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Comment on Discussion 3

The majority of you seem to be sympathetic to Gillespie’s view of the poker analogy. It seems that there really is more at stake in business than there is in a poker game. Businesses that “play the game” seem to miss the fact that their actions have much broader consequences than those of the bottom line. For example, the recent 60 Minutes program notes how many U.S. companies incorporate in other countries in order to pay as little as 5% in U.S. taxes. While the practice is not illegal, it has the consequence of denying the U.S. government much needed tax revenues for things such as the military that keeps these companies safe; interstate highways that allow many companies to transport their goods; police and fire protection that keep companies safe; an education system that subsidizes the true cost of training new workers, and a welfare program that bears the brunt of corporate decisions to outsource and off-shore production. As I mentioned earlier in the course, the fact that something is not illegal in no way entails that it is moral. While we can always point out how things are in fact done, we can also ask the further question as to whether that is the way they _ought_ to be done.

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Comment on Discussion 2

It seems that comments on discussion two on what is a “true professional” seems to be plagued with ambiguity and confusion. I think many people are looking at the distinction between professional and non-professional as one of moral worth. Many of you want to say that anyone who treats people and colleagues with respect; is honest; does his or her job effectively; is “acting professional”. The problem with this view is that it entails that 1) that everyone is or could be a professional, and thus the term becomes meaningless, or 2) that things like honesty, or respect are things that all of us **don’t** owe to everyone. If these qualities are unique to professionals, then they are not things that I owe people in everyday life, but only to people when I act in my official “professional” capacity.

When asking what defines someone as a professional, we are looking for something that distinguishes a certain type of occupation from others. While people in business like to think of themselves as business professionals, philosophers like to ask what special moral duties, obligations, or privileges a business person has. Can someone in business lie? Are they not obligated to tell the truth? What part of everyday morality applies to people in business that doesn’t apply to everyone else? Doctor, lawyers and others do get special privileges and have special responsibilities. These things (along with some others) seem to distinguish occupations from professions in a substantive way.

Comment on Discussion 1

The responses on this discussion were by-and-large very good. There are several issues here and many of you hit on one or more of them. The first question we might ask is to whom does the doctor have a primary responsibility? If it is to the child, does that responsibility include reporting that the father is a donor? It is possible that a non-family member who submitted to a donor test in the past could change his or her mind and ask to be removed from the donor list. In such a case the doctor wouldn’t have an obligation to reveal the name of the former match, but would simply have to inform the child/family that there was no match available. A second question is whether the father became a patient when he agreed to the test. It seems this could go either way. Although he knew the point of taking the test was to identify a donor, it still might be argued that some sort of confidentiality applies. A third possibility is a utilitarian argument. The problem with utilitarian arguments is that they tend to ignore rights claims or other sorts of moral claims. While I would agree telling may lead to better consequences, one might want to consider whether morality requires that we take grave risks with our own life to help another. In other words, how much can I require of an individual? Do each of us have an obligation to do things like donate kidneys? Why does it matter (if it does at all) that it was the man’s daughter that needed the kidney rather than a stranger?

Discussion 9

Ch.9: When or under what circumstances is whistleblowing not morally required?

Discussion 8

Ch.10: Does business have a moral obligation to do any of the following: sacrifice profits to avoid price increases, provide special training programs and jobs for the hard-core unemployed, expend resources to minimize environmental pollution (beyond what is required by law), avoid or dispose of lucrative investments in nations that systematically violate human rights? Defend your answer carefully.

Discussion 7

Ch.8: Using the readings in this chapter develop and defend your own position on the question of whether the actions of corporations are always completely translatable into the actions of identifiable individuals.

Discussion 6

Ch.7: Do employers have a moral right to use surprise urine tests on (all, some of) their employees to check for drug use? Defend your answer.