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Ethics term paper


"We shall start with a sketch of Schopenhauer's ethics of compassion. According to Schopenhauer, man is for the most part motivated by pure egoism, an egoism tempered sometimes by sheer malice. This egoism and periodic malice spring from the false sense of separateness pertain to each phenomenal manifestation of the one cosmic Will, this being the single thing in itself behind the phenomenal world. As egoists we have, however, sensed the need for some co-operation with our fellow men if our lives are not be "nasty, brutish and short." (Schopenhauer often quotes Hobbes in this connection though I have not found him using this actual phrase.) This motivated human beings to develop the state, and the forces of law and order, as well as a more informal social contract that dictates certain principles of honor in our social relations. The state, the law, and the code of honor are backed by sanctions which temper the damage we would each otherwise suffer from the egoism and malice of others, as also does our individual self-interested awareness of our need to co-operate with our fellows for our own good. All this, however, has nothing whatever to do with morality properly speaking. For nothing done from such essentially egoistic motives calls forth that special sort of admiration, which we feel for what we call moral goodness. This is only evoked when we suppose that someone has risen above the level of normal human egoism and has been inspired by a selfless wish to relieve the suffering of others. Only actions inspired thus by genuine compassion possess any real moral worth."

"One investment house, in the aftershock of Procter & Gamble's lawsuit against Banker's Trust for less than full disclosure regarding risks in P&G's derivatives portfolio, sent all the marketers in its trading pit a written Code of Ethics People were told to read it and sign it. Everyone followed the instructions, or at least the second one. But the code became an instant joke. There was no training. No programs were launched to deal with gray areas. And there were no signals from management except those reinforcing business as usual. The employees saw the code for what it was - some legal ass-covering at a time of greater client scrutiny. Whatever the intent, reactions suggest that individuals, rather than being more ethical in their practices, were just that much more cynical that the ethical commitment of the company was for real. An ethical orientation deserves to be woven into strategy precisely because of the unpredictability of the business world. Since strategy cannot adequately prepare people for all eventualities, ethics can at least provide a belief structure to guide the creation of solutions and the realization of new opportunities. Gael M. McDonald, an associate professor of management at the Asia International Open University in Hong Kong, provides a different angle on the often used Tylenol recall to make this point. Johnson & Johnson is justly celebrated for pulling Tylenol off store shelves after several people in Chicago died when pills were tampered with. Students of the crisis point to J&J's fifty-year-old Credo as the moral inspiration for the decision. But, as McDonald writes, the reality was both more subtle and more powerful than that. "James Burke, chairman and CEO of Tylenol (J&J) at the time, has an interesting view of what happened. Burke is on record as saying that the $100-million recall decision never happened, because in reality there was never just one decision. According to Burke, dozens of people had to make literally hundreds of decisions, and then had to make them work. But by making the hundreds of decisions that led to the recall, Johnson and Johnson regained their market." Strategy could not have foreseen such a tragic eventuality, but the moral sense pervading the company allowed people to participate by their decisions in creating ad hoc the most compelling strategy of all."

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