What is an Ethical Choice?
Lately, ethics issues are studied more often. Ethical concerns influence all spheres of contemporary life. More frequently ethical concerns arise in the sphere of business. There are many cases in the history of business which had become exemplary. Monsanto, Chevron, and Phillip Morris – these names occur to mind when talking about business ethics. A list of unethical behavior includes bribery, unfair marketing, hidden costs, producing genetically modified seeds, and environmental issues.
Why one should be ethical? What makes people behave unethically? Is it easy to make an ethical choice? I will try to answer these questions in this paper.
In accordance with Businessdictionary (n.d.), ethics is interpreted as “fundamental principles of right human conduct” (n.p.). It sometimes is seen as obedience to law, compliance with generally accepted values, and aspiration for all stakeholders’ benefit.
Sometimes even formal obedience to generally accepted rules does not mean ethical behavior. Sometimes ethical choice is beyond laws and rules.
As it follows from a discussion, ethics is often perceived as morality, concerns behavioral rules, and is a theoretical concept (St James Ethics Center, n.d.). Sometimes people justify them for unethical deeds thinking that “everybody is doing so”, “this is the only way do things in this environment”, or “then it was a good idea to do so”. Ethical choice is about acting ethically because this is the only way to do something disregard of what other people do when being in similar situation. Ethical choice is about willpower and acting ethically in any situation that occurs. One should understand that ethics is not a pure theory or written formal ethical code; it should be regularly practiced.
Ethical norms may significantly vary in different cultures. In general, all of the nations have something in common in their ethical insights, but those insights may also differentiate from each other. These distinctions may cause tension in ethical decision making in a multicultural environment.
Sometimes principles could be valid when taken separately, but represent a bad combination all together that could make a tension. For example, selection of seeds means progress in biology and innovation. Working on increase of crops helps feeding the nation. On the other hand, selection of genetically modified seeds and foodstuff made of these primary products is dangerous for the people health.
Comparing morality and ethics is insensible because morality relates personal character while ethics concerns social linkage. The rules established may be useless because ethical choice is not always obvious. It is generally accepted that telling truth is good. But not everyone takes into account that telling truth may be harmful for one of the parties involved in ethical dilemma. For this reason an ethical choice represents the least bad alternative. Thus, usually, an ethical choice means a complex choice (Frenz, 2011).
Ethical issues concern the nature and quality of social relationships. It often happens that good reputation of the company, stakeholders’ interests, and even further existence of the company are at stake.
Every agency has to have its own ethical code and management ethical plan which would describe why one should be ethical. There must no be any exceptions from the rule: ethical rules must be strictly obeyed. There must not be “soft rules” because some people would think that an exception to the rule is possible. At the same time, it is important to understand the reason of unethical behavior and eliminate the reasons of misconduct.
Ethics Definition and Meaning. (n.d.). In Businessdictionary. Retieved from http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/ethics.html
Frenz, R. (2011, January 05). How to Understand Business Ethics. eHow. Retrieved from http://www.ehow.com/how_7733543_understand-business-ethics.html
St James Ethics Center, (n.d.). Understanding Ethics. Retrieved from http://www.ethics.org.au/content/understanding-ethics#2