Ethical Obligations Essay, Research Paper
I believe that the ethical rules of everyday life, should be applied to everything in life. The exceptions to this however, are the games where rules specifically contradict today?s ethical code, and are mutually understood, and agreed upon by all participants. Some feel that business is a game on the basis that games involve a level of deception, but their reasoning is inaccurate. In addition, even when there is a mutual understanding, there is an ethical line that can be crossed, and a problem arises when an ethical rule is mistaken for a legal rule. In the world of business, deception occurs, and is considered a standard. This often leads people to believe that it is permitted and that the ethical rules of everyday life do not apply to the business world, but they are mistaken.
Stated that buying Christmas presents causes Christmas to come, it would be like saying that deception causes business to be like a game, which is valid. What would not be valid however is if in the next breath, you stated that BECAUSE Christmas is coming, you should now go buy Christmas presents, which is like saying that because business is a game, you should therefore deceive. It is a circular argument with a post hoc fallacy. Therefore, I cannot reason with Carr that business bluffing is ethical on all standards because business is not simply a game. I see business as a way to make a living, where the opportunity to lie does exist, but does not have to be present.
Carson?s second thesis is the following:
?It is usually permissible to misstate one?s bargaining position or settlement preferences when one has good reason to think that one?s negotiating partner is doing the same and it is usually impermissible to misstate one?s negotiating position if one does not have good reason to think that the other party is misstating her position.?(Carson pg. 457)
I do not agree with Carson on this point. Two wrongs do not make a right. If you are being lied to, it does not make it ethical for you to lie back. For example, if you know that your neighbor is sneaking in to your back yard garden and stealing your tomatoes, it does not give you the right to sneak in to his back yard and steal his laundry that is hanging out to dry. If you know that someone is misstating his or her position, either ignore it and continue on with business, or if that is not possible, confront him or her about the lie.
Another issue to examine is what constitutes an unethical practice. Carr takes the stand that as long as businesses are acting in accordance with the law, they are not doing anything wrong. He states,
?If the laws governing their business change, or if public opinion becomes clamorous, they will make the necessary adjustments. But morally, they have in their view done nothing wrong. As long as they comply with the letter of the law, they are within their rights to operate their businesses as they see fit.?(Carr pg.454)
This is not a sound argument. For example, abortion is legal, but this does not necessarily mean that it is ethical to do so. On the reverse side, euthanasia is illegal, but is it ethical to keep someone suffering from a debilitating disease where every moment is spent in excruciating pain and the patient has no chance of ever recovering? Trying to decide what is and what is not ethical should not be done on the basis of what is legal and what is not. Carson backs up this notion by stating, ?the fact that an action or practice is permitted by the law does not suffice to establish its moral permissibility.?(Carson pg.461) Likewise, lying is not illegal, and any ethical person would not blatantly lie to someone?s face. Nevertheless, businesspersons engage in lying on a regular basis in order to succeed. It may be done, but it is not ethical to do so, and the ethical rules of everyday life should be followed.
Business was never intended to have an element of deception. It just so happens that when deception is used, it can bring in a larger profit, or greater business success. Lawyers for example push the boundaries of ethical acceptance on a regular basis, and everyone knows that. Carr gives the example that ?everyone from the judge down takes it for granted that the job of the defendants attorney is to get his client off, not to reveal the truth??(Carr pg. 451) I do not disagree with Carr?s observation, but I think that an observation is all it is. I do not think that it allows lawyers to be unethical for the sake of winning a case. I think that it is a pity that the legal system has come to that. The initial intent of our court system was to uncover the truth. However, greed pushes back the line of what is ethical and what is not. I agree that the term ?honest lawyer? is an oxymoron, and if one did exist, he or she would not be as successful as the devils advocate.
I do not agree with the use of deception and trickery in daily business practices, however, it is done. It is very unfortunate that lying takes place, and that good decent people that would not otherwise lie are forced to be unethical for the purpose of making a dollar. The ethical rules of everyday life should apply to business, and they should be able to extend further than where the arm of the law can reach. Business should not be thought of as a game, nonetheless, in today?s dog eat dog world, only the strong survive. This does not mean that anyone who gets involved in business should have a cutthroat attitude. You can rack up points for style with a club tie, and a firm handshake, however, you shouldn?t try to be trusted by the people that you?ve lied to, just so that when they turn their back, you?ll get the chance to put the knife in.