Academic Master


Ethics as Rational Choice Essay


Ethics can be considered as a rational choice. There must be a consistent rationale behind every decision to make it ethical. Rationality cannot be considered as enough standard for ethical choice, but it is essential. It is helpful also as it provides a conceptual framework that can be used for the analysis of complex business decisions. It can offer an idea lead for decision making in business circumstances and daily life (Pimentel, Kuntz & Elenkov, (2010). This is due to the reason that it will take into consideration all point of views. Overlooking the interests of others is illogical as this eventually it at the end damages the interests of an organization going into the unethical situation.

Ethical dilemma

Our company is also going to face an ethical dilemma as it is considering selling the customer data that it had got through its Web site. It is now considering selling the data to a 3rd party as a method to augment revenue. But morally and ethically it cannot do this as it has a written commitment concerning its privacy on its Web site. In his privacy statement over the website, the company claims that it will not sell customers personal information to anyone. This will not be sold for any purpose and any period(Stevens, 2008).

Hooker ethical framework

To judge this action, whether it is ethical or not, there can be the use of different ethical frameworks. One such framework is provided by Hooker (Hooker, 2008). He has suggested three tests to judge ethical choices. These tests serve as a base for rational choices.

Generalization Test

The first test that can be used to judge the situation and make an ethical decision is Generalization Test. To go through the generalization test, it is required that the grounds for the act must be constant with usually established standards of conduct. This test is not paying attention towards the results of the act under question. It is required that action must consequence in maximum utility that can be by having any other action. This test can be applied to judge the action of the company of selling customers data to the third party.

Utilitarian Test

Company decision according to this test is irrational and unethical as it is against the assumption that other companies who also have the data will sell it. They will not sell it, and thus company decision is unethical. Company decision according to this test is also irrational and unethical as it is not maximizing utility in the long run for all.

Virtues test

The third test is the virtues test; according to which there is a need to have honest behavior that must be grounded on good character traits, and uphold one’s honesty and associations. These three tests have provided an insight into ethical nature of the situation.

Use of other reference points

Apart from using framework suggested by Hooke for the analysis of the situation many other frameworks can be used. There can be the use of general consequences of the situation.  It is also good to think about the situation rationally and logically. The analysis of the situation on these grounds suggests that it is not good to share the customer data to earn revenue or any other profit for the company. Customers should hold a valuable place in company strategies, and any harm to them must be taken as harm to the company.

Legal selling of personal data:

The company will be an ethical violation of the policy if the personal data was aggregated and sold legally as in the privacy statement company has claimed that it will not share any data for any purpose. Further, mining of data is also not allowed as it will also go against the privacy concern. Even if it is legally sold, as at the end, there can be any harm to any customer at any time.

Allowed use of data:

If there is no actual selling of data by the company, but it is sharing data, then it is also not an ethical choice or strategy to be pursued. Companies share data known as data mining and get some useful information from the raw data of customers. This is allowed but to the extent that does not bring harm to any person.

Data sharing with single login:

If it is not mentioned regarding the privacy policy and there is a single login, then data can be shared with corporate headquarters. But still, it is not possible to sell the information ethically. The company was liable under law to mention regarding the privacy. But it did not mention, and cannot sell the information legally. Firstly, it is required to mention regarding the policy, and secondly, data must persevere concerning safety a much as possible. This will ensure the company loyalty towards its customers.

Sharing of visitor data:

Data can be shared for the business purpose and with the informed consent. The best approach in this regard can be to have the informed consent of the customers regarding the sharing of the data. If they have informed consent, then it is possible to share the data legally. Companies also go for data mining and generate some useful information from the customer’s raw data, with informed consent.  It must also be ensured that all the sharing is done under the specified conditions and that also includes the safety of customers as a top priority.


Hooker, J. (2008). Ethics as rational choice.

Pimentel, J. R. C., Kuntz, J. R., & Elenkov, D. S. (2010). Ethical decision-making: An

integrative model for business practice. European Business Review22(4), 359-376.

Stevens, B. (2008). Corporate ethical codes: Effective instruments for influencing

behavior. Journal of Business Ethics78(4), 601-609.



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