This week, let’s cut straight to the chase… does truth have any place in advertising? Do we require advertisers to keep some tangible connection to truth, or is truth merely a concept, something that we understand can be stretched beyond recognition when it comes to marketing a product? Do companies have an ethical obligation to insure truth in their advertising?
Building on last week’s topic, the question of “who’s ethical standards” do we apply when we look at the global community. Is it the ethics of the host nation? Or the ethics of the individual company working in the host nation? Or is the ethics of the individual’s within the company? Or is it the ethics of the individual that is observing the behavior? Because we use ethics to make judgements, both on prior behavior and on possible future actions, deciding on what viewpoint we use is extremely important. So when in Rome…who’s ethics matter?
Much is often made of the right’s of developing countries to use dirty energy, lax labor laws, and dangerous chemicals in an effort to move toward a “developed” country. The illustration is offered that just because the US is now cleaner, fairer and healthier doesn’t mean it should be able to look down from its ivory tower and demand that other countries “get on board.” ”You’ve had your chance to develop,” emerging economies say, “now its our turn.” Is that a realistic stance? Knowing what we know now about, say DDT, is it ok that countries in Africa still use the product? Should we stand by as workers’ rights in China are abused, waiting for China to “develop” into an “enlightened” labor environment? Or what about one step further…is it ok for American companies to profit off of these situations? Should American companies be allowed to sell harmful chemicals, outlawed in the US, to developing countries? What say you citizens of the world?
When we think of our personal, inalienable rights, we are often reminded of our Constitution and the Bill of Rights. As students of ethics, its important to consider those rights that are natural, fundamental, and inseparable from humanity. What rights do you believe are part of the essence of being human, regardless of culture, gender, race, etc?
There are as many opinions in the world as a there are people to have them. However, when it comes to ethics, we want to focus on two paradigms: deontological and teleological. The first, deontological, describes an ethical approach to an issue that starts from a set of rules or values. The individual believes that it is ethical to “always tell the truth,” so when faced with a situation where telling the truth may be difficult, they nevertheless forge ahead and speak truth. The second, teleological, describes an ethical approach to an issue that looks at the possible outcomes and asks, “what action with result in the greatest good for the most people?” So, when a husband is asked by his wife if “these jeans make me look fat,” as opposed to the deontological man, the teleological man answers whatever way will bring the greatest joy to the participants involved.
Although this is a light-hearted example of these two styles, the reality is that both of these approaches have their adherents with very strong feelings about why their paradigm results in ethical outcomes.
What paradigm do you tend to follow? Why? Do you think both paradigms are equally valid?
Ethics seems to be a popular topic in business and politics, but the question I’m asking today is: where do our ethics come from? What are the sources that provide our ethical paradigms, and are some sources “better” than others?
Hopefully none of us have had to experience disciplinary actions in the workplace. However, we’ve all heard about it if we haven’t personally witnessed it. There are a lot of theories about how to handle discipline well, but in reality, it seldom seems to do go very smoothly, let alone be a true “turnaround” moment for the errant employee. So what do you all think…is there a “best” method of discipline? Have you ever witnessed a true turnaround effect?