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The Financial crisis - A Case Study
Question: Answer all five parts.
1.1 Identify each of the stakeholders and how they are affected. What are the main harms and benefits in this case for the different stakeholders based on the current situation?
1.2 From a utilitarian perspective, would you argue for or against the proposed tightening of UK banking regulation?
1.3 Using arguments based on the ‘maxims’ of duty, would you consider the UK banks to have acted ethically in their operations?
1.4 What clashes of rights are involved in this situation? Is it possible to judge their relative importance? Whose rights matter most in this situation?
1.5 Select and apply two other normative theories to critically examine the current situation? (20 MARKS)
(Word guideline 1,700 words not including appendices)
APPENDIX : A Basic Methodology for applying Normative Ethical Theory to Case Studies:
(in most cases more concerned with ‘external’ than ‘internal’)
This forms the groundwork for a balanced and thorough discussion from different perspectives. It is reasonable to expect each stakeholder group to act in their own legitimate ‘self-interest’, and therefore to have their own expectations in any given situation. Specific normative theories should then be further applied to develop a pluralistic critique.
a) identify and compare ‘harms’ and benefits for each stakeholder group
b) reach an informed conclusion on ‘the greatest good for the greatest number’
a) for each stakeholder group identify which basic human ‘rights’ are relevant
b) rank ‘rights’ according those which are most ‘inalienable’
a) MAXIM 1. For the issue being considered, ask ‘What if everyone acted in the same way? (The consistency test)
b) MAXIM 2. Are the actors treating other people the way they would like to be treated? ( a test for respect of persons, i.e. treating them as of intrinsic value and not just the means to an end)
c) MAXIM 3. What if the whole world knew what the actors are doing? (the Universality test, sometimes referred to as the ‘New York Times’ test, by assuming the actions were put on a newspaper front page
a) Virtue ethics
This focuses on the actors, rather than the business situation, and considers how character both shapes and is shaped by actions and habits of behaviour developed.
The perspective depends on first identifying what are appropriate ‘virtues’ in any context – these are often the ‘values’ identified in Codes of Conduct, and ‘Values’ Statements
The theory can be applied at an individual and an organisational level – often people who become ‘whistle-blowers’ find that their own personal values are in conflict with their organisation, and that to preserve their own character and integrity they are forced to become disloyal to an organisation, and to break an unwritten code of silence
b) Environmental ethics
This is of growing importance as the impacts of enterprise on environmental degradation of air, land and water is recognized. There are two main approaches:
i) the ‘polluter pays’ principle – this argues that use of natural resources should not be free to business, nor should the costs of cleaning up the environment be external to companies. It results in initiatives such as Carbon Trading
ii) a ‘biocentric’ view, known as ‘deep ecology’. This approach refuses to consider economic activity from just an ‘anthropomorphic’ standpoint, and sees human social systems as part of a wider bio-system with which they are interdependent, and on whom they are dependent for survival – business activity should leave no footprint.
Both approaches are similar in viewing the need for ‘sustainability’ as a key business objective.
c) Discourse ethics
This relies on building mutual understanding through debate and dialogue. It assumes people will do what is rational, if enough discussion can be conducted to determine an optimum course of action.
d) Post-modern ethics
This doubts the wisdom of even pretending that man is a purely rational creature, or that common understanding is even truly possible. It instead relies on personal emotive reactions to specific situations, and the responses which follow from personal feelings.
e) Other theoriesN.B. There exist very diverse theories on ethics, these are just a few of the most influential ideas. Personal study may identify other useful ideas to apply e.g. contractualism