Homework help-Business Ethics

Homework help-Business Ethics  

Business Ethics                      Position Paper #1                  Due date: October 11

Submit your paper as a Word document (or the like) to the “Position Paper #1” folder in the “Assignments” section of the “Assessments” Menu.  The position paper folders are down below the response paper folders.


Basic Assignment:  Write a 4 page paper (typed, double-spaced) in which you describe and defend your views about whether or not managers of business firms have any ethical obligations beyond making as much money as possible for their company (within the limits of the law).  If not, why not?  If so, why?  And how would you characterize the nature and extent of those obligations?


Some comments:


  1. This is a big question and a controversial one.  I don’t expect you to have a definitive and perfect answer.  I do expect you to try to put your thoughts into a reasonably coherent form, and to show that you have understood and taken account of the ideas we have been studying about this general issue.


  1. You may not have thought about this issue in quite these terms before, but you probably do have opinions about it.  That is, in your experience of business (as employee, customer, supervisor, seller, etc.)  you have almost certainly developed some ideas about how you think people ought to act, what sorts of conduct are fair or unfair, appropriate or inappropriate, etc.  Try to put those opinions together with the more theoretical ideas about business ethics that we have encountered so far in this course.


  1. One relatively simple way to approach this topic is to see your task as choosing between the different answers we have encountered in our reading (and then defending your choice):
  2. Milton Friedman’s ‘free market purist’ view, which says that the only responsibility of businesses is to make profits for stockholders (within the limits set by a rather minimal set of rules against force and fraud);
  3. R. Edward Freeman’s ‘stakeholder’ view, which says that managers must balance the interests of all the stakeholders who are affected by business activity.
  4. Joseph Heath’s ‘market failures’ view, which says that managers have a ‘fiduciary duty’ to run the business for the benefit of the stockholders, but should also see themselves as having fairly extensive duties to ‘play fair’ with other people affected by their decisions (and not to take advantage of the opportunities created by market failures).


A more ambitious approach would be to articulate and defend some new way of thinking about this issue.


  1. Remember that your job is not to focus on what the law requires or on what might be useful or expedient, but to explain what you think is right.  The question is not  “What image should a company project in order maintain the good will of the public?”  Nor is it “What rules should we follow in order to avoid costly lawsuits?”  The question is “Do we have any responsibilities that we ought to fulfill (to employees, to customers, to the public, etc.), even if it costs us something to do so?”  (A possible answer to this question is “No.  We are entitled to do anything that the law and the market will let us get away with.”!  This is the ‘free market purist’s answer, and it has a distinguished lineage.)


  1. You may find it helpful to focus your remarks around a particular case (real or imaginary) where there is a question about whether or not it is appropriate for managers to consider the interests of some group of people, even though there is money to be made by disregarding those interests.  But don’t allow yourself to lose sight of the general topic.  If you discuss a specific case or issue, use that discussion to illustrate a general point about the ethical responsibilities of business managers.
  2. When you are thinking about how to allocate your time, keep in mind that each of these position papers counts for 20% of your final grade, as much as all the response papers put together.  If you need to choose between putting more time into the position paper or more time into the weekly response papers that are due between now and the due date for the position paper, it would be wise to put your efforts into the position paper.


Homework help-Business Ethics  

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