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Five Sources oof Ethical Standards

The Utility Approach:

  • It deals with analysing the cost and benefits of the decision. The basis of moral activity in the utilitarian approach is based on the result of the act. If the net benefit exceeds the overall cost, then the act is considered morally right.
  • The ethical corporate action, then, is the one that produces the greatest good and does the least harm for all who are affected-customers, employees, shareholders, the community and the environment. 
  • Ethical warfare balances the good achieved in ending terrorism with the harm done to all parties through death, injuries, and destruction. The utilitarian approach deals with consequences; it tries both to increase the good done and to reduce the harm done.

The Rights Approach:

  • Other philosophers and ethicist suggest that ethical action is the one that best protects and respects the moral rights of those affected. It focuses on individual entitlement. If the act guarantees individual rights, then it is considered to be morally correct.
  • It focuses on analysing whether the act violates the rights of the individual or not. The moral and legal basis of such rights are considered before taking any action. The list of moral rights including the right to make one's own choices about what kind of life to lead, to be told the truth, not to be injured, to a degree of privacy and so on-is widely debated, some now argue that non-humans have rights too. Also, it is often said that rights imply duties in particular, the duty to respect other's rights.

The Fairness of Justice Approach:

  • Aristotle and other Greek philosophers have contributed to the idea that all equals should be treated equally. Today we use this idea to say that ethical actions treat all human beings equally or if unequally, then fairly based on some standards that is defensible.
  • We pay people more based on their harder work or the greater amount that they contribute to an organisation and say that is fair.
  • If the act extends/distributes wealth, opportunities, burdens and cost fairly, then such act is considered moral. It also focuses on compensating those who have been unfairly affected. 

The Common Good Approach (Universalism):

  • If the intention of the deed, decision or act considers all individuals with respect, then such act is considered to be morally right. It is associated with duties that each individual has to perform.
  • Universalism implies that all individuals perform their duties in the same way. The Greek philosopher has also contributed the notion that life in community is a good in itself and our actions should contribute to that life.
  • This approach suggests that the interlocking relationships of society are the basis of ethical reasoning and that respect and compassion for all others-especially the vulnerable are requirements of such reasoning.
  • The approach also calls attention to the common conditions that are important to the welfare of everyone. This may be a system of laws, effective police and fire departments, health care, a public educational system or even public recreational areas.

The Virtue Approach:

  • Thus, the approach is based on the character of the decision-maker. Moral authority relies on the characteristics of the individuals such as honesty, integrity and truthfulness. If a decision, strategy, or act reflects such viruses or characters then it is considered morally correct.
  • These viruses are depositions and habits that enable us to act according to the highest potential of our character and on behalf of values like truth and beauty.
  • Honesty, courage, compassion, generosity, tolerance, love fidelity, integrity, fairness, self-control and prudence are all examples of viruses. Virtue ethics asks of any action, "What kind of person will I become if I do this?" or "Is this action consistent with my acting at my best?"


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