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Business Law Chapter 5 Homework Discussion Points For Scenario Questions Rank The

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4 pages
Word Count
1064 words
Book Title
Applied Business Ethics: A Skills-Based Approach 1st Edition
Authors
Dean Bredeson
MODULE 5: Kant's Duty Ethics
Core Module Issues:
When a person or a company does a “good deed”, does the motive for
doing the good deed matter?
If it does matter, what motives make for the best actions?
If it does not matter, why does it not matter?
Module Teaching Notes
This module looks at a second of Kant's specific ideas: duty ethics.
Kant and other deontological thinkers argue that, to be ethical, decisions must be made for good
reasons. They counter the utilitarian position that good decisions are those which produce the
most favorable outcome for the largest number of people.
Kant awards the most points on his scorecard it is the “highest calling”, if you will – to actions
taken strictly out of a sense of duty or obligation. Any person, whether moral or not, will do things
when he wants to. Similarly, any person, whether moral or not, will act out a fear of negative
consequences. But only a moral person will act out of a sense of obligation.
I present these ideas as Kant's, and not my own. I find it important to take a position myself as
infrequently as possible. If students think that I agree with a particular point, then a majority of
them (not all, but a majority) will tend to support the idea as well. I see my role as referee; neutral
arbitrator. I present ideas, but I seldom pass judgment on them.
After presenting the central duty ethics idea, I usually take comments and have a general
discussion for a few minutes after asking, “does that seem true or reasonable?”
Then, as a follow up question, I'll present the hypothetical raised in the “background” of the
textbook's module on the student who passes the homeless man. If the student gives the man 50
cents out of kindness, or fear, or a sense of obligation, does it really make a difference? Are all
three gifts equivalent, or is one better than the others?
I often also add a final “warm up” question, and present this question: “Support three people
donate a $10 teddy bear to the police department's “Brown Santa” program which benefits children.
One makes the gift because it will make him feel good, a second does so because the people she
is with make a donation, and she fears that her friends will think less of her if she does not donate
a toy, and a third makes the gift out of a sense of obligation. Are the gifts the same, because they
will each lead to a child receiving a teddy bear, or is one gift better than another.
I find that different examples will sometimes shift students' opening positions.
Now it is time to address the scenario. I usually briefly recap the four companies (Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and
Delta) for the students who have, perhaps, merely skimmed the material, and then dive into the questions.
Discussion Points for Scenario Questions
1. Rank the four donations from most admirable to least admirable. You may assess that some
or all of them are “tied,” or are of equal value.
A. WHAT WERE YOUR RANKINGS? TAKE SEVERAL STUDENTS'
COMMENTS.
2. If you assessed some as “better” than others, which were better and why? If you ranked all of
the gifts as the same, why are all of these the same quality?
A. TAKE COMMENTS FROM STUDENTS WITH SOME HIGHER THAN
OTHERS. ARE ALL FOUR DISTINCTLY DIFFERENT, OR DO YOU HAVE
SOME TIES?
B. IS KANT'S FAVORITE YOUR FAVORITE? WHY OR WHY NOT?
3. Do any of the gifts seem more sustainable? In other words, would you expect that some of
the companies would be more likely than others to make the same gift next year and the year
after? If so, which motivations seem more likely to lead to continuous support?
A. WHICH OF THE FOUR GIFTS SEEMS MOST LIKELY TO BE REPEATED
NEXT YEAR?
B. IS KANT'S FAVORITE THE ONE THAT SEEMS MOST SUSTAINABLE?
4. Consider Beta Company. What percentage of corporate gifts do you imagine are made for
this kind of reason? Nearly all? Half? Just a few? Assume that you heard about Beta Company's
gift to Youth Meals. Now, assume that later, you learned that they only make the gift because
they thought they would make more money than the amount of the gift. Would this bother you?
Would you be less likely to buy the company's products?
A. TAKE COMMENTS FROM SKEPTICAL STUDENTS: WHY DO YOU THINK
MOST CORPORATE DONATIONS ARE MADE FOR “BETA COMPANY”-
LIKE REASONS?
5. Do you tend to view companies more favorably if they make charitable donations and
support “good causes”? Have you ever switched brands or remained loyal to a company because
of that kind of thing, or is that not something that has ever influenced your own decision to buy
or not buy a product?
A. ASK THE STUDENTS IF THEY CAN NAME A COMPANY THAT HAS
DONE “GOOD DEEDS”.

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