PHILOSOPHY 213: Business Ethics
- Fall Semester, 2001
- Dr. Scott Kimbrough
- Office hours: MWF 10:00-11:00, F 11:00-12:00 or by appointment
- Office: Council 132
- Phone: 745-7118
- Direct questions and comments to my
Last updated 12/12/01
Resources and Announcements
The popular joke about business ethics is that the term is an oxymoron. The old joke may seem to have new resonance now that business is conducted on an increasingly international scale. Different nations have different legal and moral traditions, complicating the already difficult task of telling the difference between acceptable and unacceptable business conduct. This course confronts a number of morally and legally thorny issues that arise on both a domestic and international scale. We will examine the arguments raised by partisans of conflicting viewpoints, sorting out the competing interests that motivate them. We will examine ongoing and emerging controversies regarding such topics as the conduct of multi-national corporations, the globalization of the economy, labor rights, environmentalism, and information technology. Our goal in the course is to learn to articulate and defend informed opinions on topics of contemporary concern.
D. Adams & E. Maine (eds.), Business Ethics for the 21st Century, Mayfield Publishing Company, 1998.
- Issue Summaries (10%): About once a week, an approximately one page issue summary will be assigned (assignment list). Issue summaries identify the main parties involved and the major points of contention among them with respect to particular course topics. As a guide in writing your summaries, use the following template. Issue summaries will be graded on a pass/fail basis. The final average for issue summaries will be determined by dividing the number of issue summaries passed by the total number of issue summaries assigned. For example, if ten issue summaries were assigned and only seven were handed in, the final grade would be 70. Because one of the main points of these assignments is to facilitate class discussion, late issue summaries are not accepted.
- Short Paper (15%): One 3-5 page paper is due Monday, September 13th. Class time will be devoted to a discussion of how to write a philosophy paper. You are also encouraged to consult my tips for writing philosophy papers.
- Research paper (25%): The issues we discuss in class have ramifications for major corporations, interest groups, government agencies, national governments, etc. As a result, there is a wealth of material available in both print and electronic media. Each student will sign up for a topic on the research topic list and write a 7-10 page research paper on that topic by the date specified on the topic list.
- Research Report (10%): Each student will give an approximately ten minute oral presentation to the class summarizing the main points of his or her research paper. A one to two page written summary report will also be posted on the course web page.
- Commentary on Research Reports (10%): Each student will be required to post at least three brief (paragraph length) messages to the course web page commenting on the research reports posted by other students. These comments can either criticize or support the research reports. Report authors must also post replies to the comments made on their reports.
- Final Exam (20%): The final exam for the course is comprehensive and essay format.
- Participation and Attendance (10%): Attendance and participation in discussions are expected.
There is no worse academic sin than plagiarism. Plagiarism consists in copying the work of another, in whole or in part, without citing the source. This warning goes both for print and electronic media. Plagiarized work will receive a zero.
All readings are from the Adams and Maine text unless otherwise noted.
- 8/31 The canonical view of business social responsibility: pp.28-45 (especially pp.41-45)
- 9/5 Multinational corporations: pp.47-49, pp.71-81 (Donaldson's "Moral Minimums for Multinationals"), pp.105-6 (case scenarios 1 and 2)
- 9/7 Examples of multinational conduct: pp.58-68 (H.R. Fuller case) and handout about Dominica and BHP
- 9/10 Constructing a global business ethic: Caux Round Table Principles
for Business and Statement of Core
- 9/12 The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act: pp. 49-54, pp.90-98; overview of OECD's
international anti-corruption convention
- 9/14-9/17 Economic Globalization/Free Trade: handouts from OECD ("Open Markets Matter") and
Public Citizen ("A Citizen's Guide to the WTO") (These publications are also available on the web
in pdf format at the following addresses:
- 9/19-9/21 The employment at will doctrine: pp.109-112, 119-127 (articles by Werhane and Maitland)
- 9/24 Temporary employment: pp.133-141 (Steverson)
- 9/26 Unions and permanent replacements: pp.112-113, pp.142-146 (Reich and Warner)
- 9/28-10/1 Hostile Takeovers: pp.147-155 (Newton), pp.164-5 (case scenario 3)
- 10/3 Drug screening: pp.167-172, pp.184-190 (Desjardins & Duska)
- 10/5-10/8 Genetic screening: pp.190-195 (Kupfer)
- 10/10-10/12 Evaluating OSHA: pp.172-174, pp.195-205 (Machan and Daniels)
- 10/15-10/19 Americans with Disabilities Act: pp.225-6, pp.241-254 (Leonard, Clifford & Iuculano), pp.255-258 (Chico Dairy case)
- 10/22 Legal background on affirmative action: pp.226-231, pp.258-262 (Adarand v. Pena)
- 10/24 Arguments for and against affirmative action: pp.262-275 (Ezorsky, Belz, and Purdy)
- 10/26 Legal background on sexual harassment: pp.286-290, pp.317-321 (Ellison v. Brady)
- 10/29 Sexual harassment and hostile environment: pp.321-341 (Wells & Kracher, Feary)
- 10/31 Sexual harassment and privacy: handout
- 11/2 Environmental ethics: pp.456-460, pp.464-480 (Babbitt v. Sweet Home; Baxter; Sagoff)
- 11/5-11/7 Business responsibility: pp.487-504 (Bowie, Hoffman, Guha)
- 11/9 Class canceled
- 11/12 Prospects for the information age: pp.536-544 (Gates, Rifkin)
- 11/14-11/26 Hacking and privacy: pp.525-531, pp.544-550 (Spafford), pp.561-570 (Spinello)
- 11/30 Deceptive advertising: pp.354-358, pp.362-373 (FTC v. Silueta, Preston), pp.406-407 (case scenario 1)
- 12/5-12/7 Advertising and autonomy: pp.358-360, pp.373-386 (Nelson, Lippke)
Issue Summary Topics
- Write issue summaries using the following template.
- Due Monday, 10/22: affirmative action
- Due Friday, 10/5: genetic screening in employment
- Due Wednesday, 9/19: the employment at will doctrine
- Due Wednesday, 9/5: relativism and international business practice
Student Research Paper Summaries for Fall 2001
- General information resources
- Legal information
- Government agencies
- Global issues
Dr. Kimbrough's homepage.