business ethics writing

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or your final paper I want you to analyze the way that


mazon has treated its works and their unionization efforts. I want you to provide all the latest details on how Amazon is handling and reacting to unionization, and whether they are ethical in their treatment. You will need to show up to date information, and I especially want you to address the issue of whether it is ethical for Amazon to use robots as a replacement for unionized employees. See the below article on this latter point:

The final paper is an exercise to test (1) your general knowledge of the three different ethical theories, (2) your critical thinking in evaluating their strengths and weaknesses, and (3) your ability to demonstrate all of the above in critically applying one of the theories to analyzing a well-researched case study.

The final paper must be at least 6 pages, but not to exceed 8 pages. Part of the exercise is to test your ability to grasp complex concepts and issues in a precise way and to articulate them in a concise way. The following is a suggestion for its structure:

1. For the first part of the main body make a reasoned argument for why you have chosen one of the ethical theories as opposed to the others.


e sure to show a good grasp of the ethical paradigm’s normative content: i.e. those foundational presuppositions about what it means to be human and how these presuppositions determine the means and the ultimate aims of ethical action. You will need to provide substantive reasons rather than mere assertions of feelings as to why you believe your chosen ethical theory best represents what it means to be human.


ite the primary sources and texts that were assigned. Any extra sources cited from outside the assigned readings are always welcomed.

2. For the second half of the main body, you will demonstrate the strength of the theory by critically applying it to a case study of your choosing. The business case you choose must be a new case not previously discussed in class (whether in group discussions or group presentations). It must be well-researched, citing multiple sources in order to present all the relevant facts and data needed to understand the core issues involved. Your analysis must be your own application of the ethical framework you chose, leading to an explanation of the problem with a reasoned moral judgment, rather than a mere assertion of rightness or wrongness without explanation (or an appeal to mere relativism). Think of this concrete analysis of a case as offering proof as to why you think the ethical framework is superior in its
explanatory power. Show how the framework insightfully analyzes the case from its unique angle as well as offers creative proposals for a way forward.

General Grading Rubric:

Letter Grades




evelopment and Support




has cogent analysis, shows command of interpretive and conceptual tasks required by assignment and course materials: ideas original, often insightful, going beyond ideas discussed in lecture and class

essay controlled by clear, precise, well-defined thesis: is sophisticated in both statement and insight

well-chosen examples; persuasive reasoning used to develop and support thesis consistently: uses quotations and citations effectively; causal connections between ideas are evident

appropriate, clear and smooth transitions; arrangement of paragraphs seems particularly apt

uses sophisticated sentences effectively; usually chooses words aptly; observes conventions of written English and manuscript format; makes few minor or technical errors


shows a good understanding of the texts, ideas and methods of the assignment; goes beyond the obvious; may have one minor factual or conceptual inconsistency

clear, specific, argumentative thesis central to the essay; may have left minor terms undefined

pursues thesis consistently: develops a main argument with clear major points and appropriate textual evidence and supporting detail; makes an effort to organize paragraphs topically

distinct units of thought in paragraphs controlled by specific and detailed topic sentences; clear transitions between developed, cohering, and logically arranged paragraphs that are internally cohesive

some mechanical difficulties or stylistic problems; may make occasional problematic word choices or awkward syntax errors; a few spelling or punctuation errors or cliché; usually presents quotations effectively


shows an understanding of the basic ideas and information involved in the assignment; may have some factual, interpretive, or conceptual errors

general thesis or controlling idea; may not define several central terms

only partially develops the argument; shallow analysis; some ideas and generalizations undeveloped or unsupported; makes limited use of textual evidence; fails to integrate quotations appropriately

some awkward transitions; some brief, weakly unified or undeveloped paragraphs; arrangement may not appear entirely natural; contains extraneous information

more frequent wordiness; several unclear or awkward sentences; imprecise use of words or over-reliance on passive voice; one or two major grammatical errors (subject-verb agreement, comma splice, etc.); effort to present quotations accurately


shows inadequate command of course materials or has significant factual and conceptual errors; does not respond directly to the demands of the assignment; confuses some significant ideas

thesis vague or not central to argument; central terms not defined

frequently only narrates; digresses from one topic to another without developing ideas or terms; makes insufficient or awkward use of textual evidence

simplistic, tends to narrate or merely summarize; wanders from one topic to another; illogical arrangement of ideas

some major grammatical or proofreading errors (subject-verb agreement; sentence fragments); language marred by clichés, colloquialisms, repeated inexact word choices; inappropriate quotations or citations format


writer has not understood lectures, readings, discussion, or assignment

no discernible thesis

little or no development; may list facts or misinformation; uses no quotations or fails to cite sources or plagiarizes

no transitions; incoherent paragraphs; suggests poor planning or no serious revision

numerous grammatical errors and stylistic problems seriously distract from the argument

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9/15/22, 12:21 PM Launchpad: Introduction to Utilitarianism : UCOR 2910 02 22SQ Ethical Reasoning in Business 2/5

As we enter into our modern capitalist world and its mechanistic view of nature, we will
see that utilitarianism emerges as its natural ethical framework because it also
functions in an entirely mechanical and calculating way.

Of course virtue ethics and utilitarianism both use the words “good” and “happiness” in
a central way to their ethical reasoning. Some philosophers have even lumped these
two theories under the category of “consequentialism” because they consider actions
according to their consequences for obtaining happiness. But there are very important
differences between these two frameworks — and they come about from the important
historical changes to society and the economy that we’ve already explored. The key
will be to understand their differing senses of the normative form of human nature. My
lecture notes comparing and contrasting virtue ethics and utilitarianism
provides some ways to think about their main differences. But before you begin
comparing and contrasting the two frameworks, I want you to dive into the works of
Bentham and then Mill. There is a nice simplicity to their ethical reasoning that many
have been drawn toward. We will want to first spell out the simple thread, but then ask
bigger questions about it, especially whether it is too reductive and not comprehensive
enough for understanding our qualitatively complex human nature.

Jeremy Bentham provided the first detailed philosophical account of utilitarianism.
Writing during the rise of the English industrial revolution, he wanted to accommodate
the commercialization of society with a simple method of ethical calculation no different
from determining market values. He measures and calculates pains and pleasures just
as an accountant takes up cost-benefit analysis. We want to understand not only his
method, but his presuppositions about human nature that led him to develop his ethical
reasoning. Some key questions to ask while reading Bentham:

How does he understand human beings and the nature of society (what does he
call community)?

Is the human anything more than an individualistic pleasure-seeking machine?
is society a whole greater than the sum of its parts?

9/15/22, 12:21 PM Launchpad: Introduction to Utilitarianism : UCOR 2910 02 22SQ Ethical Reasoning in Business 3/5

Or is it nothing more than an aggregate of private individuals competing against
each other?
What’s the difference in such understandings of society, and why would it matter
for how we understand ethics? (remember the historical origins of ethics as both
an individual and collective endeavor to determine the common good together)

More Key Questions to Ask
If happiness is equated solely with physical pleasure and the avoidance of pain, can
this account for the rich complexities of our human desires, especially insofar as
they are educated and refined into higher forms? Don’t we desire more than just
physical pleasures?
Is it really true that the only evidence for something being desirable is whether
people actually desire it? There are many things that people desire that might not
be truly good and desirable, just as there are many things good for us that a
majority might not happen to actually desire.

Are there certain objects that should attract our desire for their own sake, or is
desire nothing other than the subjective feelings and preferences we project onto

Does the logic here assume that humanity is anything more than an aggregate of
individualistically consuming animals?

John Stuart Mill learned from Bentham as his student, and while he accepted the main
thrust of Bentham’s utilitarianism, he also saw some of its shortcomings and tried to
provide more nuanced answers to the questions above. The lecture notes for
Bentham (
wrap=1) (
download_frd=1) and the lecture notes for Mill
break down the argument of both and should help you better understand what is at
stake in their arguments. But let me provide some brief key ideas to think about with
John Stuart Mill’s views.

Key Points for Mill

9/15/22, 12:21 PM Launchpad: Introduction to Utilitarianism : UCOR 2910 02 22SQ Ethical Reasoning in Business 4/5

You will see in Mill’s work and in my lecture notes on Mill, that he is not entirely
satisfied with the simplistic utilitarian logic and its presupposed view of human nature.
Try to follow the ways he begins to press against it as he argues that there are some
qualities distinctive to human nature that are higher than others and therefore require a
higher level of satisfaction. And especially ask whether he can make such an argument
within the original logic of utilitarianism provided by Bentham without transforming it in
the direction of virtue ethics.

One key point that we need to reflect on in Mill is his critical application of his ethics to
an economic analysis. The more Mill provides a nuanced challenge within utilitarianism
the more he is forced to critique business as usual within the capitalist economy of his
day. This seems to be especially the case when he articulates a normative sense of
human nature more in line with virtue ethics. As we saw last week with Merchant’s
reading, the modern mechanized view of nature sees humans as essentially egotistical
pleasure machines because it is based in a mode of privately owned production
organized solely for exchange value and thus private profit. But Mill begins to question
this view of humanity, as noted above, claiming we have higher social qualities much
like Aristotle. I want you all to reflect on what this means for Mill’s analysis of political
economy. Like virtue ethics he is concerned that our economic relations of
production are producing only worker bees or herd animals rather than realizing
our truly human capacities. Try to follow especially his critical view of the capitalist
relations of production, what he means by a cooperative restructuring, and why he
sees a transformation toward a cooperative structure as necessary for fulfilling

1. What is dehumanizing about capitalist relations of production?
2. What does he mean by cooperative relations of production? Notice that Mill does

not necessarily endorse certain state-socialist notions of government ownership of
production. So under his cooperative principles and structures, who would own
society’s means of production?

3. And why is this change in ownership a necessary transformation for humanity to
ethically flourish?

4. What is his presupposed view of human nature that seems to be driving this critical

9/15/22, 12:21 PM Launchpad: Introduction to Utilitarianism : UCOR 2910 02 22SQ Ethical Reasoning in Business 5/5

The big question to ask moving forward, which Aristotle already presented, but
Mill brings back to the fore against Bentham:

If we believe human nature holds higher rational potentials and social
qualities beyond the utilitarian view, then how can we continue to justify the
private ownership of society’s means of production and its use for private
profit, rather than production as more adequately democratized and for the
purpose of meeting our real social needs?

Summary of Utilitarianism, Deontology, and Virtue Ethics


a. Some aspects:

i. It is empirical, basing itself on observing whatever humans happen to enjoy and dislike in the present moment.

ii. It presupposes that humans are driven by nothing more than sensory pleasure and pain.

iii. It is primarily focused on the ends of pleasure without regard to the means.

iv. Justice is therefore about maximizing utility for pleasure amongst the greatest amount of people, while minimizing pain.

b. Some pros:

i. It at least considers that we are embodied beings, and our felt pleasures and pains are an important part of morally determining a meaningful and happy life.

ii. It
appears simple and nonjudgmental in accepting all preferences as equal.

c. Some cons:

i. it makes justice and rights a matter of calculation rather than principle, so that majority rule can easily step over individuals and minorities.

ii. Its supposed nonjudgmental character actually covers up a more severe prejudice that reduces all pleasures to a single uniform measure of value, which Bentham refers to as money.

iii. This tends to sweep morality under the rug since it no longer reasons about meaningful qualitative distinctions amongst our preferences and how we should value some over others according to a
norm beyond fleeting commercial interests.


a. Some aspects:

i. It is rational, based in the coherent, consistent, universal nature of reason, rather than based on empirical fluctuations between different societies and times.

ii. It presupposes that humans are inherently rational according to a free will able to determine its own ends above the tug of war between sensory pleasures and pains. The will is only free when it acts according to the autonomy of its own reason rather than according to externally determined instincts, sensations or commercial interests.

iii. Its primary focus is on the rightness of the motive
behind the act, and not on the results or consequences of the act—as a formal concern about whether the will acted freely in obeying reason alone, it is not only unconcerned with consequences but also unconcerned with whether the person is becoming virtuous through that act.

iv. Justice is about respecting the free will, and thus about making sure majority might doesn’t encroach on the individual right to make one’s own rational choice.

b. Some pros:

i. It holds to a normative conception of the human in its rational capacities beyond fleeting sensations of pleasure and pain

ii. On this basis, and thus against utilitarians, it grounds justice and rights on a principle of human dignity rather than calculation – individual rights are worthy of respect regardless of what the majority finds desirable.

iii. Respect of rights also does not require challenging all the preferences and desires that people do indeed have, since the point of justice is to respect the freedom of choice itself (though in its rational form).

c. Some cons:

i. The normative conception of the human tends to focus too much on the highly abstract form of pure practical reason at the expense of our inherently embodied social nature, thus failing to properly consider the moral weight of our loves, desires, and pursuit of happiness.

ii. Securing rights in terms of freedom of will and choice alone does not really settle most issues, since almost all issues, small or big, require reasoning about ends, purposes, and meanings: about what is socially, economically, and politically

for a properly human life to concretely and holistically become (rather than abstractly recognized only in theory).

iii. Similarly, its abstract focus exclusively on respecting others as ends, fails to account for the required social and civic virtues, along with their required practices and institutions, that could promote and cultivate such respect in the first place.

iv. In other words, it doesn’t adequately address what we should choose in terms of how to become truly dignified beings in both theory
and practice.

Virtue Ethics:

a. Some aspects:

i. It is rational and empirical, basing its reasoning both on empirically observed qualities and capacities, while reasoning about which ones are potentially distinctive and definitive for a more excellent form of human existence regardless of whether they have yet to be empirically realized.

ii. It presupposes that humans are inherently social and rational. Like Kant, Aristotle held that reason is not a mere instrument but the form of human freedom itself. But unlike Kant, humans are most free when they are able to fully develop their distinctive
social and rational capacities, socially in the most holistic sense.

iii. Its focus is on the end goal or common good of happiness, not as pleasure but holistically as well-rounded human flourishing, achievable through the virtues as the right means/practices of building the required character traits/habits.

iv. Justice is about distributing and allocating goods so as to reward and promote social virtues that lead to human excellence.

b. Some pros:

i. More practical and comprehensive in empirically and rationally considering what it means to be an embodied social being.

ii. Has a normative sense of human nature and the common good, beyond commercial interests, to help discern those preferences that are truer to a fully human form of social existence.

iii. Considers reason not in the purely abstract form of a free will alone, but rather in how we substantively reason about common goods and practice social virtues that aim toward, not just the end of
respecting individual freedom, but the end of actually
making everyone free through social, economic and political organization for the sake of community.

iv. In other words, even if we can’t accept the content of Aristotle’s world, his virtue ethics shows us comprehensively what we should be rationally discussing and arguing about in ethics—mainly, that the freedom of choice, the act of choosing itself, is meaningless unless there is something of a good life of human excellence that we can commonly pursue.

c. Some cons:

i. It is demanding and hard to develop within our fragmented and compartmentalized capitalist society, which does not practice, encourage, or promote certain fundamental social virtues or allow much free time to do so.

ii. It can easily become fixated on narrow conceptions of human nature or the common good and forget that these norms, and how they are to be pursued, are also continually expanding (if the human really is a progressive being) and so must be continually reasoned about and discussed with others.

iii. Similarly, while it is not interested in the elitism of moneyed wealth and power, it can devolve into an exclusionary elitism of moral excellence, forgetting that it is a collective project of building community for the sake of universal flourishing, raising everyone up into human excellence.

Comparison and Contrast chart:

Ethical Paradigm


Dimensions to human being

Main Purpose for ethical action

Primary Means for fulfilling ethical action

Ultimate Social Goal



We are only consuming animals without universal standpoint

One-dimensional: pleasure machines with no higher qualities

Maximize and regulate pleasure seeking within given brute nature

Ends justify
whatever means

Functional Stability for status quo of commercial society



We are consuming animals, but with a universally shared rational structure

Dualistically two-dimensional:

Pleasure machines + rational will

restrain and
transcend given brute nature when its interests conflict

Focuses on neither ends nor means, but on
purifying intentions for obeying duty for duty’s sake

Cosmopolitan respect of individual rights



We are inherently
social animals with universally shared rational and social potentials for politics

Organically multidimensional: sensible pleasures, social qualities, rational capacities

transform our brute nature according to its more excellent potentials for holistic development

Virtue as fitting appropriate means to ends: the practice of building up highest powers through habits

A political community of friendship and mutual flourishing

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