Kantian Approach to Business Ethics
The Kantian theory is said to be the most remarkable of all deontological theories primarily in its premise that actions are not justified by their consequences (Prakashan 55). The argument that was raised by Kant was for an act to be considered morally acceptable it should be propelled by duty and not by motive. The Kantian Theory is strong on the duties that are considered categorical which when translated to the principle of ethics is referred to as categorical imperative. Norman Bowie expounded on this as follows:
The fundamental principle of ethics, the categorical imperative, is a requirement of reason and is binding on all rational beings. These are the essentials of Kant’s ethics. (4)
When applied to business, the categorical imperative theorized by Kant as: “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that is should become a universal law”, poses concerns and contradictions. When put into the business perspective any action has a maxim which will then become a universal law. Since motives are not considered in telling whether such action is morally acceptable or not the application of the Kantian theory in business night later on results to problems. Also read utilitarianism and business ethics essay
An example of this is an employee who resorted to stealing as a way of getting even to his or her supervisor who has unjustly treated him or her. If one is to apply the Kantian theory on this situation – stealing as the maxim and the reason for doing is justifiable – the supervisor must be taught of a lesson, then stealing can become the universal law of getting even to supervisors. This is where it gets hard, without the balance of motives; a manager who is applying the Kantian theory will then have a hard time justifying whether the act is morally acceptable or not.
Prakashnan, Nirali. Business Ethics. Mumbai: Pragali Books Pvt., 2007.