Business Ethics

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Task 1.1. Explain the background and development of theoretical ethical approaches in Pfizer.

Antonio Ramirez (2008) consider ethics as "a science that helps us to know human, behaviour and society as a whole". Ethics is based on moral duty, but without overlapping with the study of philosophy or a general theory of moral duty. It should also be clarified an essential difference between ethics and deontology. Thus, while ethics includes studied philosophy, deontology is an applied science.

Professional ethics is based on the concept of good content: what is good to do, what kind of good is accomplished by various activities, as well as various activities to be promoted.

Deontology deals with the obligations and liabilities in an attempt to articulate a set of rules that govern each profession (Airaksinen 2000).

There is a link between ethics and professional deontology. Ethics offers several possibilities for defining professional ethics of the good in them reflected some rules that apply equally to all those working in that profession. In other words ethics related to individual conscience while deontology is determined by what is approved by the professional bodies.

Description taken into account in deontological ethical theory would be:

ÆMoral agent is as a person who performs an action with the capacity to act morally.

ÆMaxim: rule or principle

ÆWill: the sense of deciding, choosing, or acting

Kantian moral has developed specific notes of a deontological thinking without ignore the implications of inner happiness are possible and argued that actions who have moral value are only those that result from an autonomous will. As Kant said " the moral value of an action is determined by the human will". Good will is exercised by acting according to moral duty/law. Moral law consists of a set of maxims, which are unconditional in nature as Human beings are bound by duty to act in accordance with unconditional (categorical) imperatives.

The three expressions of Kant’s unconditional (categorical) imperative, are to act as:

Æonly according to maxim

Æin such a way that you treat humanity

Æevery rational being must act as if they were through maxim always a legislating member in the universal kingdom;

Teleological moral systems are characterized primarily by focusing on the possible consequences that could have of any action (for this reason, they are often referred to as a consequential moral systems). According to this theory the fairness of an act is determined by its end. Teleological ethical theory specifies in clear terms the principle behind moral judgment, and solves some fundamental problems regarding its application.

Utilitarianism of John Stuart Mill is part of hedonistic ethics consistent and he believed that action is good to the extent that contribute to the happiness of a maximum number of people, based on a principle of qualitative differentiation of values.

Moral Absolutism claims that there are few moral rules that are always true that these rules can be found and apply to everyone. Absolutism has a universal vision of humanity - is a set of rules for everyone - enabling the development of universal norms (e.g. the Declaration of Human Rights).

In order to relate the above theories with the study case we would describe Pfizer Company overview:

The Pfizer company's history has began in 1849, in New York, when German cousins immigrants Charles Pfizer and Charles Erhart have started production of inputs for the preparation of medicines. The worldwide recognition came when the pair has had made possible the large-scale production of penicillin. Being one of the largest pharmaceutical manufacturer in the world does not necessarily mean to be the best. The American company Pfizer, was ranked fifth among the largest players in the local pharmaceutical which:

discovers, develops, manufactures and markets prescription medicines in 11 therapeutic areas including oncology, cardiovascular, pain, neuroscience and infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS.

is the world’s largest animal health company. Martin Mackay, the new chief of research and development at Pfizer, the largest pharmaceutical market player in the world, wants to help the company to make progress in small steps, but safe.

conducts more biomedical research than any other organisation, and has 12,000 professionals working in six major R&D sites worldwide, including Sandwich in Kent.

has control on international licensing rights in order to maximize their profits with slightly care for people in need of drugs;

employs approximately 90,000 colleagues worldwide, all of whom are devoted to working for a healthier world.

The professional ethics requires the setting of internal rules in every profession, which may take the form of "good practice", "codes of ethics" or " deontological codes".

Teleological ethical theories applies to Pfizer as are theories that describe Pfizer responsibilities and obligations in terms of their level of certain goals or ends. Thus, in order to make the correct moral choices, Pfizer must have an understanding of what will result from their choices. When they make choices that lead to correct consequences, then they act morally; when they make choices that lead to unfair consequences, then they are acting immorally.

In Pfizer ethics requires motivation, motivation determines a certain manner of action and behaviour variations lead to consequences more or less serious for people interacting.

Theological theory applies to Pfizer as they said they are devoted to work for a healthier world. In this plan, the responsibility - the hard core of business ethics - presents a triple opening / reporting: inwards, towards subordinates, to society / community. From this perspective, sociological determination of responsibility is a fundamental function of business ethics.

As US Securities and Exchange Commission announced in 2012 that it came to a $ 45 million agreement with Pfizer to sort out charges that its subsidiaries, particularly Wyeth, who bribed overseas doctors and other healthcare professionals to increase external sales (Corp-research /Pfizer).

Task 1.2. Compare and contrast absolute and relative ethics in relation to Pfizer

PV Lewis defines business ethics as "that set of principles or arguments that should govern the conduct of in business, either individually or collectively." If we agree that there are many things that business people should not make them, business ethics in this second meaning refers to what people should do in business (Lewis, 2005). The feeling that everything is becoming increasingly confusing, note that after Lewis delineates its business ethics issues in the rules of moral behaviour that indicate economic agents to be and what not to do in their specific activity.

Flynn (2008) defines business ethics as "a hinge, application and evaluation values and moral positions of the organization that is shaped internally and externally". These values are derived and developed an organizational culture in which the organization's mission and vision consist of professional and managerial performance and the achievement of the organization's current practices. Business Ethics consists of processes that are ethical issues associated with areas of business, finance and management. In addition, organizational ethics also requires establishing and maintaining professional relationships, educational and contractual (Flynn 2008).

Approaches on ethical principles

Kantianism v Utilitarianism

The most influential deontological moral theory has been that advanced by Kant, who introduced the idea of the categorical imperative. The viewpoint of Kant underlines the importance of rationality, consistency, fairness, and respect for people in the way we live our lives. Theory of duty is by excellence a Kantian theory. Theory of moral law is mandatory, as a whole corollary of moral norms. An obligation that requires obedience without any source without any external purpose, a binding "itself". The central concept of duty Kant characterizes action necessarily fulfilled in respect for the law that is not determined by a higher court. Such autonomous will give their maximum to himself that apply only to the extent that may be taken as a universal law. Thus, moral duty, the categorical imperative is the only normative principle of action and impose recognition and respect for humanity in each person. We should, according to Kant, value and base our actions on reason and duty, and not on emotion, pleasure, or inclination (Ferrell, Fraedrich, Ferrell, 2000).


1. Antonio Ramirez (2008) " Ethics in Enterprise" (La empresa en la ethics)", Research and Reflection XVI No. 2 December, ISBN: 0121-6805

2. Airaksinen, Timo, (2000) "Professional Ethics", Encyclopaedia of Applied Ethics, vol. 3, Academic Press, , pp.671-682

3. Arjoon, S. (2005). „Corporate governance: An ethical perspective”. Journal of Business Ethics, 61, 343-352.

4. Baxi, C., V. & Pasad, Aijit (2006), Corporate Social Responsabilities. New York: Excel Books

5. Bingham, J.; Dyer, W.G.; Smith, Isaac H.; Adams, G, (2011) "A stakeholder identity orientation approach to corporate social performance in family firms" Journal of Business Ethics vol.99.4 p 565-585, Springer London Limited.

6. Brendan F. Brown, ed. (2000) The Natural Law Reader, New York, Oceania Publications, , p. 101-104

7. Carroll, Archie B. (2000) Three Dimensional Conceptual Model of Corporate Performance, Academy of Management Review, pp 499

8. Freeman, R.E. (2000) Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach, Pitman, Boston, (2001) ‘Stakeholder theory’, in Werhane, P. and Freeman, R.E. (Eds.): The Blackwell Encyclopedic Dictionary of Business Ethics , Blackwell, Oxford/Malden, MA, pp.602–606.

9. Ferrell O.C,John Fraedrich, Linda Ferrell(2000),Business Ethics, 4th Ed, Boston, N.Y

10. Freeman, R.E. Gabriel Flynn (ed.) 2008, Leadership and business ethics, Springer Press, Dublin, pp. 165-166

11. Gordon C Wells; Peter Baehr; Max Webber, (2014) The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism", New York, Scribner [1958], Penguin Books

12. Immanuel Kant, (2000) Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, translated by James W. Ellington. 3rd edition. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co, p. 15

13. Johns, Taylor (2005) Don't be afraid of the moral maze, People Management, Vol. l, no. 20.

14. Kagan Shelly (2000) The Limits of Morality (Dimensions of Philosophy), Oxford University Press, ISBN- 0-19-823916-5

15. Luk Bouckaert, Laszlo Zsolnai, (2011) Handbook of Spirituality and Business, Palgrave& Macmillan, pp. 390

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