Business Ethics Book Review of Term Paper

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Thus, the authors do not advocate an ethical free for all, for they acknowledge certain ethical broaches can result in corporate legal costs, thus resulting in executives violating the ethics of their profession -- but this is a more important ethical standard than either laws or social responsibility, stress the authors.

The authors also acknowledge that in the current environment, government regulations must be obeyed by businesses, else they face the costs of litigation. But Macham and Chester also question whether this is a good, namely if too many regulations exist and ultimately hamper corporate profits. In fact, they believe that in the ideal business environment, other than protecting property, the government should not regulate business at all, and rather internal ethical systems should govern the organization, ideally in a Friedman-like utilitarian fashion, taking into consideration the fate of stakeholders only so much as need be, for the organization to evolve and survive. (Macham & Chesher, 11-14) Rather than regulate child labor abroad, and advertising directed towards children at home, consumers can always take their dollars elsewhere, and refuse to patronize such companies. Making a profit, the authors enthuse, always results in good ethics -- however, this seems to take an overly idealistic view of individuals' ability to be correctly informed, to discriminate between advertising and information (and info-tainment) as well as the ability of marginalized low-income workers to chose their place of employment, especially in locations abroad.

Undeniably the main justification for the capitalist system is utilitarian: It demonstrably increases social well being by providing jobs for willing workers and products at competitive prices. And certainly a company's ethics will affect its ability to sell goods, as consumers function as moral as well as economic entities. The authors seem to suggest that internal business self-regulation best, not the government. But what of a female or Black employee who experiences discrimination -- the authors would counsel her to go elsewhere, not seek legal redress, but even if discrimination is irrational and results in good employees fleeing the company, it may be the dominant practice of industry.
In the view of the authors, government regulation should protect private property, and facilitate international commerce by encouraging free trade, not use legal means to protect employee or consumer rights. (Macham & Chesher 19-20) Even insider trading in the views of the author, to maximize corporate profits is acceptable, for so long as everyone engages in a free spread of information; only the slow to seek such information will be harmed, correct? The idea that only currently elite members of the society have access to such information is discounted as well.

The author's view of limited government intervention and corporate self-policing thus rests on an idealized image of a global society where information access to accurate data is perfect, where consumers are pliable and responsive to ethical actions that threaten workers abroad or the global environment, and where employees will not be discriminated against because of the irrationalities of prejudice and their ability to find work elsewhere. An ideal vision but not a realistic view of corporate America. Government regulation above and beyond property protection is necessary to ensure a level field of competition, through discrimination redress in the legal system, and regulation to ensure corporations do not maximize their profits by hurting the environment. Although the internal ethical constraints amongst companies in the interests of upholding shareholder concerns for profit are laudable and necessary, they are alas, only one of the many necessary tools that must be deployed in the governance of corporate ethics.

Works Cited

Boaz, David Editor. Libertarianism: A Primer. New York: Free Press, 1997.

Friedman, Milton. "The Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits." New York Times Magazine. 1 September 1970. Reprinted in Ethical Theory and Business, edited by Tom L. Beauchamp and Norman E. Bowie. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1993.

Macham, Tibor and James E. Chesher. A Primer on….....

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