134.220 Business and Professional Ethics

Our Business and Professional Ethics course introduces students to the practice of normative ethical reasoning, with a special focus on a business-professional context.

Besides familiarising ourselves with various moral theories, we consider a wide spectrum of issues and questions, like:

  • What’s ethically objectionable about sweatshops, deceptive sales practices, and cost-benefit analysis?
  • What can indigenous ethics teach us about good (and bad) business, and how does the notion of tragedy come into it?
  • When is whistle-blowing morally permissible or obligatory, and when not?
  • What are the links between the wrong-doing of an organisation and the individual responsibility of a business professional who works for or at it?

Practical cases of questionable business/professional ethics that we’ve been discussing in class include the following:

  • The downfall of Enron,
  • the Pinto disaster at Ford Motors,
  • the collapse of Theranos, and
  • the professional practice of nursing embracing the killing of disabled people in Nazi Germany

We usually offer this course during summer school, which makes taking the paper feasible for our students no matter where they’re located during summer. Much of the content is delivered in the form of short video lectures, like this one on the notion of what makes humans so special (randomly selected from the many dozens of clips we used in summer 2021-22):

But as good philosophy thrives on an exchange of ideas that goes both ways, we also run weekly Zoom meetings that everyone is greatly encouraged to join. That way, students can discuss their thoughts and questions live in an online video conference setting — with each other and our tutor.

If business ethics is a water that you’d like to dip your toes in with us, consider joining 134.220 in the future.

We’d love to see you in our course ツ

To look at a previous semester’s course outline and student guide for this paper, please CLICK HERE.

To see the course offerings for this paper on Massey University’s website, please CLICK HERE.