The Concept of Business Ethics: Normative Ethical Theories

Subject: Business Ethics
Pages: 3
Words: 1032
Reading time:
3 min
Study level: Bachelor

Normative Ethical Theories

The interconnection between the economic consequences occurring in an organization and the degree to which this company adheres to ethical standards necessitates the elaboration of ethical standards for interaction in business. For this essay, the three normative ethical theories outlined above will be analyzed in detail. It is possible to classify different theories of ethics according to how the question of whether an action is right or wrong is resolved in these theories. The author will identify the potential possibility of extrapolating the ideas of the theory to the business sphere considering the advantages and disadvantages of a particular ethical approach.


According to the utilitarian concept, it is necessary to perform such actions, due to which people will achieve the greatest satisfaction. Jeremy Bentham is considered the founder of this concept; he perceived utilitarianism as a movement seeking to maximize the utility of deeds. The utility was defined in how the act reduces the amount of evil in the world. As noted in the book “Business Ethics,” when choosing a behavior model, utilitarians reason as follows “if we want to make an ethical decision, we should ask ourselves who is helped and who is harmed by it (Byars & Stanberry, 2018).”

If, in the course of the corporation’s activities, the happiness of people and the total amount of goodness increase, such a corporation deserves the public’s respect. However, the utilitarianists do not consider how these noble goals are achieved. Consequently, it is possible to implement the provisions of this ethical theory into the company’s activities only if the means of achieving goals are also humane.


For representatives of the deontological direction, more important in the question of the morality of an action is not the consequences of a specific action but their compliance with one particular universal set of rules. In many ways, deontology is associated with Immanuel Kant since his philosophical views have several intersections with the analyzed ethical theory. In particular, Kant thought that one could judge whether a person’s act is good by the motives of this act, without looking at the consequences of such an act.

However, in the business industry, the consequences of a company’s decisions cannot be ignored. From the author’s point of view, the deontological theory should be partially integrated into business processes. It is reasonable to consider creating a certain ethical standard of rules that determine which decisions should be avoided due to their immorality. However, complete ignorance of the decision’s consequences, in turn, shows that the company cannot take responsibility for its activities, threatening the business with the loss of reputation.

Virtue Ethics

The essence of virtue ethics is that ethics is determined by prior experience. The most crucial element here is the image of the person who makes the decision. All his previous experience of interaction, all the knowledge he received earlier, all the events that have ever happened to him determine how he acts now and what he considers good and evil. Byars and Stanberry note that “the cardinal virtues to be practiced were courage, self-control, justice, and wisdom (2018).” This ethical theory has its roots in the Greek philosophical tradition. In the West, it is believed that the founders of the ethics of virtue are Plato and Aristotle. According to Aristotle, the gradual formation of virtuous habits helps a person do the right thing in difficult moral choices.

In modern business processes, decisions are made all the time. The decision to make in the overwhelming majority of cases depends on how cost-effective such a decision will be. The author believes that the virtue ethics in the context of business is only partially applicable. A democratic orientation of a company to the experience and knowledge of its employees when making important decisions can be helpful. However, it is still essential to consider objective circumstances, such as, for example, the market situation, the availability of free capital, and so on.

Final Thoughts on Business Acceptability of Analyzed Ethical Concepts

The author was able to find in the analyzed normative ethical theories strategies applicable for the business sphere. Namely, it seems reasonable to create a standard for interaction rules. When making decisions, it seems necessary to consider the ethics of the means to achieve goals and how humane its overall economic performance. Therefore, before introducing classical ethical theories into business, it is necessary to adjust them, leaving only elements suitable for business activity. The usage of not adapted ethical theories is considered entirely not applicable. These are the author’s observations on the topic of the essay.


Byars, S.M., & Stanberry, K. (2018). Business Ethics. OpenStax.