OPENING SUMMARY REMARKS
· Good practice: avoiding wrongdoing and doing well, acting in a way that is ethically appropriate, consistent with how those who have virtues would act
· Avoiding wrongdoing relates to a group of virtues classified under justice: constraint-type duties, regulatory rules of morality. Fix duties generally: not to use violence against people, not to steal, to lie or to cheat.
· Obviously these are violated and yet we continue to survive as a society .
· Our living in peace, ability to cooperate, all the same, depends on these constraints being taken seriously and being observed sufficiently generally for it to continue to be rational for us to trust one another.
· Other virtues: in order that we can live well. Humanity and also the aspirational virtues. Need these other virtues
(a) as supports to our being able to sustain justice virtues and
(b) as contributory to living well.
Ex: humanity: help us to understand what is just when that is not obvious or provide additional motivation for doing what is just. Humanity enables us to achieve friendship and avoid loneliness.. Can we do this for the other virtues?
· Is business life morally valuable? Can it be brought under the aegis of our efforts to live life well? Or is it extraneous to those efforts? Yes. It can and it is.
· *Is this the role (responsibility) of business? NO! It is the employee's own responsibility to see to this
The discussion will be focussed on two aspects of work
1. HEALTH AND SAFETY
2. HIRING, FIRING, PROMOTING
Q: Does Good Practice (ethically defensible practice, practice consistent with how those who have the virtues would act) rule out offering jobs that threaten someone's health or safety?
A: Not necessarily; virtuous employers follow the restrictions placed on them by law (conform to prevailing standards), secure informed consent from their employees (especially where the risks are not obvious) (demand of honesty), and will look for ways to improve safety (demand of humanity).
1. What are the responsibilities of employers in respect to health and safety?
How do the concerns and requirements relating to virtues bear on what might constitute good practice in this area?
D It is not irrational to expose oneself to avoidable risks, so it is not necessarily
unethical to set up a business that involves hazardous working conditions.
D What is the employer's moral responsibilities?
F (1) Follow the legal regulations, which demand that we ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of employees. This is a demand of justice.
F (2) Obtain informed consent. Honesty requires that we refrain from lying and do not abuse trust. It is not necessarily unreasonable to expose employees to risks, but they must know and consent. [Text contains some discussion about the difficulties and obscurities of informed consent, including that the idea of "being informed" is vague-you can be more or less informed, significantly selective-informed may be more than someone wants to know, less than another wants). Further, freedom admits of degrees-how free is free enough? Honesty means no lies; but not necessarily all information, but depends on context, particular circumstances, and what people can expect to be told. As far as coercion goes, key here is what is the responsibility of the consent seeker for the factors that might force someone's consent. Dangerous work does not mean that everyone applying for the job is desperate-someone might be willing to take risks if the pay is good. Dire circumstances do not mean the consent is not genuine--lack of freedom to do otherwise arising from external circumstances an lack of freedom depending on how ones is pushed to do a job. Consent is real even if circumstances force it in some way, because the circumstances are not of the consent seeker's design!
F (3) Ensure that the dangers do not threaten others. Informed consent is a necessary but not sufficient condition. Honesty requires this too. (Some questions about unborn offspring raised here).
F (4) Continue to work to improve. Humane employers will always look for ways to improve safety. In this regard, they will not disregard costs, seeking to balance the open-ended, non-dischargeable duty of improving safety with the open-ended, non-dischargeable duty of pursuing profits.
SAFETY STANDARDS IN COMPANY BRANCHES ABROAD THE KATHY LEE GIFFORD ISSUE: Is it UNJUST for a firm to take advantage of the absence of safety regulations in employing third-world laborers under conditions that are illegal back home.
It is clearly just to conform to fair laws-so taking advantage of a country where there are laws but they are not effectively enforced, is unjust. This was the case with the Bhopal Disaster.
Taking advantage of the absence of safety regulations is not necessarily exploitative: exploitation involves taking unjust advantage. The conditions of third-world laborers may be undeserved, but if the pay is fair and no one has been tricked into working, the jobs are not exploitative.
Is tolerating the difference in standard unfair? We can justify mere differences in treatment if the employees understand the risks and choose to accept them on the terms you offer. This may be rational for them.
Is it humane? Humane employers will seek to balance pursuit of a profit with ordinary decency and humanity. (We already showed that pursuit of profit is an aspirational-type duty.) They will take an "active interest" in encouraging the introduction of regulations, as part of the imperfect duty of justice. This is to their own benefit, as it will provide a more stable society and a securer environment for their business involvement with the country.
2. What are the responsibilities of employers in respect to hiring, firing, and promotion? How do the concerns and requirements relating to virtues bear on what might constitute good practice in this area?
F The responsibility of employers here is to be fair. Fair treatment is both
morally important and prudentially important--fair treatment is an important
F Couple of questions:
m Does our duty to maximize long-term owner value require that it is only fair to hire or promote the candidate the contributes most, and it is only fair to fire the one who contributes least?
This would be required only if this duty was an "ongoing, nondischargeable, constraint-type duty. But we have argued that this duty is only an "ongoing, nondischargeable, aspirational-type duty." So we should do this "within reason," which would allow other considerations to enter into the decision without their being a breach of contract (with your employer) or an act of injustice.
m Does justice require that the most suitable applicant or candidate always be chosen for a position?
This is not necessarily so. Given two competent, qualified candidates, it does not wrong the better qualified if you do not choose them. If you have not promised applicants to select the best qualified-you have no moral obligation to do so. It isn't a competition. Nor have you necessarily wronged the firm-for the qualified candidate will do a satisfactory job.
You may be justified by humanity to hire a competent but less qualified candidate
who may possess some characteristics that make getting a job harder. [Are we
getting into a justification for Affirmative Action-type hires, here?]