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Business Law Chapter 1 Homework Has Anyone Rated The Plan 1 What

Page Count
5 pages
Word Count
1194 words
Book Title
Applied Business Ethics: A Skills-Based Approach 1st Edition
Authors
Dean Bredeson
MODULE 1: Intentional Misrepresentations: Are Some Lies
Better than Others?
Core Module Issues:
Can lying ever be justified?
Can lying in business ever be justified?
Under what specific circumstances (if any) is deception acceptable?
Module Teaching Notes
This opening module is meant to spark discussion on a first day of class. Before presenting any
specific ideas, I like to start my course with a broad look at lying.
Deception is at the heart of most unethical behavior. It is possible to be entirely truthful and to
behave badly at the same time, but it is more difficult. Misleading words and actions are often the
cornerstone of unethical behavior.
But at times, lying is clearly OK. After using many examples over many years, I have settled upon
Operation Fortitude as the best example of deception that can be morally justified. No sensible
person can argue that the Allies should have played nicely with the Nazis. Establishing that lying
can be desirable, at least sometimes, is a good starting point for class discussion.
If you know anything about World War II, you might want to expand on the brief sketch I have in my
background. My students seem very content to hear stories about conflict, wherever they may be
found. More detail about the atrocities of concentration camps, or casualties during battles, might
make for good lecture material. A map showing the English Channel area might make for a good
visual aid.
After describing Operation Fortitude, the module focuses on a person contemplating lying in a
more conventional situation. Feel free to add another example or two of regular business lies, if
you wish. You might describe a lie to government regulators, or to a coworker, or to a manager.
The heart of this module is the degree to which there is a difference between lies in regular and in
extraordinary circumstances.
To me, the Harold character in the second half of the module is clearly in the wrong. But I try to be as
nonjudgmental as possible when students make comments in favor of Harolds lie. I am trying, over the
course of the semester, trying to persuade my students to behave well at work. But it is subtle and long-
term persuasion. Hitting students over the head on the first day of class with sets of, You must do this or
you cant do that rules is a sure way to diminish interest in the course.
In most courses, faculty members are experts and they state facts with authority. In an ethics course, I
believe that you can best serve your students if you act as a moderator. Sensible ideas will win the debate
most of the time without being pushed by the instructor.
1. Rate Harolds plan to lie to his bank to secure the $100,000 loan so that he is able to pay his
employees.
A. HAS ANYONE RATED THE PLAN AS 4 OR HIGHER?
1. WHAT ARE THE STUDENT’S JUSTIFICATIONS FOR HIS/HER
ANSWER(S)?
2. WHAT SINGLE FACT MIGHT BE CHANGED SO THAT HIS/HER
RATING IS KNOCKED DOWN SUBSTANTIALLY?
B. HAS ANYONE RATED THE PLAN AS 1?
1. WHAT ARE THE STUDENT’S JUSTIFICATIONS FOR HIS/HER
ANSWER(S)?
2. WHAT SINGLE FACT MIGHT BE CHANGED SO THAT HE/SHE
INCREASES HIS/HER RATING SUBSTANTIALLY?
2. Now assume that a year passes, and that business does in fact pick up for Harolds company.
He is able to repay the loan in full, with interest. No one is laid off from Harolds company, no
one misses a paycheck, and Harolds lie is never caught. Is the rating the same with the benefit of
hindsight? Do the ends at least partially justify the means?
A. HAS ANYONE CHANGED HIS OR HER RATING? WHAT SPECIFICALLY
MADE THE STUDENT CHANGE HIS MIND?
B. DO THE ENDS GENERALLY JUSTIFY THE MEANS? IF THINGS TURN
OUT OK, DOES THAT MAKE THE DECISION OK?
C. DOES ANYONE IS STILL RATE HAROLD AS A 1? LET THAT STUDENT
3. What, specifically, makes Operation Fortitude a better lie than Harolds planned course of
action?
A. DOES EVERYONE AGREE THAT OPERATION FORTITUDE IS
ACCEPTABLE? IF ANYONE DISAGREES, GIVE THAT STUDENT THE
FLOOR AND LET OTHERS RESPOND.
B. ASK STUDENTS WHAT MAKES OPERATION FORTITUDE MORE
REASONABLE.
C. ARE BUSINESSES IN COMPETITION WITH EACH OTHER IN THE SAME
WAY THAT ARMIES OR FOOTBALL TEAMS ARE IN COMPETITION WITH
EACH OTHER? PLAY DEVILS ADVOCATE FOR A MOMENT AND
PRESENT THAT IDEA THAT THIS CONCEPT IS TRUE. WITH SUCH A
JUSTIFICATION, WHY IS HAROLD BAD HERE?
4. Now speaking generally, when is making a misrepresentation acceptable? (Check all that
apply): To protect life or the physical safety of people, to protect a job, to protect another
persons feelings, to gain an advantage, to get out of trouble, when others expect it and may do
the same (war, poker, football).
A. ASK STUDENTS ABOUT THESE ITEMS ONE AT A TIME, STARTING
WITH TO PROTECT A JOB. (YOU WILL HAVE ALREADY DISCUSSED
THE FIRST EXAMPLE WHILE TALKING ABOUT OPERATION FORTITUDE.)
1. IF ANYONE HAS SAID YES TO A CATEGORY, ASK THAT
PERSON FOR A SPECIFIC EXAMPLE, ALLOWING FOR
DISAGREEMENT FROM OTHER STUDENTS.
B. REPEAT THE PROCEDURE FOR ALL REMAINING CATEGORIES. THIS
QUESTION IS THE HEART OF THE MODULE AND WILL PROBABLY
GENERATE 10-20 MINUTES OF LIVELY DISCUSSION. LET THE STUDENTS
IMAGINATIVE EXAMPLES DRIVE THE DISCUSSION.
5. Rate the degree to which you believe different groups of people to be trustworthy. Fill in, as
appropriate, all, most, some, few, or none in the blanks.
_________ of my closest family members and friends can be counted on to be truthful.
_________ of my peers can be counted on to be truthful.
_________ people in general can be counted on to be truthful.
[WHAT ARE YOUR ANSWERS FOR EACH GROUP? THIS IS A GOOD
WRAP-UP FOR THE MODULE, AND WILL GIVE YOU A GOOD READ ON
WHETHER YOU HAVE A MOSTLY POSITIVE OR MOSTLY CYNICAL
AUDIENCE.]

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