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Wednesday, 31 July 2013 14:57

Ethics Problem and Rationalization Featured

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Ethics Problem and Rationalization

 When doing business it is vital for an organization to take time and make ethical considerations to the decisions and choices they make. Unfortunately, most businesses engage in unethical practices as they rationalize their actions. Rationalization is a powerful ethics risk as it involves attempts to justify that appears wrong. Rationalization also involves attempts to excuse an act that is ordinarily wrong hence avoiding blame. Statements such as everybody else is doing it, and we are not breaking any laws are Unethical misconducts rationalized through excuse. The first statement, for instance, is an attempt to justify a misconduct based on the number of people engaging in a similar act. Just because many people are engaging in the same  act, does not mean the act is ethical. The second statement is an excuse of a misconduct based on laws. Unfortunately, ethics goes beyond the law and is determined by values and customs of society (Jennings, 2011). An action must thus not be viewed from a legal perspective, but also ethical as there are some actions that are not illegal but unethical.

 Another excuse “ no one will get hurt” is an attempt to justify an unethical action. The excuse aims to convince concerned individuals that though an act may be unethical it will not result to any harm. The compliance dodge is another technique of rationalizing misconduct. Statements such as you can be too ethical are an excuse to permit an unethical act. In other words, the statement aims to justify why an unethical act must be considered over an ethical action. Other statements such as our competitors would have no problem with this strategy, and they can afford it are arguments that attempt to justify a deception or an unethical act. This leads to a tendency to disregard the ethical aspect of an action as only one considers the results of the impending action. Other statements aim to justify an act because the person who gave the directive is a person of status (Jennings, 2011). This leads to excuses such as my boss told me to do it. Just because an authoritative figure approves an action does not mean that the act becomes ethical. Such statements are mostly used, by subordinates, to alienate from sticky ethical issues that arise. Without reasoning, a subordinate followed the order given by his boss.  When ethical issues arise the employee justifies his actions using the authority of the boss.

  In any situation, the need for moral rationalization is mandatory as it ensures the integration of virtues and reason in an act. Ethics guides morals and actions of people hence the need to engage in reasonable thinking before making a decision over an action. Without moral rationalism organizations tend to engage in misguided and unethical practices, which they attempt to justify using different means. If an action is not illegal for instance, it does not mean it is ethical. It is vital, therefore that organizations make decisions not only based on the legality of an action, but also the moral aspect (Jennings, 2011). Employees should also ensure that the actions they undertake are ethical and hence should not blindly follow orders provided by the superiors. Employees should take time to make ethical considerations of actions they have been ordered to undertake and raise concerns if they appear unethical. Organizations must not only focus on selfish self-centered interest, but they should consider the effect of an action on other individuals too.


Jennings, M.(2011). Business ethics: case studies and selected readings. Cengage learning


Last modified on Wednesday, 31 July 2013 15:07
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