Ethics: The Human Imperfection Of Greed

993 words - 4 pages

An ongoing problem in the United States and other countries are issues dealing with ethics. Many philosophers throughout the centuries have created works and theories on ethics, among them Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Ethics may generally be defined as the study of morality (Cohen, p. 17). Aristotle on Nicomachean Ethics said Virtue… being of two kinds, intellectual and moral, intellectual virtue in the main owes both its birth and its growth to teaching (for which reason it requires experience and time), while moral virtue comes about as a result of habit. (Cohen, p. 79) I feel that these ideas serve as the groundwork for Ethics in general but as society has progressed it was and is necessary to adapt different types of Ethics. I am going to focus particularly Rule Ethics in this essay. Two specific Philosophers who contributed to this branch of ethics are John Stuart Mill and Immanuel Kant.
John Stuart Mill’s theories about Utilitarianism can be described as; actions are morally justified or morally unjustified according to the amount of good and evil they can be expected to bring into the world by their performance (Cohen, 2000, p. 22). I agree with John Stuart Mill in his utilitarian approach to ethics in other topics but I do not feel it is the best solution in a business or financial environment. My reasoning for the statement above develops from Mill’s “greatest happiness principle” stating that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure, and the absence of pain; by unhappiness, pain, and the privation of pleasure. (Mill, p.9) Although this interpretation does not necessarily mean that free enterprise and American capitalism are forbidden however it is my opinion that the application of this principal would place severe limits on market competition. My aim is not to change the current system but to adopt theories to improve upon it.
After further research on Rule Ethics I feel Kant’s ideas in the work “Grounding for the metaphysics of morals” provides a better model for the business environment and laws governing business transactions. Kant’s Deontological Ideas about “good will” and the “the categorical Imperative” serve as the basis for my proposal to a solution of some of the problems that affected many Americans in recent years. An example of this is to Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law. (Cohen, p.44) Another, we will take the notion of duty which includes that of a good will (Abbott, p.5). However I can also acknowledge the fact that Kantian Ethics have been criticized in hypothetical situations based on the literal meaning of his words as to what a moral act constitutes. The goodwill is the only thing in the world that is good...

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