Writing Exercise Two: Ethical Theory
Directions: Imagine that you work for an ethics consulting firm that has as its charge the task of developing an analysis and judgment for each of the four cases below.
Please delete any instructions and case descriptions before you turn your assignment in. I do not need these back. I want only your work turned in. (2) Type your work directly into the form within the various spaces provided. (3) When you have completed the exercise and are ready to submit it for grading, upload it into the submissions area of the course, found at the same location where you downloaded this exercise. Provide answers for all parts of this exercise. Be sure to keep a copy on file for yourself. The completed exercise is worth a possible 100 points. Points will be deducted for work that is turned in late.
Each analysis must raise issues of empirical fact, conceptual ideas and ethical principles. Points will be take off if you mix up, or fail to raise issues in all three of these areas. Points will also be taken off if you start drawing conclusions and making judgments within your analysis section.
Each judgment must be clearly supported by both reasons and evidence. Points will be take off if you mix up, or fail to provide, both of these types of support.
When you have completed the exercise, you should have four analyses and judgments. Be sure to read and study all the sample analyses and judgments that I give to you. These will hopefully help you to “see” what you should be doing, as well as the amount of depth and development that I want to see within your analyses and judgments. The grade for each case will not be tied to whether I agree with your point of view or any conclusions that you arrive at within your point of view. But points will be taken off for work that is sloppy, superficial and/or poorly written. Contact me if you have questions.
Use a form like this to clearly organize your work:
Analysis: (clearly identify all three types of issues that need to be raised.)
Judgment: This is your conclusion for what you believe to be the ethical thing to do for this case. Do not offer any support for your judgment here.
Supporting Evidence: In this section you will supply allof the empirical information (facts) that you can offer in support for your judgment. This evidence can come from the case description. It can also be any additional evidence that you supply. Since these are all hypothetical cases you can “make up” new evidence that goes beyond what is given in your case description. As long as this evidence is something that could have been discovered within actual research of a case it is acceptable. When dealing will ‘real” cases, we must go out and find out what the “real” facts are. However, the emphasis within this exercise is on critical thinking within ethics, not on research skills. To do this sort of work within the real world, both skill sets are necessary. But our emphasis will be only on developing yourcritical thinking skills.
Supporting Reasons: In this section you will supply all ofthe “non” empirical claims (concepts and principles) that you are offering as support for your judgment. In your analysis, you should have uncovered at least a couple of concepts that you believe need to be defined, (for example, the difference between a “gift” and a “bribe,” when dealing with people from other cultures, within international business). Here you will offer your definitions as part of your reasons for your judgment. If you want to take a definition already in use, this is fine. No need to footnote. But be sure that you offer at least one clearly stated ethical principle, as a main reason for your judgment. Ethical judgments must be based on ETHICS as well as facts. An ethical judgment without an ethical principle behind it is like lemonade without any real lemons in it! Imitation at best andfraudulent at worst.
Case One: A lawyer has come to your ethics committee for advice. He has taken on a client accused of the violent rape and beating of a 16-year-old girl. The beating was so severe that the girl sustained eight broken bones and the loss of one of her eyes. During the course of the trial this lawyer has come to “feel” that his client is guilty of this crime and that he is a very dangerous person who is likely to commit similar crimes, if he is found innocent of the charges against him. The lawyer believes that if he does the very best job that he can as this man's defense lawyer, the man will be found not guilty. The lawyer is considering doing a poor job in order to have him found guilty, hoping that while he is in prison he will receive therapy, which will make him less dangerous when he is finally released.
Ethically speaking, as both a lawyer and a businessperson, what should he do?
For this case you must take the moral framework ofmoral egoism. However, if you can bring in principles from other moral frameworks as reasons to help support your judgment then feel free to do so. Generally speaking, judgments based on more than one type of principle are much stronger than judgments restricted to only one point of view.
Case Two: A project director for a medical research company needs your advice. The livelihood of her company relies on money from research grants. But she is having complicated feeling about a current rather large grant, which funds a controversial piece of research is currently underway at her company. The research is investigating the transmission of the AIDS virus from mothers to their fetuses, by infecting female monkeys with the disease. This is done on monkeys already pregnant and on monkeys before they become pregnant. The latter group is then at various intervals impregnated through artificial insemination. There is no doubt that this research is causing suffering for the monkeys. However, most of the researchers in hergroup don't “feel” that the monkeys are being caused undue harm at watching their babies being born sick and then taken away from them. In private, some of them admit that this would be the proper subject for an expert in animal behavior to study. As biologists, theysay that they are not in the best position to judge. Basically, their response to criticism is "Monkeys are not people, and, therefore, don't have the rights of people."
A group called The Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) is trying through the courts to get this research stopped. They claim that it is poorly designed and is violating the monkeys' rights. If her company cancels this research project, quite a bit of money may have to be returned to donors. So far, the PR for your company has released only a very brief statement to the press saying that: “We are breaking no laws. Animals have been used for research for a long time. Animal research is necessary to scientific progress.” Perhaps ethics requires this research to be reconsidered.
As project director this person has to make a decision, which she will need to justify to hersuperiors. She needs advice from you as to whether this is an unethical violation of the monkeys' rights, or an unfortunate, yet necessary, sacrifice for the benefit of human beings? In the name of ethics, should this research be stopped? Or, should it be allowed to continue?
For this case you must take the moral framework ofutilitarianism. However, if you can bring in principles from other moral frameworks as reasons to help support your judgment then feel free to do so. Generally speaking, judgments based on more than one type of principle are much stronger than judgments restricted to only one point of view.
Case Three: A town council has come to your ethics-consulting firm for advice. Within their town there is a group circulating a petition that is trying to block the building of a fifty unit low-income housing project. The petition claims that the proposed building site is a natural habitat for several species of animals. However, the town council “feels” that the actual motive is to keep low-income people out of the community. People are afraid that a low-income population will bring crime into the area and will bring down the property values. The town council also suspects that in addition there may be some prejudice against people of color who would make up a large percentage of the low-income group. The people circulating the petition are friends and neighbors of the people elected to the town council, and they expect the council to help them. Although the council shares their concerns somewhat, they are uncomfortable with what is going on. If they act to block the housing project, just because they have the power to do so, they are afraid that they may be acting on the premise that "might makes right," and that as long as they can get away with something then its okay to do it.
They need your firm to help them decide what they should do. If they help with the petition are theydoing what is best for the community, or are theyhelping to promote prejudice? And even if they "feel" that it's best for the community, is this enough to make it ethically right?
For this case you must take the moral framework ofKantian ethics. However, if you can bring in principles from other moral frameworks as reasons to help support your judgment then feel free to do so. Generally speaking, judgments based on more than one type of principle are much stronger than judgments restricted to only one point of view.
Case Four: The government of Bangladesh has just hired your firm. The largest Bangladesh factory fire in recent times killed 112 people in November 2012. This horrible incident raises once again the dilemma of who bears responsibility in such a tragedy. As we examine this case, we have singled out specific players who might bear significant responsibility for this particular event. The Bangladeshi government has the dual responsibility of taking care of its citizens as well as maintaining its economy by supporting the $20 billion a year garment industry that serves as 80% of its total export earnings. The workers, mostly women, earn as little as $37 per month and depend on the government for their safety; however, corruption runs rampant in Bangladeshi politics and the country is currently ranked 142nd out of a 176 countries according to the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index. In this case, there are also implications of arson to further political interests of specific parties. Additionally, the owner of the factory constructed five more illegal floors beyond the original structure, and the factory location was in an area that large vehicles, specifically fire trucks, could not easily enter. Major international retailers have often been criticized for not taking responsibility for their subcontractors; companies whose products were produced at this particular factory include major retailers such as Wal-Mart and Sears.
Do you think that it is the government’s ethical dutyto enforce safety regulations and bring these factories up to date, or should more be done by multinational corporations that use these factories in order to ensure the safety of their supply chain employees?
For this case you must take any moral framework, or combination of moral frameworks that you want. Again, keep in mind that if you can bring in principles from more than one moral framework as reasons to help support your judgment then this makes your judgment stronger.
A Bill of Rights For Employees
Part One: Imagine that you are on an ethics committee, charged with the task of putting together a “bill of rights” for workers and employees. Assume that you have absolute power to do this, and that there is no higher legal or political authority that you must recognize or put yourself under, as you formulate your policy. The only powers higher than your own, are the ethical principles that you will be using to determine what is morally right and morally wrong. You must use your powers of reasoning and argument to determine what these principles are, and what employee rights follow from these principles.
Submit your work at the same location where you downloaded this exercise. Provide answers for all parts of this exercise. Be sure to keep a copy on file for yourself. The completed exercise is worth a possible 100 points. Points will be deducted for work that is turned in late.
Declaration or Principles: Within this part of your ethics policy you must begin to articulate an answer to these questions: What are a person’s ethical rights when they take a job? At what point shouldfederal labor laws protect these rights? In other words, although we should treat people ethically,especially if we have power over them, to what extent do others have a right to force us to treat others ethically with laws and regulations? Be explicit as to whether the perspective that you are taking, and the ethical principles that you are using to form your policy guidelines, is egoistic, Kantian/Natural Law, utilitarian, or a blending of these orientations.
Guideline One: The right to due process, when considering disciplinary action and/or employment termination. If this is a right then to implement it, the rules for a formal enquiry must be written down and publically accessible. The employee has a right to hear the charges against him or her, to see the evidence supporting these charges, and to have a designated representative speak for the employee. This employee right tells employers that they have anethical duty to prove that they have a good reason for disciplining and/or firing an employee.
Guideline Two: The right to a living wage. A worker who has highly marketable abilities and skills, a trained and licensed accountant or a skilled tech person, for example may be able to received compensation greater than a mere living wage. Some people’s skills are in such demand (brain surgeons, “A” list actors, professional athletes, etc., that they can earn far and beyond a living wage. These incomes are something a person can strive for; but they are not considered to be ethical rights. In contrast, an ethical right to a living wage tells all workers and employees that as long as they are doing their job well, they have a right to be compensated above something equivalent to slave labor.
Guideline Three: Unfair and unwarranted discrimination occurs when (1) a type of harm is done to the person discriminated against, and (2) the general criteria used, as the basis for the discrimination, is not ethically justifiable. Job discrimination based on relevant experience isusually not unfair even though harm may be done, since the criteria for choice is usually justifiable- unless experience was not especially relevant to the job in question. A job sweeping the floor, for example. But job discriminations based on race, sex or religions are almost always examples ofwrongful discrimination, since the criteria for making the choice is usually ethically unjustifiable. But there can always be the odd case. Suppose, for example, the job was for selling Bibles with a store that sold noting but Christian merchandise. Would it be ethical to require the clerk that you are hiring be Christian? Sex discrimination is usually considered unfair. But suppose you are hiring cocktail servers for a bar where men want to see women servers only. In this case, would it be unfair to discriminate against men who apply for the job. Is “customer preference” an ethical criterion? Suppose further the customers do not want to see any non-Caucasian servers. How far can we go with “customer preferences” as criteria, and still remain ethical? Just because we have a “reason” for discriminating this is not enough. The question here is what constitutes a “good” reason, an “ethical” reason.
When we consider the ethics of any act of discrimination the question always is whether thecriteria used are fair or unfair. How should we draw this line? Which criteria are acceptable, and which ones are not?
Part Two: When you are have completed your bill of rights, use it to make judgments for the three cases below. For this exercise it is not necessary that you analyze your cases, just judge them.
Each judgment must be clearly supported by both reasons and evidence. Your evidence should be taken from the case description, as well as any other relevant facts that you wish to add. Just be sure that you are offering FACTS as evidence, not assumptions, speculations, judgments or anything that should be offered as reasons, rather than as evidence.
Your reasons must make clear and explicit reference to your ethics policy. Don’t continue to offer evidence within your reasons section. Also, be sure that you are not offering some form of you judgment as a reason for your judgment. This is “circular reasoning” and is a big no no within logic. Points will be take off if you mix up your reasons and your evidence, or fail to provide, both of types of support for your judgment.
When you have completed the exercise, you should have one ethics policy and three judgments. The grade for your policy and for your judgments eachwill not be tied to whether I agree or disagree with your point of view or any conclusions that you arrive at within your point of view. But points will be taken off for work that is sloppy, superficial and/or poorly written. Contact me if you have questions.
Use a form like this to clearly organize your work:
Part One: Ethics Policy
Declaration of Principles:
Part Two: Judgments
Judgment: Two or three simple declarativestatements should be enough. Do not put any reasons or evidence here.
Supporting Evidence: Empirical facts relevant to your judgment, coming from the case as well as any additional relevant information that you may want to add. Do not offer assumptions, speculations, perceptions, feelings, hunches, gossip, intuitions,revelations, judgments, etc., as evidence.
Supporting Reasons: Relevant quotes from the principles and/or guidelines within your ethics policy. Do not and any additional evidence here. Do not reiterate your judgment. If you use your judgment or some form of your judgment, then you will be arguing in a circle.
Case One: The Right to Due Process
One month has now passed since a diamond-studded watch was noticed missing from the cases in the jewelry department of this retail store. External theft has already been ruled out, and Mike has been studying the videotapes made by closed circuit TV that day. Mike comes into Susan’s office to report his findings from the investigation of the missingwatch. He tells her his department has studied the tapes and cannot determine who stole the watch but that only one employee, Todd, handled the watch that day. Although Mike knows that failing a lie-detector test cannot be used to dismiss Todd, he points out that Todd was the only one to fail the test when asked if he stole the watch. Since Mike cannot close this investigation without a suspect, he proposes that Susan look through Todd’s employment file to determine if there are any alternative reasons for firing this employee.
After diligent examination of Todd’s file, Susan notices that his application and sworn bonding form do not exactly reflect the same prior information such as previous employment. Under the company’s rules, this may be grounds for termination. However,Susan never would have noticed it had it not been for Mike’s zeal to pin the theft on Todd. Susan also notices that Mike’s performance is based on his ability to catch internal thieves. Susan does not think it is fair to let Todd continue working if he did steal the watch; however, she is not sure of his guilt.
What should Susan do from this point forward? She has the legal right to fire Todd right now. She believes that it would not be difficult to replace him. And it would be easier to do that, rather than conduct an investigation. But would this be the ethical way to proceed?
Case Two: The Right to a “Living Wage.”
April 4th, 2013. Fast-food restaurants were a little bit slower Thursday in New York City. Hundreds of workers staged a one-day strike in what organizers are calling the biggest job action ever in that industry. It's a growing segment of the economy, but workers complain that fast-food jobs don't pay enough to survive in New York City. The current minimum wage in New York is $7.25. That's what many fast-food workers in the city earn, including Joseph Barrera, who works at a KFC restaurant in Brooklyn. He thinks fast-food companies can afford to treat their employees better. "We help them earn those billions of dollars that give them the lifestyle that the CEOs get. They earn million-dollar paychecks, so why can't they give us something that we can live on?" says Barrera. This is the second time workers at fast-food restaurants around the city have walked off the job in the past six months.
Jonathan Westin is a campaign manager for Fast Food Forward, the group that organized both strikes. It's calling for fast food restaurants to pay a so-called living wage of $15 an hour. "It's not teenagers working after-school jobs," says Westin. "It's adults with families that are trying to take care of their kids and can't put food on the table. They can work here for 10, 15 years and still be making the same wages as when they started." Shenise Hendricks and Lourdy Eferance have both worked at a Wendy's restaurant in Brooklyn for four years. Hendricks is paid $8 an hour and Eferance is paid $7.50 an hour. They say that it's a struggle to live in New York on this salary. And Wendy's isn't an easy place to work, says Hendricks. For example, if she tries to call in sick to work, she gets written up. Wendy's declined to comment for this story. In fact, none of the fast-food companies we called wanted to be interviewed.
In a statement, a spokesman for Burger King says the company has provided "an entry point into the work-force for millions of Americans," including many who went on to be franchise owners.The National Restaurant Association says the industry provides more than 13 million jobs — jobs that could be jeopardized if the minimum wage goes up. In a statement, the association says the industry is "one of the best paths to achieving the American Dream." But that dream remains out of reach for people like Gregory Renoso, who makes minimum wage as a deliveryman for Domino's Pizza. "People like me, we don't have education to get a better job," says Renoso. "We have to do the fast-food industry. But the fast-food industry [doesn't] pay." According to strike organizer Westin, the fast-food industry is one of the few sectors of the economy that are growing quickly. Tens of thousands of fast-food workers are employed in New York alone. "Folks can't just move on to other jobs," says Westin. "If they could, they probably would have, because the conditions are so bad. The problem is, these are the jobs that are out there. There's really nowhere to go." And while corporations are recovering, the working class is not, he adds. New York's minimum wage is already set to rise to $9 an hour over the next three years. But according to Westin, that change will be too little, too late for many of those who are striking today.
Assume that fast food corporations like Wendy’s, McDonalds, Burger King, Dominoes Pizza, etc., can afford to pay their workers $15.00 an hour, and to guarantee qualified workers a 40 hour work week. Assume further that this will provide a living wage for a fast food worker. Do the workers have an ethical right to this wage? If they do, do they have a right to have this living wage protected by law? Or, do they only have a right to form unions that will try to obtain this wage through negotiation and, possibly, throughlabor strikes?
Case Three: The Right to Protection from UnfairDiscrimination
A 70-year-old pharmacist at a Honolulu K-Mart store believes that she was treated unethically. Over the course of four years, a pharmacy manager openly professed on several occasions that the pharmacist was 'too old,' that she 'should just retire,' and that “she was putting the public at risk, if she made a mistake with a prescription.” The pharmacist has not been discovered to have made any mistakes in the prescriptions that she fills; but she does say that her memory is “not what it used to be.” In an effort to make her retire, the manager told her, 'The pharmacy is no longer your forte' and 'You need to retire from pharmacy work now.'
Is this a case of unfair age discrimination? Should we, as a society, be tolerant or accepting of “old” people who want to keep working? Or, is the manager ethical to single out the pharmacist and try to force her into retirement, which is a type of condemnation?
Extra credit: Find a different kind of case, one that raises a different type of issue from the ones already covered in this exercise, regarding the topic of employee rights. The right to unionize would be an obvious one to look for. Compose a few questions that, when answered, will form a fourth policy guideline. Answer your questions, and then judge your case based on this new guideline. Make sure that the guideline is general, and not specific to the particular case that you are judging. If relevant, you can also use ideas from your other guidelines as part of the reasons that you will offer to support your judgment. Worth a possible 20 extra creditpoints.
|Due By (Pacific Time)||04/18/2014 12:00 am|
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