The inclination is being a mark of a virtuous person to assume pleasure in moral obligation.

Business Ethics




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Business Ethics

Q1. The inclination is being a mark of a virtuous person to assume pleasure in moral obligation. In other words, it refers to whatever a person wants to do. The definition faced criticism from Emmanuel Kant, questioning its moral worth. Kant insisted that an individual acting subjectively on the grounds of duty at the hand of the contrary inclination shows a higher degree of moral worthiness. Kant also defined reason as metaphysical ideas that are pure independent of sensibility and understanding. According to Kant, people’s actions are governed by pure reason as opposed to religion. Some actions may bring about contradiction, but Kant insists that if one approves of a particular maxim should not lead to a disclaimer. In other words, there is no exception to one’s self. For example, if you decide to steal based on the fact that you are hungry, you approve of the maxim of stealing, and other people should always do that in similar situations. That brings about contradiction as not all people will agree on that maxim.

Hypothetical imperatives refer to the commands that people should always follow to achieve a specific goal. Hypothetical imperatives are mostly inclined to prudence rather than morality. In other words, people do things with less consideration to moral choice; instead, it is just a contingent in their desires. For example, someone who aspires to score good grades at school should always study, and if not, learning becomes an option. On the other hand, categorical imperatives (CI) are commands that people should always adhere to irrespective of their desires. They are moral obligations that people must follow as they bind all the people, and it does not matter whether or not one wants to be ethical. According to Kant, these obligations come from pure reason as what people presume right or wrong is knowable.

Q2. The first principle of CI is the universalizability principle. The approach state that people should always act based on the general rule without contraction. In other words, one should always be fair and not make an exception to his/herself in given situations. The universalizability principle demand people to always do things that they approve others to do in similar situations. According to Kant, the categorical imperative’s application always leads to a fixed moral truth, which is usable to all moral agents. Failure to adhere to those principles often brings about contradiction. Sandbu gives an analogy that involved him requiring a loan, and he is confident that he will be given the loan based on confidence that he will repay. He, however, has no plans to repay the loan.

Based on the categorical imperatives, his decisions to get a loan from someone is based on lies. The CI principles do not approve of the maxim of lying, which will lead to the lender being unable to make a rational decision. The lender is being robbed of the ability to make the right decisions to help Sandbu. CI disapproves of things like lying and deception since one will always be unable to make an autonomous decision on how to respond as such decisions are based on wrong information. In other words, Sandbu treats his money lender as a mere means to executive his objectives without any consideration of his lender’s goals and interests. Based on Sandbu’s argument, actions can be right if done based on our obligation’s inclination. The table (P. 145) indicates that it should be at least possible for its execution out of responsibility instead of a preference for moral consideration on an action. However, it does not necessarily mean that it is a prerequisite for action to be done out of duty to be regarded as right.

Q3. Kantian Company holds that people have rights or are rather preloaded with strategies for discussing which rights individuals have. Kant is more inclined to treat all humans as an end and not as a mere means. Things can be used as mere means, but when it comes to humans, that is somewhat different as people are ends in themselves. People are rational and autonomous; thus, they can set their objectives and work towards achieving them. People have always been used by others to achieve what they want but not as mere means. A company can use its employees to achieve its financial objectives but not as mere means. The logic behind that is, humans are not like any other things in the world; instead, they are governed by themselves. Humans can set their ends as well as make free judgments based on their rational wills. Humans are embused with an absolute moral; hence, they cannot manipulate or manipulate other autonomous agents for individual interests.

According to Kant, charitable giving is neither essential nor adequate for the conduct purposes of ethical business. It is evident that corporate social responsibility is somewhat an imperfect obligation in typical cases, and people’s discretion is entrusted with determining how, when, and where to discharge it. In general, there exist mere justifications to presume that anything else is applicable when it comes to business context. In other words, nobody can question an organization that it decided to engage in corporate social responsibility. Autonomy in the workplace holds that one is obligated to fulfil his/her perfect duties. It means that one should respect other people’s rights both inside and outside an organization. A Kantian workplace defines and gives much consideration to human dignity and rational autonomy working in that company. When it comes to job security, managers’ treatment of the company’s employees extends to what employees hold to their employment itself. Conventions concerned with the longevity of work by a given employee to an employee varies widely across institutions.

Q4. Autonomy is what constitutes a person’s freedom. Kant distinguishes rational morality actions that one does without contradicting with the universalization law. Rational agency predetermines a source of moral value, where all moral action gets its respective moral worthiness. Reasonable actions are subject to making unbiased choices based on wants and inclinations. People act autonomously based on their reason and free will. Alternatively, people may perform morally according to the categorical imperatives due to their willingness to be ruled by another’s law or, instead, a nonrational nature. In other words, not adhering to morality means acting against reason; thus, being unfree, in captive to an individual’s inclinations. The autonomy value often formats the categorical imperative principle called the formula of humanity. The precept demand people to “act in a manner that they treat humanity, whether themselves or that of any other, always at the same time as an end and never as a mere means.”

According to the mere means formulation, it is unacceptable to use other individuals merely as objects for their self-interests. It prompts people to pay ultimate respect to other people as autonomous choosers of their ends. By mere means, Kant does not hold that we cannot use other people to achieve our targets. It would turn to discredit many corporations as corporations require people to accomplish their goals, and so do people require corporations.

Q5. Enron company became recognized for corporate accounting fraud. It succumbed to bankruptcy after getting involved in a major scandal in 2001 following investors” realization of its exaggerated financial statements. The company officials were found guilty following the court trials and were charged with security fraudulent. The question still poses if the Enron officials were morally wrong for deception. Malcolm Gladwell particularly holds that Enron company was ethically wrong since they concealed their financial statements to the public in plain sight. Based on his argument, it was nasty reasoning as it involves two probable complications of interest. First, it can always not be the case for all participants to exercise autonomous choices to expose themselves to the probability of being held accountable. Such situations may result from tendency, desperation, and naivety. Secondly, both sides may consent to the likelihood of misleading information. However, the two analogies do not thoroughly embarrass Kant’s categorical imperatives. Based on Kantianism, the principle may accept that bluffing is certain circumstances presented by negotiations where allowance brings about a common ground to the game’s rules. More importantly, all the parties autonomously decided to take part in the game.

Categorical imperatives are commands that people should always follow irrespective of their desires. Enron company decided to manipulate their figures to get a competitive edge, which is morally inappropriate. Even though they later decided to speak the truth, their decision to conceal the truth for long made its shareholders not make their decisions autonomously. In the subprime mortgage issue, lenders actively participated in unethical practices by giving false information to the shareholders concerning mortgage portfolios diversities, not mention the applicants’ ability to service the loans. As time passed, the interest rates skyrocketed, and debts increased significantly. As such, it became impossible for the vast majority of the subprime mortgage holders to service their loans. The lenders also tricked the consumers through what they termed as “teaser rates” and deliberately ignored keeping proper loan applications’ adequate documentation.

Q6. It is wrong to induce false beliefs in the minds of the people as well as lying. However, when it comes to advertisement and marketing, companies overplay and rate highly of their products without considering how their customers feel. More often, some company’s advertisement practices bring about contradiction, and categorical imperatives hold that any moral action should not result in a paradox. During advertisements and marketing, companies should always employ categorical imperatives. Two principles that should govern marketers and advertisers are the universalizability principle and formula of humanity. Any business entity aims to make a profit. However, making profits is not all about hypothetical imperatives. In other words, business practices should be more inclined to morality than prudence.

In conclusion, marketing and advertising practices should put much consideration in moral worthiness and obligation. As such, they must satisfy the needs of the customers by offering them quality products. They should not use potential clients and old customers as their mere means to reap huge profits by providing them with some misleading information about their products. By adhering to Kant’s categorical imperative, the customers will autonomously make their decisions on their rational wills.


Sandbu, M. E. (2011). Just business: arguments in business ethics. Prentice Hall.