Case 1' We can change this case slightly by invoking the possibility of serious harm to you, your firm, or the Philippine government as a result of a refusal to pay the bribe. Suppose, for example, that additional weeks of delay on the dock expose the computers to damage for which your divi- sion is financially responsible and which will seriously reduce profits. In that case, our first question receives the requisite affirmative answer: refusing to pay the bribe causes serious harm or loss, but this must still be weighed against the harm or stimulus to wrongdoing uncovered by our answers to the remaining four questions. The second question is answered negatively, as it must be if paying the bribe is allowable in this case. You probably do not directly cause more harm to others than your firm is likely to suffer. However, the answers to questions 3,4 and 5 remain the same as in the previous version of the case, and the possibly affirmative answers to 3 and 4, in particular, continue to provide good reasons for not paying the bribe. Although there is no simple formula for adjudicating the conflict here, these considerations suggest that even in the face of significant annoyance and injury, there is substan- tial moral reason for not acquiescing to extortion.'^ Case 1" We can take this case one step further and assume that at some point the harm incurred by resisting involvement in bribery increases signifi- cantly. This might be true, for example, if HAUs ability to do business in the Philippines were threatened by its refusal to pay bribes of this sort. Not only would this represent a substantial increment in the degree of
WHEN IS "EVERYONE'S DOING IT" A JUSTIFICATION? 83 harm experienced by the firm, but the fact that HAL's efforts are not supported by the government suggests that its refusal to engage in brib- ery is not significantly contributing to a reduction in bribery and extor- tion by others. Hence, condition 4 and (we may suppose) condition 3 are met in ways that increase the justifiability of involvement in this com- mon but undesirable behavior. Case 1'" Finally, we might make one further change in the case to develop a far more compelling justification for involvement in bribery. Imagine, now, that instead of your firm's being a large and powerful multinational corporation, it is a small joint partnership whose economic survival depends on retaining a toehold in the Philippine market. Failure to pay the bribe in this case will represent economic disaster and loss for you and all the constituencies you represent. Here we can give a strong affirmative answer to the first question. You avoid serious harm or loss if you refuse to pay the bribe. The second question is answered negatively as it must be for complicity to be allow- able: no one is directly harmed by your bribery more than you and your firm are by avoiding it. The third and fourth questions must also be answered negatively, and there is good reason to think that in this case they are. Given the pervasiveness of bribery and your firm's small size
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- Spring '11
- Business Ethics, Business Ethics Quarterly, Main Points Of Article, Main Ideas Of Article