What is ethics? A few years ago, sociologist Raymond Baumhart asked business people, “What does ethics mean to you? ” Among their replies were the following: “Ethics has to do with what my feelings tell me is right or wrong. “”Ethics has to do with my religious beliefs. “”Being ethical is doing what the law requires. “”Ethics consists of the standards of behavior our society accepts. “”I don’t know what the word means. ” The meaning of “ethics” is hard to pin down, and the views many people have about ethics are shaky. Like Baumhart’s first respondent, many people tend to equate ethics with their feelings.
But being ethical is clearly not a matter of following one’s feelings. A person following his or her feelings may recoil from doing what is right. In fact, feelings frequently deviate from what is ethical. Being ethical is also not the same as following the law. The law often incorporates ethical standards to which most citizens subscribe. But laws, like feelings, can deviate from what is ethical. Being ethical is not the same as doing “whatever society accepts. ” In any society, most people accept standards that are, in fact, ethical.
But standards of behavior in society can deviate from what is ethical. Moreover, if being ethical were doing “whatever society accepts,” then to find out what is ethical, one would have to find out what society accepts. To decide what I should think about abortion, for example, I would have to take a survey of American society and then conform my beliefs to whatever society accepts. But no one ever tries to decide an ethical issue by doing a survey. Further, the lack of social consensus on many issues makes it impossible to equate ethics with whatever society accepts.
Some people accept abortion but many others do not. If being ethical were doing whatever society accepts, one would have to find an agreement on issues which does not, in fact, exist. What, then, is ethics? Ethics is two things. First, ethics refers to well based standards of right and wrong that prescribe what humans ought to do, usually in terms of rights, obligations, benefits to society, fairness, or specific virtues. Ethics, for example, refers to those standards that impose the reasonable obligations to refrain from rape, stealing, murder, assault, slander, and fraud.
Ethical standards also include those that enjoin virtues of honesty, compassion, and loyalty. And, ethical standards include standards relating to rights, such as the right to life, the right to freedom from injury, and the right to privacy. Such standards are adequate standards of ethics because they are supported by consistent and well founded reasons. Secondly, ethics refers to the study and development of one’s ethical standards. As mentioned above, feelings, laws, and social norms can deviate from what is ethical. So it is necessary to constantly examine one’s standards to ensure that they are reasonable and well-founded.
Ethics also means, then, the continuous effort of studying our own moral beliefs and our moral conduct, and striving to ensure that we, and the institutions we help to shape, live up to standards that are reasonable and solidly-based. How ethics evolve? Two sorts of factors come up in recent arguments for an innate basis of ethics: Emotional. These tend to be stressed by evolutionary theorists, following Darwin and his sources in 18th-century moral philosophy. Basic emotions. In line with the tradition stemming from 17th-century philosophy, there’s an attempt to understand emotions in terms of a primitive set.
The standard list doesn’t include social emotions – and not all entries apply to nonhuman animals – but it’s expandable to moral emotions via appeal beyond facial expression. Mechanisms of social transfer of emotions. Infants’ tendency to facial imitation, gaze-following, emotional contagion or empathy, and similar factors explain the importance of cultural influence on emotions, even assuming an innate basis. Conceptual. These are stressed by approaches derived from Kant (Piaget, Chomsky, etc. ). It is a set of principles that people use to decide what is right and what is wrong.
Parents are the true replicas of ethics. They are the best guides and examples of ethics. We don’t have to drill in ethics to your child. The child will reflect parents ethics, be they good or bad. From the very first day of their lives, children begin to trust us wholeheartedly. Yet, these little innocent lives, are often subjected to no ethics. Why? Cause ever so often they hear their mother and father lie. When? Just in case the child attends a party and gets up late for school. Little ears hear mother pick up the telephone and call in a holiday for her child, telling the voice n the other side that the child is sick. The child now knows, that’s not true. He thinks its ok! to tell lies. Then again, little ears pick up lies, when they hear their father shout, when the telephone rings, “Tell them I’m not in Johnny’. What do you expect? Think of little Johnny going to school, without doing his homework. His little mind is racing, what lies can he tell his teacher. He blurts out” I was having a bad headache last evening”, Mrs. Brown. Just then Johnny’s little friend, shouts out ,’Oh! No, that’s isn’t true Mrs. Brown. Johnny was out with me last evening.
Now, watch Mrs. Brown getting quite surprised. Why should you lie, Johnny? she asks rather sternly. Johnny is now ashamed, tears fill his eyes. I didn’t think its wrong Mrs Brown, he replied quite sheepishly, cause mother and father always does the same thing. How many times, have we heard such horrible things? Where children are succumbed to such embarrassment for no fault of theirs. Teaching ethics starts at home. Parents must take up this responsibility very seriously. Ethics will build up the character of a child and this in turn the society.
Schools also do play a very vital role in moulding the character of a child in a very positive way. Teacher’s too must not sit back and think its Ok, for a child to say a lie and then just pat the child on the back and tell them never to repeat it. Instead, a teacher should make the child understand, what are the effects of long term liars, thieves and bad behaviour. They should be guided every day and every moment. Teaching ethics does begin at home, but every person who is connected with the child is equally responsible to imbibe ethics in a child’s life. Teaching ethics, doesn’t take a day but a lifetime.
Five Sources of Ethical Standards The Utilitarian ApproachSome ethicists emphasize that the ethical action is the one that provides the most good or does the least harm, or, to put it another way, produces the greatest balance of good over harm. The ethical corporate action, then, is the one that produces the greatest good and does the least harm for all who are affected-customers, employees, shareholders, the community, and the environment. Ethical warfare balances the good achieved in ending terrorism with the harm done to all parties through death, injuries, and destruction.
The utilitarian approach deals with consequences; it tries both to increase the good done and to reduce the harm done. The Rights ApproachOther philosophers and ethicists suggest that the ethical action is the one that best protects and respects the moral rights of those affected. This approach starts from the belief that humans have a dignity based on their human nature per se or on their ability to choose freely what they do with their lives. On the basis of such dignity, they have a right to be treated as ends and not merely as means to other ends.
The list of moral rights -including the rights to make one’s own choices about what kind of life to lead, to be told the truth, not to be injured, to a degree of privacy, and so on-is widely debated; some now argue that non-humans have rights, too. Also, it is often said that rights imply duties-in particular, the duty to respect others’ rights. The Fairness or Justice ApproachAristotle and other Greek philosophers have contributed the idea that all equals should be treated equally. Today we use this idea to say that ethical actions treat all human beings equally-or if unequally, then fairly based on some standard that is defensible.
We pay people more based on their harder work or the greater amount that they contribute to an organization, and say that is fair. But there is a debate over CEO salaries that are hundreds of times larger than the pay of others; many ask whether the huge disparity is based on a defensible standard or whether it is the result of an imbalance of power and hence is unfair. The Common Good ApproachThe Greek philosophers have also contributed the notion that life in community is a good in itself and our actions should contribute to that life.
This approach suggests that the interlocking relationships of society are the basis of ethical reasoning and that respect and compassion for all others-especially the vulnerable-are requirements of such reasoning. This approach also calls attention to the common conditions that are important to the welfare of everyone. This may be a system of laws, effective police and fire departments, health care, a public educational system, or even public recreational areas. The Virtue ApproachA very ancient approach to ethics is that ethical actions ought to be consistent with certain ideal virtues that provide for the full development of our humanity.
These virtues are dispositions and habits that enable us to act according to the highest potential of our character and on behalf of values like truth and beauty. Honesty, courage, compassion, generosity, tolerance, love, fidelity, integrity, fairness, self-control, and prudence are all examples of virtues. Virtue ethics asks of any action, “What kind of person will I become if I do this? ” or “Is this action consistent with my acting at my best? ” With this thought that ethics is something innate and each person has his/her own set of principles which they call their ethics.
With help of this paper I will try and explore into Marketing ethics which is of my interestt as I am doing my majors in marketing. Marketing ethics Ethics refers to the study of moral principles, or “right and wrong”, therefore marketing ethics is all about marketers doing the “right thing”. Exactly what the right thing is, is not always completely clear-cut since what is “right” may vary depending on whether you are looking at it from the perspective of the company, its customers or the society in which they both exist.
There are however several basic principles involved in ethical marketing : Taking responsibility : marketers need to take responsibility for their products and their decisions. In the past marketers have often responded to social concern about particular products by defending them on the basis of “It was what the customer wanted”; Dealing fairly : marketers need to be honest and fair in their dealings with all stakeholders.
This means that products must be fit for use and accurately described, and contracts (both formal and implicit) should be drawn up in good faith and honoured; Respecting consumer rights : including the right of redress, the right to information and the right to privacy; ? In a market economy, a business may be expected to act in what it believes to be its own best interest. The purpose of marketing is to create a competitive advantage. An organization achieves an advantage when it does a better job than its competitors at satisfying the product and service requirements of its target markets.
Those organizations that develop a competitive advantage are able to satisfy the needs of both customers and the organization. As our economic system has become more successful at providing for needs and wants, there has been greater focus on organizations’ adhering to ethical values rather than simply providing products. This focus has come about for two reasons First, when an organization behaves ethically, customers develop more positive attitudes about the firm, its products, and its services. Second, ethical abuses frequently lead to pressure (social or government) for institutions to assume greater responsibility for their actions.
Unfair or Deceptive Marketing Practices ? Marketing practices are deceptive if customers believe they will get more value from a product or service than they actually receive. Deception, which can take the form of a omission, misinterpretation or misleading practice, can occur when working with any element of the marketing mix. Because consumers are exposed to great quantities of information about products and firms, they often become skeptical of marketing claims and selling messages and act to protect themselves from being deceived.
Thus, when a product or service does not provide expected value, customers will often seek a different source. Deceptive pricing practices cause customers to believe that the price they pay for some unit of value in a product or service is lower than it really is. The deception might take the form of making false price comparisons, providing misleading suggested selling prices, omitting important conditions of the sale, or making very low price offers available only when other items are purchased as well.
Promotion practices are deceptive when the seller intentionally misstates how a product is constructed or performs, does not disclose information regarding pyramid sales (a sales technique in which a person is recruited into a plan and then expects to make money by recruiting other people), or employs bait-and-switch selling techniques (a technique in which a business offers to sell a product or service, often at a lower price, in order to attract customers who are then encouraged to purchase a more expensive item). False r greatly exaggerated product or service claims are also deceptive. When packages are intentionally mislabeled as to contents, size, weight, or use information, that constitutes deceptive packaging. Selling hazardous or defective products without disclosing the dangers, failing to perform promised services, and not honoring guarantee/warranty obligations are also considered deception. Offensive Materials and Objectionable Marketing Practices Marketers control what they say to customers as well as and how and where they say it.
When events, television or radio programming, or publications sponsored by a marketer, in addition to products or promotional materials, are perceived as offensive, they often create strong negative reactions. This is particularly true when a product is being marketed in other countries, where words and images may carry different meanings than they do in the host country. When people feel that products or appeals are offensive, they may pressure vendors to stop carrying the product.
Thus, all promotional messages must be carefully screened and tested, and communication media, programming, and editorial content selected to match the tastes and interests of targeted customers. Beyond the target audience, however, marketers should understand that there are others who are not customers who might receive their appeals and see their images and be offended. Direct marketing is also one issue to be dealt with. Objectionable practices range from minor irritants, such as the timing and frequency of sales letters or commercials, to those that are offensive or even illegal.
Among examples of practices that may raise ethical questions are persistent and high-pressure selling, telemarketing calls, and television commercials that are too long or run too frequently. Marketing appeals created to take advantage of young or inexperienced consumers or senior citizens— including advertisements, sales appeals disguised as contests, junk mail (including electronic mail), and the use and exchange of mailing lists—may also pose ethical questions. Distribution Practices Ethical questions may also arise in the distribution process.
Because sales performance is the most common way in which marketing representatives and sales personnel are evaluated, performance pressures exist that may lead to ethical dilemmas. For example, pressuring vendors to buy more than they need and pushing items that will result in higher commissions are temptations. Exerting influence to cause vendors to reduce display space for competitors’ products, promising shipment when knowing delivery is not possible by the promised date, or paying vendors to carry a firm’s product rather than one of its competitors are also unethical.
Research is another area in which ethical issues may arise. Information gathered from research can be important to the successful marketing of products or services. Consumers, however, may view organizations’ efforts to gather data from them as invading their privacy. They are resistant to give out personal information that might cause them to become a marketing target or to receive product or sales information. When data about products or consumers are exaggerated to make a selling point, or research questions are written to obtain a specific result, consumers are misled.
Without self-imposed ethical standards in the research process, management will likely make decisions based on inaccurate information. Over focus on Materialism? Consumers develop an identity in the market place that is shaped both by who they are and by what they see themselves as becoming. There is evidence that the way consumers view themselves influences their purchasing behavior. This identity is often reflected in the brands or products they consume or the way in which they lead their lives. The proliferation of information about products and services complicates decision making.
Sometimes consumer desires to achieve or maintain a certain lifestyle or image results in their purchasing more than they need or can afford. Does marketing create these wants? Clearly, appeals exist that are designed to cause people to purchase more than they need or can afford. Unsolicited offers of credit cards with high limits or high interest rates, advertising appeals touting the psychological benefits of conspicuous consumption, and promotions that seek to stimulate unrealized needs are often cited as examples of these excesses. Special Ethical Issues in Marketing to Children
Children are an important marketing target for certain products. Because their knowledge about products, the media, and selling strategies is usually not as well developed as that of adults, children are likely to be more vulnerable to psychological appeals and strong images. Thus, ethical questions sometimes arise when they are exposed to questionable marketing tactics and messages. For example, studies linking relationships between tobacco and alcohol marketing with youth consumption resulted in increased public pressure directly leading to the regulation of marketing for those products.
The proliferation of direct marketing and use of the Internet to market to children also raises ethical issues. Sometimes a few marketers design sites so that children are able to bypass adult supervision or control; sometimes they present objectionable materials to underage consumers or pressure them to buy items or provide credit card numbers. When this happens, it is likely that social pressure and subsequent regulation will result. Ethical Issues Surrounding the Portrayal of Women in Marketing Efforts As society changes, so do the images of and roles assumed by people, regardless of race, sex, or occupation.
Women have been portrayed in a variety of ways over the years. When marketers present those images as overly conventional, formulaic, or oversimplified, people may view them as stereotypical and offensive. Examples of demeaning stereotypes include those in which women are presented as less intelligent, submissive to or obsessed with men, unable to assume leadership roles or make decisions, or skimpily dressed in order to appeal to the sexual interests of males. Harmful stereotypes include those portraying women as obsessed with their appearance or conforming to some ideal of size, weight, or beauty.
When images are considered demeaning or harmful, they will work to the detriment of the organization. Advertisements, in particular, should be evaluated to be sure that the images projected are not offensive. Conclusion Knowingly do no harm Because marketing decisions often require specialized knowledge, ethical issues are often more complicated than those faced in personal life— and effective decision making requires consistency. Because each business situation is different, and not all decisions are simple, many organizations have embraced ethical codes of conduct and rules of professional ethics to