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            Manuel G. Velasquez, also known as
“the father of academic business ethics,” is an ethics philosopher and an
author. One of his most notable works is the book Business Ethics: Concepts and Cases—the most used business ethics textbook
worldwide. Along with being a published author, Velasquez is also a Charles Dirksen Professor at Santa Clara University, teaching
courses in both the department of business and philosophy. In his book Business Ethics: Concepts and Cases,
Velasquez developed and discussed four precepts or moral standard to ethical
problems: utility, rights, justice and care. According to Velasquez, these four
precepts are important because they can be used as an outline when talking and thinking
about ethical dilemmas.

 

            The
first precept that was examined is the approach of utilitarianism. Velasquez
stated that, “Utilitarianism is a general term for any view that holds that
actions and practices should be evaluated on the basis of the aggregate social
benefits and the aggregate social costs associated with the actions or
practices” (46). Generally, the principle of utility considers all the possible
positive and negative effects that an action or policy will have on the population.

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Velasquez define the term “utility” as “the net benefits of any sort produced
by an action” (46). In this sense, it is important to only take into
consideration the action that will produce the greatest net benefits at the
least cost. To do this, Velasquez suggests looking at multiple different
examples and determines the positive and negative aspects of each example and
from there, select the example that produces the most utility (47). However, an
action that produces the most utility is not right or ethical if it only
benefits the person performing the action, but it needs to be beneficial to
everyone that is affected by the actions. An example could be the government
and its responsibility to enact legislations and policies that would produce
the most utility for all member of the society. 

 

            After
the approach of utilitarianism, Velasquez went on to discuss the principle of
rights. Rights can generally be used to describe a person’s entitlement or
possession to something.  According to
Velasquez, there are three types of rights: legal and moral rights (59). Legal
rights are permitted to an individual through a legal system, while moral
rights are innate entitlement that everyone possesses as human beings. Legal rights
are limited to each different society and government (Velasquez, 59). For
example, in the United States, the American Constitution ruled that it is a
constitutional and legal right for people of the same-sex to marry; however, in
Russia, it is seen as a crime. On the other hand, moral rights are independent
from any legal system and are not limited to any government or person. Moral
rights can be divided into three different categories: negative, positive, and
contractual (Velazquez, 62).  Firstly, a
negative moral rights requires others to not restrict or interfere with another
person’s actions. An example could be the freedom to worship any religion
without being criminalized by any predominant religious groups. Secondly,
positive rights allow people to demand for help and service from others. For
example, it is a human right for safety and freedom; therefore, many countries
open their door and allow war immigrants to seek asylum. Lastly, contractual
rights are special rights that require two parties to come to and uphold an
agreement. For example, a contractual right allows homeowners to be entitled to
the contractor’s performance and expertise.  

 

            Another
precept that was mentioned is the principle of justice. Velasquez explained
that, “Justice is based on individual moral rights. The moral rights to be
treated as a free and equal person, for example, is part of what lies behind
the idea that benefits and burdens should be distributed equally” (76).  Similar to moral rights, justice can also be
divided into three categories: distributive justice, retributive justice and
compensatory justice. Distributive justice is the first and basic category that
deals with the equal disbursement of benefits and burden. For example, if a man
gets paid a certain amount of salary for his position, then it is only fair to
pay a woman the same amount if she also has the same position as the man.

Retributive justice is the second category; this calls for a fair and just
punishment to those who committed a crime. For example, drivers with a good
driving history should not be punished the same as those who have a bad driving
history if they were to get into an accident. The last category is compensatory
justice, which promised individuals to be compensated for the injustice
inflicted on them. For example, after an accident, the victims would get a
payout by the perpetrator.

 

            The
forth and final precepts that was mentioned is the principle of care. This
principle focuses on human relationship with one another. Velasquez explains
that the principle of care “emphasized on preserving and nurturing concrete
valuable relationships” because “the self requires caring
relationships with other.” There are some objections to the principle of care,
as it is believed that caring too much can lead to favoritism and “burnout” in
a relationship. However, Velasquez argues that through the adequate
understanding of the principle of care, one will learn the importance of
self-care and conflicting moral demands. An example of the principle of care
would be an intern keeping in contact with the employer as a mentor for future
career endeavors.

 

            To
conclude, Manuel G. Velasquez is an ethics philosopher that developed and
talked about the four precepts or moral standards in his book, Business
Ethics: Concepts and Cases. Through understanding these four precepts, individuals can learn how
better themselves through their actions as well as the relationship to
the people around them. Not only that, but the four precepts also give people a
step-by-step guide when interacting and facing an ethical dilemma. 

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