Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a subdivision of philosophy, dealing with questions about morality. Societies, religions, professional groups all around the globe have their own principles or standards of conduct, which are followed by their members (Davis, Fowler, & Aroskar, 1997). Ethics is concerned with what is right, and what is wrong, good or bad, fair or unfair, responsible or irresponsible, it relates to what we ought to do in terms of rights, obligations, and benefits to society, fairness, or specific virtues.
It is not just about what the case is or what is most acceptable or convenient (Preston, 1996). In the case study The Typo, writer is placed in a head of marketing position in a small, struggling, pharmaceutical company, which is introducing very promising drug to the market. The future existence of the company depends on successful placement of that drug. However, there is a typographical error in all print material about site effects of that drug.
Marketing manager has an ethical dilemma, stop the marketing campaign and correct the “typo”, consequently future existence of his company will be in jeopardy, or to take a risk and go ahead with campaign without letting anyone know about the “typo”. This essay will describe ethical dilemmas and their characteristics, continuing by ethical dilemma marketing manager are confronted with.
Discussion on defensible moral judgements after that will be followed by introduction of two consequentialist theories namely egoism and utilitarianism and Kant’s ethics as one of non-consequentialist theory, which should assist marketing manager in making a justifiable moral judgement. Ethical dilemmas are placing individuals in complex situations were no obvious solution is clear (Shaw, Barry & Sansbury, 2007). When we are confronted with two or more moral principles, and we are equally dedicated to all of them then we are dealing with moral dilemma. MacNiven (1993, p. ) identify, ’If both alternatives did not have an equally strong claim for someone, he or she would not see the situation as a moral dilemma. ’ Person, who has to solve ethical dilemma, can be left displeased, as there may have been another alternative that was evenly as satisfactory as one taken. Respond on ethical dilemmas by people depend on the ethical systems which controlled their thinking. Everyone approaches moral dilemmas from different point of view, making society’s compromise impossible. MacNiven (1993) concluded that the presence of moral dilemmas in our lives is confirming that the moral systems hich are controlling our judgments and behaviour have stopped working and are no longer in a leading position. With respect to Ghillyer (2010) who has introduced four characteristics of an ethical dilemma; these which are having an equally right choice but haven’t been taken, followed by characteristics where rest of the people involved may suffer as a result of the choices haven’t been made, the choice you have made is challenging your personal ethical principles and lastly, the choice you have made has disregard an ethical value of your community or society.
Marketing manager is confronted with ethical dilemma of should he stop the marketing campaign for very promising drug for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and correct typographical error in the print material which is misleading doctors and their patients or ignore typographical error by not stopping the marketing campaign and not informing family doctors about ten times higher risk on bad side effects of promoted drug. On one hand, by not informing family doctors about real risk for patients, he is placing patients’ trust to their family doctors at risk.
On the other hand, by informing doctors about typographical error, he is putting his employer and his own employment in danger situation. Delay in placement of new drug on the market and more costs involved for marketing promotion can be crucial for coming existence of the business. To be exact, two sides of ethical dilemmas exist, objective and subjective. The objective side of the dilemma is what it seems to be a dilemma for one person does not appear to be a dilemma to other person.
Oppositely subjective site of an ethical dilemma is when an emotional component has affected an individual’s response the way a dilemma was seen and settled (MacNiven, 1993). As a guide by solving ethical dilemmas moral judgements are used. Shaw at al. (2009, p. 28) highlights, a moral judgement to be strong, ‘it must be supportable by a defensible moral standard, together with relevant facts. ’ People are using moral standards as a guide on what is right and what is wrong. To make morally strong, justifiable, right decision marketing manager of pharmaceutical company should consider three factors.
Firstly, moral judgement needs to be logical, therefore marketing manager should not follow his personal preferences and feelings, instead he should look for motives and proofs to support the judgements. Logical judgements need to match with our other moral and non-moral beliefs (Shaw et al, 2009). For that reason marketing manager should not simply follow his personal preferences by keeping his job. He should consider option about informing doctors of typographical error, by doing so matching his moral and non-moral beliefs.
To be in a good position to make an informed judgment, marketing manager should collect as much as possible evidence; for instance, what could happen if patients with acute or chronically gastrointestinal or diarrhoea problems will be taking these drugs, will medication intake for them be fatal? Important fact as well is, doctors are already informed about bad side effects of that drug therefore if side effects will occur they will know what has caused these symptoms. Treatment for gastroenteritis and diarrhoea is available; however there is no treatment available for Alzheimer’s disease.
How high is the possibility for doctors to realise that the percentage of patients, who are taking new drug, with bad side effects is far above two per cent? If the company will not survive another month or so by discontinuing marketing campaign, what loss will be for the society not to place very promising drug on the market? And finally, moral judgements should be based on manager’s acceptable moral principles. These principles need to be ‘unambiguous and can withstand critical scrutiny and rational criticism (Shaw et al, 2009, p. 29). Ethical theories can be divided in to two groups; consequential, where ethical decisions are based primarily on evaluating outcomes, and non-consequential, where decisions are based on clear basic view of the right or one’s duty (Preston, 1996). As Shaw et al. (2009, p. 58) describes, ‘If the consequences are good, then the act is right; if the consequences are bad the act is wrong. ’ The outcome of moral judgement will depend on amount of good against the amount of bad an action is going to create. In contrast, non-consequentialist theories are solely concerned with an action, regardless of after-effects.
For instance, take a provoked community debate about abortion. Non-consequentialist will defend foetus as a human being in all circumstances and regardless of consequences, where consequentialist will advocate ethical justification for abortion on case-by-case basis (Preston, 1996). ‘The view that the best theory of general action, or life, is to do what is best for oneself, regardless of effects on others, except when those are indirectly necessary for the best result for oneself (Narveson, 1998, p. 16). ’ Subsequently Shaw at al. 2009, p. 60) calculate, ‘If an action produces or will probably produce for the agent a greater ration of good to evil in the long run than any other alternative, than that action is the right one to perform, and the agent should take that course to be moral. ’ Egoism comes in two species; psychological and ethical. Psychological theory is about what we should do. It says that we should, or ought to, act only in our own interest (Narveson, 1998). Shaw at al. (2009) added, people are so created that their duty is to act selfishly.
Marketing manager should decide what his long term goal is; career with current employer or will he easy accept option to find another job, if needed. Contrary, if I am an individual ethical egoist it could happen that on a long run by achieving self-interest, others believes, reactions and attitudes may well have a direct impact upon my own interest (Shaw at al, 2009). In other words, it means, someone to whom a person with moral dilemma has close relationship, can have influence on decision making process on long run.
For example, parents, who are suffering of Alzheimer’s disease; I would like to keep them at home, so it will be beneficial to treat disease, on the other hand I will need to place them in to residential care. Nowadays our communities are facing very complex dilemmas therefore ethical egoism is not a preferred pathway to be followed. It does not offers consistent method of resolving conflicts of self-interest. Negotiation, compromise and self-sacrifice are required to successfully solve dilemmas in communities.
The second consequential ethics theory is utilitarianism which claims that: ’one ought to do the act, the consequence of which brings about the greatest good for the greatest number of person (Desjardins, 2009). In other words, following utilitarian standards is ethical; not following is not (Klein, 2003). This theory is organised around analysing consequences, how actions will affect people involved. None of actions are ever right or wrong when you are taking a closer look at the act from different points of view (Desjardins, 2009).
Hence marketing manager should analyse the situation from different points of view and once he has all facts and data available he should make a moral decision which will benefit the majority of people suffering Alzheimer’s disease. In that scenario he will need to place promising new drug on the market. The question is, will he inform public about “typo” occurred or not? Marketing manager will need to decide, what is more beneficial for people with Alzheimer’s disease; treat disease and cause diarrhoea and gastrointestinal problems by some of them. He needs to keep in ind it is about the quality of life people with Alzheimer’s disease are living and about their future. Chemo therapy used for treatment of cancer has a lot of bad side effects such as nausea, loss of appetite, hair loss of as well, however so long no other better alternative for treatment exist doctors are using these methods (Davis, Fowler, & Aroskar, 1997). Kant’s ethics, named after German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) is one of non-consequential approaches to ethics. Kant’s moral rules are based on motive of duty (Shaw at al, 2009).
Actual consequences are irrelevant; rules are logically prior to acts. If an act is inconsistent with an acceptable rule than the act is morally wrong. Kant believed morality is natural to people and it is discovered not created. ‘The morality of an act is independent of the perspective of the agent; a belief that lying is right does not make it so (MacNiven, 1993, p. 49). ’ In our case scenario marketing manager’s duty is to promote new drug, to place new product as successfully as he can on the market.
This theory is not bothered with consequences after that. Kant’s theory is based on facts not on predictions. If drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease is available that it is marketing manager’s duty to make this drug available for people who suffer of Alzheimer’s disease. In conclusion, marketing manager has to make a moral judgement about the ethical dilemma he is facing. To assist him by making his decision three solutions were presented; egoism and utilitarianism as consequential theories and Kant’s theory as one of non-consequential theories.
Marketing manager has to decide if he will follow egoistic approach and will place priority to future existence of company, he is employed with, or he will follow utilitarianism theory and will stop marketing campaign which will place his employer in jeopardy. As non-consequential approach Kant’s theory was presented. If he will decide to follow this theory he will be just doing his job, for what he is paid for. It is his mission to complete the job without thinking on consequences which can be caused by his actions.
As marketing manager’s primary goal is to make right moral decision, he needs to decide what are his most important moral norms, what decision will best enrich his well-being and satisfaction in his life? References: Davis, A. J. , Fowler, M. D. , & Aroskar, M. A. (1997). Ethical Dilemmas & Nursing Practice. (5th ed. ). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education Inc. Desjardins, J. (2009). An Introduction to Business Ethics. (3rd ed. ). Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education. Ghillyer, A. (2010). Business Ethics: A Real World Approach. (2nd ed. ). Boston: Mcgraw-Hill Higher Education.
Klein, E. R. (2003). People First! Professional and Business Ethics without Ethics. Oxford, UK: University Press Of America. MacNiven, D. (1993). Creative Morality. London, UK: Routledge. Narveson, J. (1998). Egoism and Altruism. In R. Chadwick, Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics (pp. 15-21). London, UK: Academic Press Limited. Preston, N. (1996). Understanding Ethics. Sydney, NSW, Australia: The Federation Press. Shaw, W. H. , Barry, V. , & Sansbury, G. (2009). Moral issues in Business. (1st Asia-Pacific ed. ). South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia: Cengage Learning Australia Pty Limited.