Business Ethics Complete Study Guide

Business Ethics Complete Study Guide - Business Ethics Week...

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Business Ethics Week 1 Readings The Role of Business in a Free Democracy Free democracies are free in the sense that they protect liberty; democratic in their commitment to the standard of one person Business cannot flourish without freedom. How much freedom should they have? Great wealth in a few people can give them highly disproportionate political power Economic freedom tends to result in great wealth for those with special skills or good fortune Does governmental regulation of business reduce economic opportunity? Average standard of living? Quantity or quality of political participation? Consider 2 major approaches to these questions: one gives priority to freedom, the other to equality Foundations of Capitalism “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are unalienable rights  constitutional thinking of modern democracies For most of humanity, happiness is unattainable without some property  free democracies protect these rights Property rights = moral right = legal right as well; crucial for economic freedom and capitalism Free trade is widespread and legally protected Capitalism contrasts with socialism (allowing little private property) Totalitarian communism: you have 2 cows; the government seizes them and shoots you-unless you agree to maintain and milk them as ordered Socialism: you have 2 cows; the government takes them but gives you some milk Capitalism: you have 2 cows; you sell one and buy a bull Two Conceptions of Democracy Property rights are clearly essential for economic vitality and flourishing democracies Locke took property rights to be essential for a just society. He also has a theory of property acquisition that provides a rationale for individuals’ holding great wealth
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On this Lockean view the role of government is to protect property from theft or invasion and to enforce contracts, not to control the economy or restrict free trades Free market view of the relation between government and business Without, taxes for instance, government, as distinct from private militias, is not feasible French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau and sometimes called the tradition of French liberty The difference is not over one person, one vote, but over equality as something to be pursued Prevention of huge inequalities is an aim of the system Vast amounts of wealth threaten democracy by placing great political power in the hands of a few who can “buy” votes or bring economic pressure on some (such as legislation) to vote their way Concerns what laws a free democracy should have to determine taxation and to protect economic freedom But excessive taxation or regulation hampers business The Moral Rights of Business Owners The rights of business owners are not absolute Suffering economic harm by losing out to competitors is common in any well- functioning capitalist system
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