Q. Provide a detailed comparative description and analysis of the five approaches to Ethics: Utilitarian, Rights, Fairness, the Common Good, and The Virtue?
Q. Provide a detailed comparative description and analysis of the respective philosopher (their background) and philosophy behind each approach?
The Rights Approach:
The rights approach is based on the idea that “people have the privilege to pick ways which influence their fate since they are human. Besides, people are supported in their desire that their rights ought to be regarded. These rights incorporate the privilege to reality, the privilege of security, the right to not be harmed, and the privilege to the satisfaction of guarantees.”
This approach is critical with regards to ethics and morals. Immanuel Kant is an eminent scholar of the eighteenth century and has laid the necessary foundation of this theoretical approach.
Individuals have their viewpoint in their capacity to pick what they will do unreservedly. According to this method, individuals are not any particular items which could be mechanically controlled however it is termed according to Kant as “an infringement of human poise” in those specific ways that they don’t pick openly. Apart from all this, the variety of related rights also exists other than this fundamental right. This range of duties can be assumed as a part of the great ideal.
This compilation of rights may include rights to reality, privilege and security interests. To choose the moral and ethical nature of any activity, several questions are to be asked in that regard;
• Identifies primary interests which our conducts view, especially the ones that our lives justify as security from other people.
• Every person has a “central ideal” which has to be to be regarded as a free and reasonable person who is equipped to settle on his particular choices.
• It infers various rights like that of security, and it must be ensured in the case if a person has the flexibility for coordinating his special life.
• The standard expresses: “An activity or arrangement is ethically right just if those people influenced by choice are not utilized only as instruments for propelling some objective, yet are completely educated and regarded just as they have uninhibitedly and intentionally agreed to be dealt with.”
The Utilitarian Approach:
Utilitarianism approach was presented in the mid 19th century by renowned scholar, Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, who determined the laws Legislators. Both the scholars, Bentham and Mill, suggested that the moral or ethical activities are the ones that offer the greatest balance of both goods over evil.
“Ethical actions are those that provide the greatest balance of good over evil.”
For practicing the idea of utilitarian approach, the identified problem must have to be analyzed from various diverse perspectives. The proposed solutions to each one of the problem must be “contemplated for arriving at the one that favors the greater good.”
To analyze any issue using this approach, the first step is to identify the different course of actions that are available to us. Secondly, it is important that one inquires about who will be affected by each of measures taken and to determine that what would otherwise benefit the other. The third step is to choose the actions that will be producing the greatest of those benefits and the minimum harm that it may cause.
According to Jeremy, “The ethical action is the one that provides the greatest good for the greatest number.”
• Focuses must be on the final output and consequences that these specific steps and policies will be having on the utility of the people who are to be directly or indirectly affected by those policies or action.
• One must keep this thing in mind that different people usually determine benefits and harms differently.
• The principle states: “Of any two actions, the most ethical one will produce the greatest balance of benefits over harms.”
The Virtue Approach:
The virtue approach explains an assumption, according to which there are “higher orders of goodness” to which person must aim for, and also that only moral or ethical activities will be helping us in achieving the given higher level.
The “virtue approach” to ethics also assumes various ideals which a person must strive for. The chosen models must be provided to the development and prosperity of humankind.
Virtues are the characteristic traits or specific attitudes which enable us “to be and to act in ways that develop our highest potential.” Virtues also enable people to pursue the ideals that they have adopted. The cited examples for attributes include honesty, fidelity, fairness, compassion, integrity, self-control, and prudence.
Moreover, virtues are like habits. If these are acquired once, they will ultimately become a characteristic trait in that person. Also, anyone with the developed attributes of such nature would automatically be disposed to the action in a way which is consistent with ethical principles. According to this approach, any right person is also a decent person because these two traits go hand in hand.
• The focus must be on the attitudes, character traits and dispositions. These will also enable individuals ‘to be and to act in ways that develop our human potential.”
• Various communities identify differing virtues in their particular way of determining such traits.
• The principle states: “What is ethical is what develops moral virtues in us and our communities.”
The Fairness Approach:
The “fairness approach” believes that all the people must be treated on equality basis without any discrimination of their standing in their lives. This method has deep roots in the ideas of a prominent Greek philosopher Aristotle. According to him, “equals should be treated equally and unequal unequally.” The fundamental question based on morality according to the principles of this approach is: “How fair is an action? Does it treat everyone in the same way, or does it show favoritism and discrimination?”
People typically get benefited over other people due to the factor of “favoritism,” which is unjust and unjustified.
• It is imperative to focuses on fair or unfair actions which may benefit or harm other members of the group.
• Consistency in the treatment of people is important in this regard.
• The principle states: “Treat people the same unless there are morally relevant differences between them.”
The Common Good Approach:
The “common right approach” determines moral actions to be the one that will benefit all members of that community. This method “assumes a society comprising individuals whose own product is inextricably linked to the good of the community. Community members are bound by the pursuit of shared values and goals.” The idea of this theory dates back to almost 2,000 years old and is found in the writings of Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero. In the contemporary scenario, John Rawls has defined it as “certain general conditions that are…equally to everyone’s advantage.”
According to this approach, a person focuses on ensuring the social systems, policies, environments, and institutions. Cited examples include a just legal system, affordable health care, unpolluted environment, adequate public safety and peace among nations.
This approach incites an urge in one’s self to view himself as a member of that society or community by reflecting the concerns on a deep level as to what kind of society we want to become and the procedure to guide through it. This approach discuses the environment in which a person is given n urge to pursue its goals by valuing the freedom of individuals.
• “Shared pursuit of values and goals” are presented.
• The societal culture of that community is comprised of people whose own right is inextricably attached to the better of the whole society.
• The principle states: “What is ethical is what advances the common good.”
Q. Define fairness and what are the principal two reasons for Fairness from an ethical standpoint?
The concept of fairness is closely related to the idea of justice which involves “what is right and equal.” Due to the limitations of human experience, its interpretation is assumed as a fundamental problem according to this approach. Fairness, however, could be interpreted as “being equal in the provision, opportunity or result. From each point of view, the other point of view may seem unfair.”
Since everyone gets the same thing as a result of being fair, it can be seen as equality. Due to the differences in human nature, everyone doesn’t appreciate to be deserved the same thing; this makes it a strong limitation of the approach. For example, a child would demand a different kind of stuff in comparison to a grownup person due to the difference of approach and feelings.
For the purpose of correcting any injustice, it feels good to make it right by giving each person the same amount of money, status or such. For some people it might feel fair, for others, extra compensation is required, but this might be perceived unfair to many others who were doing the same work.
Fairness is defined by Velasquez (2002: 106) as: “concerned with the comparative treatment given to the members of a group when the benefits and burdens are distributed, when rules and laws are administered, when members of a group cooperate or compete, and when people are punished for the wrongs they have done or compensated for the wrongs they have suffered.”
There are significant similarities between fairness and justice, and the term justice is used in comparatively dangerous scenarios than fairness. The meaning of fairness is often difficult to explain and might alter, depending on the situation. However, various points in this reference are explained as under:
1. When people are not treated similarly, unless there are some relevant differences between them, Unfairness arises. Since it’s tricky so it cannot be determined.
2. Equality is also an important concept linked to fairness. “Although it is not clear as to whether people should be considered equal, to begin with, or if people need to prove that similarities exist. What we do know is that if someone feels they have been treated unfairly based on a lack of equality, the burden to show that the unequal treatment is fair is placed on the person who is endorsing it.”
3. The third major component is directly laid on the idea that “people get what they deserve for what they have done; their due. In other words, on top of equality, the actions of a person must be factored in when we determine what treatment they deserve and whether in fact, this treatment is fair.”
4. The fourth component, however, focuses on a “person’s moral rights” and the way people are treated unfairly and mainly when their moral rights are violated.
Q. Concerning Fairness, what is the role of Impartiality and Consistency with the community expectations of fairness? Please elaborate.
The basic principles of fairness are central to the retributive, procedural as well as the restorative justice. The principles of these secondary approaches are supposed to ensure the primary procedures which will be generating “unbiased, consistent, and reliable decisions.” The focus of these is on “carrying out set rules in a fair manner so that a just outcome might be reached. Appropriate procedures are central to the legitimacy of decisions reached and individuals’ acceptance of those decisions.”
In carrying out a proper process in either negotiation/ mediation or any legal proceedings, the impartiality of the third party has to be ensured by all means. It concludes that by appropriate and defined information retrieved, an honest and unbiased decision is made. For example, in any case, the role of a judge must be impartial to a maximum level, and that of a facilitator must be in a manner that it doesn’t exhibit any prejudice by giving one party any leverage over the other. The general rules must also be impartial and should not give any particular favor to any person over the other.
An unbiased, universally applied procedure, whether it serves to distribute wealth or deliver decisions, can ensure impartiality as well as consistency. The principle of coherence proposes that “the distinction of some versus others should reflect genuine aspects of personal identity rather than extraneous features of the differentiating mechanism itself.”
The “principle of standing,” however, suggests that everyday people must value their membership and association with the group. Also, that the status of the societal institutions and decision-making procedures must be affirmed as a member of the society. For example, all the stakeholders must have a say in the decision process. Specifically, the unprivileged or mainly disadvantaged members of any group or community must be empowered and should be given an adequate opportunity to be heard with respect. If the people are treated with respect during the decision-making procedures, they feel dignified, and their affirmation gets stronger. A core principle of “restorative justice” is, for instance, that the one who directly gets affected by the offense of others must have representation in the decision-making process with regards to the results and aftermath of that attack.
“Trust” is another significant issue which is closely related to the respect and dignity of a person. One of the measures of fairness is that “whether society members believe that authorities are concerned with their well being and needs. People’s judgments of procedural fairness result from perceptions that they have been treated honestly, openly, and with consideration. If they believe that the authority took their viewpoints into account and tried to treat them fairly, they are more likely to support and engage in the broader social system.”
Q. Please define and elaborate on the following: First Come/First Served; Random Allocation; Allocation based on Contribution. Cite and elaborate on a morally relevant distinction as it pertains to Fairness?
To analyze a system, it is imperative to make a comparison between various alternatives together. Therefore, all the major allocation systems have been briefed including mainly of:
• First come first served (queuing)
• Random allocation (lottery)
• Allocation based on Contribution.
A quick discussion about each of these allocation types are explained as under:
First Come, First Served:
According to this system, the institutes allocate entirely by utilizing time and effort as necessary criteria for selection and allocation. It is an applied principle. As an example, we can see how seats are allotted in a train or bus. Oberholzer-Gee points out: “Car dealerships deliver vehicles in the order in which they were purchased. At airports, passengers are checked in the order in which they arrive. Theme parks use waiting for lines to allocate seats on favorite rides. VeriSign, Inc., the Internet firm, has developed a service which allows parties to be next in line to obtain a currently used domain name once it is deleted from the registry. Call centers queue calls, and the organizers of sport and entertainment events typically sell tickets on a first-come, first-served basis.”
NGOs or even government agencies commonly use waiting lists, which is one form or example of this allocation system, to allocate the scarce resources. Rooms in nursing homes, health services, housing vouchers and hangars at airports are other general standards. Also, the universities use ‘waiting lists’ in the allocation of seats in courses, hostel systems as well as the parking spaces.
Elster (1989b) makes a clear distinguishing factor between the two sorts of queues, the one voluntary standing in line and the other, formed by the natural process of care units after a disaster. It is an allocation system which is pure “a function of time of arrival” and is not in any way dependent on other factors like class, age, and gender, etc. At times when there is a scarcity of individuals, it can be viewed as having two major competing and opposed natures: “individualism based on rational self-interest and egalitarianism based on social justice and fairness.”
As a rule of nature, it is observed that on a hot day people are relatively more thirsty that the ordinary days. In a situation, if the available water is scarce and the audience of public demanding it is more in abundance, the rule of “First come, first served” will be applied. It will at first step, lead to a queue formation, which has the disadvantage of wasteful allocation. “Queuing is similar to paying the price, but nobody collects the price and benefits from it.”
Queuing behavior could be assumed as “an attempt at solving several competing issues: firstly it can be seen as a bid to maximize social welfare (Hassin and Haviv 2006); secondly resolution of the scarcity of resources; or ordered queues can be used in an attempt to maintain some level of social justice or fairness” (Avi-Itzhak and Levy 2004)
The procedure of this allocation system has a long and varied history. In the seventeenth century, Oberholzer-Gee, Bohnet, and Frey (1997) presented few examples at the University of Basle. He placed subjects to teach in a lottery. The results of the lottery showed that Jakob Bernoulli was teaching medicine instead of mathematics.
History explains how this system was used in the Roman Republic where a large number of important decisions were taken by the lottery system, for example, the allocation of provinces amongst the senators. Athens too selected the officials as well as the council members through the lottery. In the contemporary world, this system is still placed in public house allocations, the awarding of oil drilling, tax auditing, and educational institutions or immigration.
The use of random distribution is also linked to the uncertainty and social indifference. Since each hiker has the equal opportunity and chance of selection, thus, lotteries are made blind towards personal characteristics. Oberholzer-Gee, Bohnet, and Frey (1997) outline that “a lottery is only socially acceptable if competence is available. Professors’ subjects could be randomly distributed because ability was given by appointing capable universal scholars to the University of Basle”. Elster (1989b) argues that “I know of no instance of social lotteries without some pre-selection or post-selection scrutiny by need, merit and the like.”
Allocation based on Contribution:
This allocation system is based on “the adjudication of a group of people, chosen in a democratic process.” According to Frey and Pommerehne (1988), “the distribution of water is made by the local authorities according to their respective judgment. This reduces a possible framing effect by the word government, leading to negative feelings. Local authorities follow certain administrative rules.”
No matter such constitutional laws induce governmental agents to act for the citizens, there exists certain “asymmetric information and thus a principal-agent problem.” The government will always have an additional advantage over the citizens due to information. It enables them in anticipation of the future decision. Buchanan (1975) explains that “it is unrealistic to expect that elected officials neither have personal preferences nor exercise their influence over collective outcomes. Thus, it can be doubted whether the distribution is fair or even efficient, where goods are scarce, incentives for rent-seeking activities increase. In some countries, instrumental friendship is an important mechanism in the allocation of scarce goods.”
Q. Elaborate on the relationships and obligations of employers and employees to each other as well as to those within and outside an organization? Elaborate on employee conflict of interests citing an example?
The relationship between an employer and an employee has a lot of dimensions to be considered. Therefore it should not be looked at simply in the economic terms. The relation of mutual dependency between different human beings is a significant trait of relation-ing and casts a great impact on all the people involved. This relationship is laden with ethical and moral responsibilities due to numerous stakeholders. Although the “pressures of self-interest” are quite powerful as well as compelling, both employer and employee must guide the choices of their own by the moral principles which include honesty, respect, and care.
The obligation of employers:
This subject is not merely linked to the idea of “fair pay and safe working conditions,” but of a real and more enduring concern for the well-being of the employees. A morally sound and equipped employer would always be willing to make right decisions even during the welfare of the company. His policies must demonstrate an active policy which addresses a genuine concern no matter even the impact profitability is affected as a result of it. Companies should be loyal to workers as well as the owners themselves.
Hoff Cruz states that “a particularly challenging context that tests an employer’s morality concerns the termination of only employees or large groups. Layoffs, plant closings, and other dramatic events of this nature have dramatic psychological and financial impact on the entire workforce and the reputation of the company. Thus, they should be handled with extraordinary caring and sensitivity regarding how and when the announcement is made and implemented and what provisions are being made to assist employees who are losing their jobs.” The use “down-sizing” or “right-sizing” as a new tool of new euphemisms makes managers feel much better about the decision of terminating the jobs, but it does not change anything from a moral perspective.
As previously mentioned, “employees are entitled to be treated fairly and with respect, and it is the company’s obligation to see that individual managers do not abuse their power or mistreat their subordinates. Kill-the-messenger behavior at any management level is improper, as is any active or passive encouragement of dishonest reporting. Employees should feel free to raise ethical or other issues without fear of retaliation. Employees are entitled to count on the commitments of the employer especially about central matters such as pay, raises, and promotions. Employers who chisel employees, renege on promises, or treat them as if they were simply instrumentalities of the organization’s interests rather than ends in and of themselves fail to meet their moral responsibilities.”
Employees also have moral and ethical obligations. These requirements go beyond giving a full day off or even a full day’s pay. Loyalty goes both ways. On the one hand, employees have moral duties towards the organization they work and with the co-workers as well as the customers. In a situation if an employer decides to let an employee go, it is usually considered that the company must ample a notice to the employee as a moral obligation but the ethics of the employee who walks into the boss’ office and says, “I have an opportunity I can’t turn down, and they need me to start this Friday”? Because of the disparity in power, many employees thus adopt a double standard which provides them leverage which is way more than they afford the employer.
One aspect of this attitude is that it is drawn on the “doubtful assertions of necessity.”However, the other one is the “implicit belief that if an offer is too good to refuse, there is no moral obligation to refuse. It doesn’t take much scrutiny to see that these are self-serving rationalizations. The moral obligations of an employee include loyalty, candor, caring, and respect. The mismatch in economic strength between the employer and the employee does not change that.”
People who have great moral and ethical values take into account their moral obligations to their employers before they interview for another job. In a case, if they know about the departure, they would preferably jeopardize the company, customers as well as the co-workers. They make this thing clear that at the job interview they will not be available to do it until or unless they have provided a reasonable transition system to it. If one is unaware of the hardship departure might cause, the principle of respect would then suggest the parties who are most affected to be given an adequate opportunity for participating in any discussion so that they can suggest the least harmful alternative solution to it. This is because; the employee-employer relationship is operated in both the contexts of business and human relations. It is due to this reason that there is a tendency “to play by different rules dictated by who has the leverage, and principles of expediency — what you can get away with — rather than moral law.”
Each person must be carefully considering all the possible circumstances that surround the offer of either a gift or benefit which includes “the apparent purpose of the donor, how the transaction may reasonably be viewed by impartial observers and the potential impact on the practice of the professions. Individuals must also be constantly aware of ways in which their personal and family relationships, and other close personal associations, may potentially bias their judgments. Preservation of the highest ethical standards is vital to the conduct of independent judgment and professional practice by speech-language pathologists and audiologists, and ultimately to the dignity of the professions. Conflicts of professional interest, and even just perceptions of conflicts of interest erode the public’s trust in both the professional and the professions.” It is due to these reasons that the situations of conflict of interest must be avoided by all means and where they cannot be avoided, they must be managed openly and cooperatively.
Thinking Ethically: A Framework for Moral Decision Making. Velasquez, M., C. Andre, T. Shanks, and M. J. Meyer. Center for Applied Ethics, Santa Clara University.
Morton Deutsch, “Justice and Conflict,” in The Handbook of Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice, ed. Morton Deutsch and Peter Coleman (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, Inc., 2000), 54. More recent edition (2011)
James. W. Vice, “Neutrality, Justice, and Fairness,” (Loyola University Chicago, 1997).
Leventhal, Gerald S. Fairness in social relationships. Morristown, NJ: General Learning Press, 1976.
Coyle‐Shapiro, Jackie, and Ian Kessler. “Consequences of the psychological contract for the employment relationship: A large scale survey.” Journal of management studies 37.7 (2000): 903-930.