This essay looks at different ways certain philosophers would handle ethical dilemmas. It first identifies and discuses two business dilemmas presented in the case scenario. It then explains the role the code of conduct played in the dilemma selection process. The essay determines whether the presence of the code of conduct created either of the dilemmas. It also identifies the common ethical issue categories to which these business dilemmas belong. It then applies the ethical theories of Rand, Kant and Bentham to solve the dilemmas. The essay concludes by comparing results from the theorists and selects a theorist who would be best to solve each of the dilemmas.
The first ethical dilemma involves the tutors for hire model where the tutors would offer services to write papers for a price per page, enter an online classroom taking the place of the student completing all graded assessments. This is because it violates the code of conduct for employees of TU. The code provides that tutors would never agree to do work for the student and would never encourage the student to cheat by creating materials that would be presented as the students’ own work or create templates that answered assessment with little or no work by the student. The addition of the new services creates a business dilemma as it goes against the code of conduct.
The second ethical dilemma involves the promotion of the new services called “Let us Do Your Homework for you.” The commercials on television and radio entice students to purchase papers, videos and other materials arguing that the products would be customized to the requirements of the assignment. This is an ethical dilemma because it goes against the code of conduct. The code prohibits tutors from agreeing to complete assignments for students, but this advertisement provides that the students will be assisted to complete their assignments.
The code of conduct played an important role in the dilemma section process. Without the code of conduct, the two dilemmas would not exist. A code of conduct is a set of rules that outline the roles and responsibilities and the proper conduct of an individual or an organization. It sets out what employees are expected or not expected to do in conducting their affairs within an organization. The code of conduct stipulates that tutors should not agree to work for students or provide work that they would pass as their own without changes or with minimal changes. Without this provision in the code of conduct, the ethical dilemmas would not exist (Ford, & Richardson, 2013).
The first ethical dilemma involves violation of rules. A code of conduct determines what acceptable or unacceptable behavior is for an employee. It governs the decision making process, especially in determining what is right and wrong. It ensures that employees conduct their activities with honesty and integrity. The code of conduct sets out the values an organization wishes to foster in employees and defines the desired behavior. It assists in handling ethical dilemmas encountered by an organization. The first dilemma involves engaging in conduct that is prohibited by the code of conduct.
The second ethical dilemma involves condoning unethical behavior. Unethical behavior is action that falls outside what is considered the proper conduct for an individual. This behavior can occur in the way an employee conducts his or her business within the organization. Allowing employees to engage in unethical conduct can have negative consequences for the organization. The promotion of services that allow tutors to complete assignments for students and encouraging students to cheat by creating materials that they can pass as their own is unethical conduct. Such a situation places the tutors in a compromising g situation with respect to the expectations of the customer (Woiceshyn, 2011).
The ethical dilemma is whether promoting services that allow students to pass work by tutors as their own is right. The ethical theory of Rand takes an objectivist position. She argues for self-interest, which takes an individual’s life and happiness as the highest values and one cannot exist as a servant to the interest of others. The theory provides that the achievement of happiness require rational selfishness. Accordingly, the purpose of morals is to specify what is in an individual’s self-interest and what produces happiness. Rand argues that principal values an individual should adopt are called virtues. She defines a virtue as an acquired trait that has been identified as a good policy. Some of these values include rationality, independence, integrity and justice (Hicks, 2003).
Rand’s ethics identify what is right or wrong based on the value of an individual’s life. It focuses on what is best for an individual in a certain situation. Rand would solve the current ethical dilemma by applying morals that specify an individual’s interest and what produces happiness. In the current situation, what is in the interest of the individuals in the organization would be to increase their revenue and this would justify allowing tutors to provide services that students could pass as their own. The theory provides that the right decisions in a situation involving an ethical dilemma would be one that serves the self-interest of the individual (Hicks, 2003).
Kant’s ethical theory provides that the determination of what is right and wrong is based on the understanding that individuals are free and rational agents who deserve respect. He argues that good will is the only good without qualifications. He points that only the actions performed from duty have a moral worth. Actions performed through inclination alone have no moral worth. He believed in a supreme principle of morality, which he referred as a categorical imperative. This categorical imperative determines what morals are. An imperative in this context is a command and it can be either hypothetical or imperative. Whereas categorical imperatives are unconditional command, hypothetical imperatives are conditional commands that require an individual to have the relevant desire (Kain, 2004).
Morality must be based on a categorical imperative because morality commands and an individual cannot opt out of it or claim that it does not apply to them. Kant provides that the categorical imperative have three formulations. The first is that the imperative must be universal. An act is only permissible if an individual is willing for the maxim should become universal aw. The second formulation provides that humanity is an end in itself and should not be used as a means to an end. This requires that the motives of other individuals be respected. The third formulation is that of autonomy, which follows that an individual has an obligation to respect a categorical imperative because of their rational will (Kain, 2004).
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With respect to the current dilemma, Kant would argue that providing services that would enable students to pass the work of tutors as their own is wrong. This is because this practice violates the categorical imperative, which is an unconditional command. Kant emphasizes the principles behind the actions and not the actions themselves. In this case, providing services that would allow students to pass the work as their own is based on principles that cannot be universalized. Therefore, these actions would be wrong according to Kantian ethics.
Bentham’s ethical theory is based on the utilitarian approach. His argument is that human beings are controlled by pleasure and pain. According to this theory, actions are considered to be good if they increase happiness and reduce pain or suffering. The principle of utility which holds that the greatest happiness for the greatest number is the measure of good and bad form the basis of this ethical theory. The utilitarian approach provides that the best action is the one that maximizes utility. It follows that the consequences of an individual’s actions are the only measure of right and wrong. His argument is that human action is guided by pleasure and pain and approves or disapproves actions based on pleasure or pain associated with the action (Mathis & Shannon, 2009).
Considering Bentham’s ethical theory with respect to the current dilemma would require applying the principle of utility to the situation. The principle of utility provides that the right actions yield the greatest good for the greatest number. In this case, allowing the tutors to provide work that students can pass as their own is right because it yields maximum utility for the greatest number. In this case, the organization, the student and the tutor would derive pleasure from the services. The good that would be derived from the provision of these services would exceed the negative effects. According to Bentham, the right action in this case would be to allow tutors to provide work that students could pass as their own as this action maximizes utility (Mathis & Shannon, 2009).
The best theorist to solve the first dilemma would be Kantian. The dilemma involves violation of rules. Kant’s ethical theory provides that only performed from duty have a moral worth. The rules established by the code of conduct place a duty on the tutor not to provide work that a student can pass as their own or assist students to complete their assignments. This duty has a moral worth because it is an unconditional command that must be respected. The most ethical thing to do in this case would be to follow the code of conduct and refrain from offering services that would violate the code. The best theorist to solve the second dilemma would be Bentham. The second dilemma involves allowing unethical behavior. Bentham’s ethical theory is based on the principle of utility. This principle provides that an action is considered to be right if it yields the greatest happiness for the greatest number. With respect to the ethical dilemma in question, condoning unethical behavior would provide a benefit for the organization, the tutor and the student and therefore Bentham’s approach would be the most appropriate.
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- Ford, R. C., & Richardson, W. D. (2013). Ethical decision making: A review of the empirical literature. In Citation classics from the Journal of Business Ethics. Springer, Dordrecht.
- Hicks, S. (2003). Ayn Rand and contemporary business ethics. Journal of Accounting, Ethics, and Public Policy, 3(1), 1-26.
- Kain, P. (2004). Kant’s Ethical Thought. International Studies in Philosophy, 36 (1), 366-368.
- Mathis, K., & Shannon, D. (2009). Jeremy Bentham’s Utilitarianism. In Efficiency Instead of Justice? Springer, Dordrecht.
- Woiceshyn, J. (2011). A model for ethical decision making in business: Reasoning, intuition, and rational moral principles. Journal of business Ethics, 104(3), 311-323.