The challenge of minor ethical matters for the agent in business

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Publication Type dissertation
School or College College of Humanities
Department Philosophy
Author Herrnstein, Thomas
Title The challenge of minor ethical matters for the agent in business
Date 2013-05
Description Business ethics theory tends to focus on major ethical issues in business, and while this understandable, it is incomplete. This paper argues that minor ethical matters in business are also important and should not be ignored. Furthermore, a virtue ethics critique is an instructive approach to showing why minor ethical matters are important in business and how ethics theory gives insights into how to properly handle minor ethical matters in the business domain. Through analysis of case studies, psychological experiments, and philosophy thought experiments, I show in four chapters how a virtue ethics critique gives an illuminating analysis of minor ethical matters in the business domain. The first chapter uses ideas found in the Mencius about how importance and praiseworthiness relate to major and minor ethical matters. The next three chapters look at two virtues and one vice -honesty, hypocrisy, and candidness-and how these character traits play out in the business domain concerning minor ethical matters. The chapter on honesty captures the praiseworthiness of being honest in business relationships in minor ethical matters. The chapter on hypocrisy examines the claim that in minor ethical matters, hypocrisy in business could be a virtue; in reply, I argue that integrity in minor ethical matters is virtuous, but in certain kinds of business situations, proper pretense, which can look like hypocrisy, should be employed. The chapter on candidness (how much private information agents should reveal about themselves) argues that virtuous agents in business are cautious against full disclosure in minor ethical matters, particularly in social networking media. From analyzing honesty, hypocrisy, and candidness in the business domain, I conclude that a virtue ethics critique gives an enlightening analysis for the following reasons: (1) for agents in business, thinking in virtuous terms helps them to see that minor ethical matters should be thought of in ethical terms, (2) thinking in terms of character reveals how we want agents in business to act in minor ethical matters, and (3) dealing with issues from a character standpoint potentially improves the agent's dealing with minor ethical matters in business.
Type Text
Publisher University of Utah
Subject Business Ethics; Candidness; Honesty; Hypocrisy; Mencius; Minor Ethical Matters
Dissertation Institution University of Utah
Dissertation Name Doctor of Philosophy
Language eng
Rights Management Copyright © Thomas Herrnstein 2013
Format Medium application/pdf
Format Extent 1,091,657 bytes
ARK ark:/87278/s6sx6v3x
Setname ir_etd
Date Created 2013-05-29
Date Modified 2021-05-06
ID 196006
Reference URL
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