before possible outcomes are weighed. The last recommendation regarding future assignments would be to carry out an empirical study of people’s values and their views on
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