The fundamental difference between the definition of ethics found in the text and that found in the eBook is that one focuses on conduct while the others focuses on beliefs. On the one hand, ethics can be construed as the principles governing our actions. while on the other hand it can be construed as the principles that provide the framework for our beliefs and values. These are similar in that one’s beliefs often govern one’s actions, but that is not always the case. Thus, the definition I prefer is the one that focuses on actions and behaviors, as opposed to beliefs. In the end, doing the right thing is more ethical than thinking or believing the right thing.
Deciding whose life to trade in exchange for who’s is inherently an unethical decision to make. It requires placing a higher value on certain lives and lower value on others based on immutable characteristics of those individuals, such as age, gender and station in life.
If acting ethically essentially means doing the right thing, there is really no right choice to make in the nuclear fallout shelter exercise. The best one can hope to do in this exercise is to make a utilitarian decision based on who is most likely to live the greatest number of years with greatest quality of life. Yet that basis for a determination is itself unethical because a human life with only a year remaining is arguably no less valuable than one that has just begun. Thus, the exercise presents a true ethical dilemma.
Nevertheless, if forced to make a utilitarian determination of who should be allowed into the fallout shelter, a decision in favor of the pregnant college student and the female child seems to be a no-brainer. The pregnant college student gives you a two-for-one benefit, essentially allowing the decision maker to save five people rather than just four. And the child is the only child among the candidates. It would be in keeping with a long tradition of saving the lives of children first in a dangerous situation to allow her into the shelter. It just feels right to do that.
After that, the decision gets tricky. Since choosing to sacrifice anyone in favor of someone else is inherently unethical, perhaps the only right thing to do would be to draw a lottery to determine which two among those remaining should be allowed into the shelter. In essence, forcing random mathematics to make this decision might alleviate the ethical problem of weighing the value of various human lives.
Trust is important for business on many levels. It is important for customers to trust the businesses they choose to engage when purchasing products and services. It is important for employees to trust that their company will provide a safe and secure work environment that will continue to provide them with a sustainable livelihood. And it is important for the community in which a business operates to trust that the business will operate as a responsible corporate citizen, investing in and strengthening the community as opposed to harming and taking advantage of it.
Trust is closely related to ethical behavior. In fact, the two concepts are inextricably intertwined. Without ethical behavior on the part of a person or entity, it would arguably be impossible to gain the trust of others, who otherwise would have no concrete basis on which to extend that trust. Trust implies a confidence in someone else that they will generally do the right thing and exercise sound judgment when presented with various types of circumstances. Doing the right thing is the essence of what it means to be ethical. In the business context, that means sometimes sacrificing increased profits in order to avoid harm to people or the community.
Such trust can go a long way toward promoting long term goodwill for the business. This can be a key ingredient in establishing long term profitability. Thus, fostering trust by acting ethically is an important long term business strategy for any organization. When that trust is lost, it can put the organization on precarious footing in terms of its ability to remain competitive and profitable over the long haul. To be sure, existing and potential new customers will invariably gravitate over time toward those businesses that they trust the most.
To instill a sense of trust in the organization’s stakeholders, managers must be adept with PR. Of course, doing the right thing and acting ethically is the first step for managers, as it falls on them to make ethical decisions on behalf of the business. However, without a concerted PR effort in which stakeholders are made aware of the ethical actions of the business, they are unlikely to realize the true extent of the basis for trusting the business.