This is “Summary and Exercises”, section 2.5 from the book The Legal Environment and Business Law (v. 1.0).
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Doing good business requires attention to ethics as well as law. Understanding the long-standing perspectives on ethics—utilitarianism, deontology, social contract, and virtue ethics—is helpful in sorting out the ethical issues that face us as individuals and businesses. Each business needs to create or maintain a culture of ethical excellence, where there is ongoing dialogue not only about the best technical practices but also about the company’s ethical challenges and practices. A firm that has purpose and passion beyond profitability is best poised to meet the needs of diverse stakeholders and can best position itself for long-term, sustainable success for shareholders and other stakeholders as well.
Consider again Milton Friedman’s article.
Consider again the Harris v. Forklift case at the end of Chapter 1 "Introduction to Law and Legal Systems". The Supreme Court ruled that Ms. Harris was entitled to be heard again by the federal district court, which means that there would be a trial on her claim that Mr. Hardy, owner of Forklift Systems, had created a “hostile working environment” for Ms. Harris. Apart from the legal aspects, did he really do anything unethical? How can you tell?
Assume that the year is 1963, prior to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Title VII provisions regarding equal employment opportunity that prohibit discrimination based on sex. So, Mr. Hardy’s actions are not illegal, fraudulent, or deceitful. Assume also that he heads a large public company and that there is a large amount of turnover and unhappiness among the women who work for the company. No one can sue him for being sexist or lecherous, but are his actions consistent with maximizing shareholder returns? Should the board be concerned?
Notice that this question is really a stand-in for any situation faced by a company today regarding its CEO where the actions are not illegal but are ethically questionable. What would conscious capitalism tell a CEO or a board to do where some group of its employees are regularly harassed or disadvantaged by top management?
Milton Friedman would have been most likely to agree to which of the following statements?
Milton Friedman meant (using the material quoted in this chapter) that companies should
What are some key drawbacks to utilitarian thinking at the corporate level?
Which ethical perspective would allow that under certain circumstances, it might be ethical to lie to a liar?
Under conscious capitalism,