As a human being like Bernard Madoff, he is a businessperson with immoral business conduct. His immoral business conduct is a result of his defective character. He desired for power, fame, money, and abundant lifestyle. All his ambition became a vanity that created a trap and nothing left for him is the difficulty to break free. Moral philosophers categorized his character as vices. Vices are the perfect opposite of virtues. Vices are bad habits of character with its consequence of a serious moral weakening. It is being unjust, intemperate, overambitious, immodest, and deceitful. It shows that Madoff has lacked of virtues. Virtues are good habits of character with its consequence of morally proper behavior. Madoff do not have the virtues of justice, temperance, restraint, modesty, and truthfulness.
Virtue theory is the view that morality is grounded in the virtuous character traits that people acquire. People have natural desires for happiness, and tend to drift down to pleasures. These pleasurable activities can develop possible distinct habits such overindulgence, insensibility, and temperance. According to Aristotle, virtues and vices matched the schemes; there is a natural urge, a vice of excess, a vice of deficiency, and a virtue at the middle position between the two extremes. For example, the virtue of courage, it is driven by natural fear of danger. To an excess, it develops the vice of rashness, where persons lose fears of danger and rush into dangerous conditions that cause death. A lacking in courage, persons become hesitant and build up the vice of cowardliness. Courage has a virtuous middle ground, respecting the danger beforehand, however, when the circumstances are right, the person raises above all his fears.
Virtuous habits and vicious habits are developed during childhood that is to cultivate good habits and avoid bad habits. In addition, parents have much responsibility to shape the virtuous habits of their children. Adulthood is the period where a person has its own responsibility to mold his virtuous characters. It is not easy to find the perfect middle ground; however, the moral person can figure it out well. In the case of Madoff, he did not find it because his desires are all consuming that the virtue of temperance is out of reach for him.
In the case of Plurk, a small computer software company accused Microsoft of computer code theft. More or less 80% of the code products of Microsoft’s are lifted openly from blogging software generated by Plurk. Microsoft admitted and apologized that the liability rested with an outside company it had hired to develop the blogging software, an outside company copied Plurk’s computer code. Microsoft zealously guards against software piracy and code theft of its own products. In this condition, there is no moral gray area. Theft is wrong, the evidence for code theft is obviously true, and Microsoft had no choice but to admit it right away and make an apology.
Duty theory is the position that moral standards are grounded in natural obligation or duty that people has. The case in Microsoft draw attention to the truth that there are some beliefs of morality that evidently endorsed and recognized accordingly. Particularly, there is one moral theory that emphasized the apparent and spontaneous nature of moral principles. Duty theory is also known as deontological theory; people are all born with basic moral principles or rooted guidelines, and people use the principles and guidelines to judge the morality of actions of the people.
In addition, duty theory has two approaches, long catalog of instinctive obligations, and a single instinctive principle of duty that we all should follow. Kant offered one principle of moral duty, the categorical imperative, or absolute command. Categorical imperative emphasized that treat people as an end, and never merely as a mean to an end. Within the categorical imperative has two parts pointed out by Kant; treating people as ends that have value in and of themselves and should not treat people as things that have mere instrumental value.
In the world of business, there are times when actions are obvious to be wrong that there is no single point to defend it to be right. It is true to Madoff and the Microsoft, admitted right away the crime committed when the company ruined.
Businesses make decisions based on a cost-benefit analysis. The cost-benefit analysis is the distinguished feature of moral theory of utilitarianism. Actions are morally right if the results are more favorable than unfavorable to the public. To determine the morality of actions, all good and bad actions should be listed; it determines which side is weightier and judges the actions right if the good actions outweigh the bad actions.
There are three components of utilitarianism; these are consequences, focuses on the consequences of happiness and unhappiness, and assess the beneficial consequences of actions. First component emphasizes consequences. To view morality in the will of God entails that people have special abilities to know the thoughts of God. To view morality in the sense of right and wrong or natural duties requires that people have special mental faculty and know how to use them appropriately. According to Bentham, a scientific approach to morality appeared only at the facts that every person can clearly see, and outcomes of action are those facts. Bentham added that not all utilitarians go that far, however, it highlights the central role that observed consequences play in the utilitarian conception of morality publicly.
The second component focuses on the consequences of happiness and unhappiness. Businesses assess costs and benefits in terms of financial gains and losses while utilitarianism focuses on how our actions affect human happiness. Bentham emphasized pleasure and pain while others emphasized goodness and badness, and overall benefit and the contrary. Utilitarianism and businesses have something familiar; the moral conducts are in some way linked with human pleasure and immoral conduct with misery. The third component assesses the beneficial consequences of actions as everyone is affected. It is reflected in utilitarianism’s famous motto that people should seek the greatest good for the greatest number of people.
Businesspeople are familiar with financial cost-benefit analysis while utilitarianism is a natural way to make moral assessments with business decisions.
Visayan Forum Foundation, Inc
Visyan Forum Foundation, Inc. (VF) is one of the non-profit organizations in the Philippines founded by Maria Cecilia Oebanda in 1991. The organization focuses on how actions affect human happiness and ground morality in conscience or instinctive duties requires that people have special mental faculties and know how to use them properly.
The organization exerts their efforts on issues regarding domestic work, child labor, and human trafficking focusing to women and children. They set up and strengthen many interventions for victims of trafficking and abusive domestic works. In addition, VF is actively involved in helping women and children by providing supports in all aspects, education, housing, and legal advices.
Jollibee Foods Corporation
Jollibee Foods Corporation or Jollibee is one the largest fast food chains in the Philippines that operates over 750 stores nationwide. The company embarked on international expansions in other countries aggressively. The company is grounded to instinctive obligations, and a single instinctive principle of duty that they follow. The company has the set of values they strictly follow such as excellence, customer focus, teamwork, respect for the individual, humility to listen and learn, spirit of family and fun, frugality, and honesty and integrity. The natural principle of duty that the company has is their FSC standard. The F or Food is served to the customer that meets the standards of the company, the (S) or Service is fast and courteous, and C or Cleanliness from the kitchen to all utensils are always maintained. Jollibee is confident to say that the company and its employees carry out their respective jobs well.
The three of the punishments that corporations undergo the moment they acted in unethical way:
- Tax evasion
For Profit organization:
- Labor relations
- Sub-standard food
- Sanitary issues
Commonly, nonprofit organizations lack the budget to bring in an external auditor to evaluate the funds of the group regularly. It creates a lack of supervision to hold financial fraud and funds abuses. When the in-house accounting department is in charge to audit the books without the outside help, it is simple to see the ongoing negligence of public funds. The punishment depends on the brutality of the crime. The offense is viewed as grave, and a person can land in jail.
A nonprofit organization enjoys a number of tax incentives, and little error over how they spend the funds. Consequently, the services they are supposed to be providing are not funded properly.
Tax evasion is a serious ethical problem that the Internal Revenue Service is continually facing. A nonprofit group consistently uses their status to promote political issues illegally; act in manners that are contradictory with their stated purposes, and fall short to report not linked business income annually. The offense is regarded very serious and can land a person in jail.
The corporation pays under minimum wage to employees or workers. The government penalized company owners for failing to pay minimum wage or overtime; they imposed stiff fines and imprisonment.
The consumptions of substandard goods such as beverages, foods, and cosmetics lead to illness and sometimes death. To fight for substandard goods on the market needs a thorough effort by all stakeholders that includes the media as part of their social responsibility. Government ordered lead agencies to provide the leadership needed including innovative mechanisms to deal with this problem. Substandard goods fail of its minimum set standards to guard the health and safety of the customers, environment, and prevention of deceitful practices.
Three threats to running an ethical corporation:
- Perfectly free markets insure maximum social benefits had better than anything else
- Loyal Agent's Argument
- Business ethics is essentially just obeying the law
Perfectly free markets insure maximum social benefits had better than anything else did; it consists of the pros and cons. For the Loyal Agent's Argument, arise the arguments and objections of inconsistency and assumptions. Lastly, the business ethics is essentially just obeying the law implies that possible pros and cons will occur on legality and morality. Most hold there is a prima facie moral obligation to obey the law.