Sample Theology Essay Paper on Making Biblically-Based Ethical Decisions

Introduction

Ethics majorly examines various aspects of individual and group conducts based on the predetermined standards, principles, values and norms governing actions and behaviors. In the corporate world, ethics plays a significant role in instituting responsible, sustainable and fair processes that can help an organization to establish a strong brand name and market reputation. Business ethics also refers to different aspects of appropriate conduct that defines the actions of individuals and groups in a particular organization. Specifically, according to Crane & Matten (2016), business ethics explores diverse ethical ideologies and moral or ethical issues that are common in corporate environments. In every viable business setting, ethics is used to explain the embedded philosophical stands, fundamental aims and purposes and implicit social corporate and fiduciary responsibilities.

Similarly, according to De George (2011), ethics is used to define moral values that pertain to right and wrong and the perceived implications associated with unethical conducts among the personnel. Undeniably, in the complex contemporary business settings, organizations are faced with myriad ethical issues that may require professional actions and attention. Every business is responsible for developing various codes of conduct and ethics that can act as the blueprint in guiding the action of every member of the organization. Some of the fundamental ethical issues that are common in the 21st-century business settings include ethical decision making, workplace diversity, and integrity among other important issues. For instance, according to Ferrell & Fraedrich (2015), business integrity is one of the most essential ethical issues given that it can significantly influence commitment and honesty among the employees.

The promotion of workplace diversity is also another basic ethical issue that stresses the importance of equal opportunities and treatments irrespective of the socio-economic or cultural origins. Likewise, according to Rossouw et al. (2010), another important ethical issue is the frequent ethical dilemmas that occur during decision-making processes. Organizations are responsible for ensuring that business operations are conducted in a fair and just manner while protecting the fundamental rights of employees and consumers. Most importantly, business ethics can help an organization to establish and sustain a strong moral compass that can be used to guide and dictate the conduct and behaviors of individual employees.

Explain frameworks for analyzing ethical issues in business

Undoubtedly, ethics plays an integral role in the management of current businesses (Weiss, 2014). Remarkably, every business is expected to make decisions based on the set rules and norms, inform employees of the projected consequences and effectively communicate related actions. Similarly, Ferrell & Fraedrich (2015) point out the importance of being thoughtful and responsible when making important ethical decisions in organizations. Therefore, every stakeholder in a business should be introduced to various ethical thoughts and perspectives that can be used to establish how individuals view ethics and best approaches that can help in determining how such standards of behavior can categorized as ethical.  According to Hoffman, Frederick, & Schwartz (2014), the subsequent perspectives seek to determine those ethical behaviors that are important in organizational setups.

Virtue perspective of ethics

According to Bowie (2017), virtue approach to ethical issues argues that ethical actions should be based on the modeled human virtues rather than on the discrete actions of individuals. Precisely, virtue ethics is purely based on the entirety of an individual’s life and puts more emphasis on the significance of model behaviors and increased understanding of different ethical deliberations and standards. Virtue perspective is a very traditional approach to the understanding of ethics that states that ethical actions and decisions should depend on the ideal virtues that can contribute to the holistic development of an individual. Gray & Webb (2010) defines such virtues as the dispositions and habits that dictate that individuals should act based on their best code of conduct that stresses on truth and integrity among other desirable traits. Some other virtues include the innate ability of every employee to remain tolerant, generous, fair, self-conscious, prudent and compassionate especially when relating with the employees and customers. According to Bright, Winn & Kanov (2014)), virtue perspective of ethics interrogates individual actions to ensure that they are consistent with the set codes of conducts and value systems.

Duty perspective of ethics

This deontological approach to ethics was developed by Immanuel Kant who stressed the significance of personal will and individual intentions. Kant also emphasized the role of the omnipotent God who was capable of seeing all the interior motives and actions of individuals, especially when making ethical decisions. According to Kant, the decision to do right or wrong should not be out of fear of the possible consequences but rather on the relevant intention and will to perform what right. Bright, Winn & Kanov (2014) supported Kant arguments by asserting that every individual has a duty to act ethically and that actions should be based on the implicit obligation to be responsible. Kant also stressed the importance of rational thinking and behavior based on universal rules and values systems.

Duty perspective of ethics applies Kant’s idea of categorical imperative that pointed at the “Golden Rule in its positive form” and that individuals should treat others exactly the same way they would wish to be treated. Gray & Webb (2010) supports that individuals should act only in accordance with that maxim that they too would desire to be set as universal codes of conduct and law. For instance, being dishonest when conducting organizational issues can be considered a universal maxim as it will render most of the organizational processes extraneous. As such, a universalized maxim that promotes honesty is a duty-based approach that can eliminate logical contradictions.

In general, duty-based perspective towards ethics emphasizes on the significance of acting according to rational laws based on the individual universal perception of situations. Thus, individuals should act in a self-regulating fashion, and that we are all bound by a duty to freely act rationally based on certain moral laws. According to Bowie (2017), an individual’s decision to obey the universal maxim and laws is the very essence of universally acceptable ethical actions.

The consequential perspective of ethics

According to Griseri & Seppala (2010), the consequential perspective of ethics majorly focuses on the perceived future effects of individual actions. In particular, consequential reasoning entails diverse procedures towards actions that can be considered just or morally right. This approach to understanding ethics stresses on the significance of identifying actions under review, ascertaining how such actions will affect people and determining the benefits and harms associated with such actions. Thus, this perspective asserts that every person should strive to produce the best out of every situation. Thorne, Ferrell & Ferrell (2011) further explains that consequential perspective of ethics focuses on the outcome of a specific action based on a relatively pragmatic approach. However, proponents of this approach to ethics warn that predicting accurate consequences may sometimes be challenging. Thus, any judgment about the rightness or wrongness of an individual’s conduct should be guided by the comprehensive understanding and definition of moral goods. Specifically, the morality of an individual’s action is dependent on the perceived outcome or purported consequences. Correspondingly, according to Hartman, DesJardins & MacDonald (2014), the consequential perspective of ethics is based on whether an action is considered right or wrong, and on whether the projected good outcomes of an action can result in better behaviors. The approach enables individuals in organizational setups to carefully choose such actions that are likely to maximize good outcomes of a particular action.

The Christian perspective of ethics

Christian ethics gives a clear definition of virtuous and wrong behaviors based on varied rational perspectives and distinguished characters of God (Niebuhr, 2012, p. 3). The primary aim of Christian ethics is to identify such actions that conform to God’s definition of good, evil, right and wrong. Ellul (2012) explains the uniqueness of Christian ethics by arguing that individual actions should be based on the moral order that is universally acceptable. Exclusively, Christian perspective points at a common moral heritage and absolutes that are defined by the deity. The approach further gives a universal ethical sense that every mankind should stick to, and define a yardstick that can be used to measure various actions against predetermined sets of conduct (Niebuhr, 2012, p. 16).

Furthermore, Christian perspectives towards the study of ethics point at a common moral standard and attitude founded on the assumption that there is an absolute moral order existing outside of, and inscribed inside every individual. The approach is purely based on God’s innate character of holiness and emphasis on moral uprightness and absolutely shunning evil (Rudd, 2006, p. 2). Therefore, every person should desire to please God and avoid sin by acting according to His prescribed moral order (Ellul, 2012). Christians who appreciate the truth behind God’s laws should aim at absolute obedience towards God’s laws and exclusive allegiance towards His teachings on morality. The Christian Bible discloses specific attributes and God’s moral order that every individual that subscribes to the faith should rely on among other clear explanations of moral order.

Guiding principles Christians should follow to make ethical decisions

Ethical decisions from biblical perspectives are majorly derived from personal virtues and God’s nature of holiness and purity. Christian moral thinking is based on God’s conduct on the rules that stipulate what is considered right or wrong, the embedded consequences of individual actions and the kind of moral character a Christian is expected to adopt (Niebuhr, 2012, p. 8). These biblical ethical principles should guide Christians when making important decisions on various issues affecting them. Ellul (2012) explains some of the principles based on God’s greatest commandment of love for God and others as stipulated in Mathew chapter 22 from verses 37 to 40 (Nelson, 2016). Explicitly, the each and every serious Christian should act based on the very tenets of love which are also described in 1st Corinthians chapter 13 from verses 4 to 8. Some of these guiding principles Christians should follow are subsequently stipulated.

Virtue Principle of God’s sovereignty

The concept stresses the development of sound character that dictates ethical actions and value of an individual. The sovereign nature of God is clearly described in Exodus chapter 20 versus 3 that avows that no other God shall be worshiped apart from Him (Ellul, 2012). This principle stresses on the supreme nature of God and emphasize that God should always come first in everything. As such, based on God’s defining principles of behavior, Christians should portray acceptable virtues that are concerned with the superiority of human character.

The principle of ethical reasoning

Under this principle, Christians are encouraged to establish the ethical value of individual actions that be used to establish and maintain desirable results. Many Christians believe in the existence of an eternal law derived from God that reveals implied truths on an acceptable form of behaviors (Niebuhr, 2012, p. 17). The principle is based on the golden rule of behavior described in Mathew chapter 7 versus 12 that stresses on the individual responsibility to do what is right.

Principle of utilitarianism

According to Mill (2016), the utilitarian principle of ethics emphasizes on the magnitude of basing individual behaviors on the projected outcomes or consequences. Specifically, the principle directs that individuals should act with the sole intention of bringing utmost happiness to the general population. The principle can be used to design a distinctive decision-making procedure that maximizes on the good while suppressing the bad.   

The relevance of the guiding principles in ethical decision-making

Based on the virtue principle of the sovereign nature of God, Christians are called upon to recognize Him alone can arbitrate what is right and wrong. Therefore, when making ethical decisions, reference should be made to the Bible to ascertain whether the actions under consideration conform to God’s teaching and doctrines. In addition, in ethical decision-making processes, more emphasis should be placed on honesty, generosity, tolerance, and self-control to ensure general contentment and fulfillment (Niebuhr, 2012, p. 39). Likewise, based on the principle of ethical reasoning, Christians are encouraged to follow proper procedures during decision-making processes. Christians should also strictly adhere to the moral standards that determine the ethical value of an action that is generally acceptable. Thus, ethical reasoning during decision-making processes must be based on principles of distributive justice and liberty (Woiceshyn, 2011, p. 8).

Based on the utilitarian principle, individual intentions should not be considered during decision-making processes. The principle further advocates that the best course of action should be that which can bring the highest amount of good as opposed to bad. Moreover, 2nd Corinthians chapter 8 verses 21 and Ephesians chapter 4 versus 25 clearly describes the guiding tenets underlying this principle (Nelson, 2016). Honesty, truth, the duty of care, honoring promises and rewarding good behaviors are some of these universally applicable rules that can be used during decision-making processes (Ellul, 2012).

Conflict resolution based on ethics theory

Conflicts in any feasible organizational setup are inevitable, and only relevant strategies can be applied to attain harmony for all parties concerned. According to Hinman (2012), ethics theory puts more emphasis on maintaining truth and morality during conflict resolution processes. Therefore, based on ethical theory, the following frameworks can be used to determine ethical problems and related issues.

Gathering relevant facts and specifying the problem to be solved: Ethics dictates that pertinent facts about the identified problem are laid bare to eliminate all assumptions and establish how such problems can ultimately be resolved (Bowie, 2017).

Identification of the concerned parties and ethical issued involved: Ethics theory further point at the significance of accurately identifying concerned parties affected by the conflict and extent of the impact on other key issues. Various ethical issues in the conflict should also be identified and a determination of how such issues affect the interests of concerned parties (Griseri & Seppala, 2010).

Establish fundamental ethical principles underlying the conflict: There should be an accurate identification of fundamental principle of ethics such as integrity, objectivity, due care and self-interest among other professional standards (Hinman, 2012).

Evaluation of the alternative solutions: Such evaluations should be based on the organization’s policies, procedures, and guidelines among other applicable conventions and rules (Crane & Matten, 2016). The alternative solutions should also be based on the universal values and principles that are generally applicable and the perceived consequences.

Implementation of the proposed solutions: The proposed solutions are then implemented by the organization to ensure general fulfillment among the concerned parties to the conflict (De George, 2011). The justification of the projected solutions will depend on whether the decision was taken results in the effective resolution of the conflict in question.                   

The biblical explanation of the concept of “lesser of two evils

According to biblical perspectives, evil is a term used to describe such actions or thoughts that contradict the will of God and the golden rule of behavior. Peterson (2018) also agrees that evil is acceptance of sin and the inherent will to commit sinful things. Thus, evil is synonymous to sin as it is a general violation of God’s laws that are precisely described in the Bible. The concept of “lesser of two evils” is used to describe a notion that when faced with two options that are immoral from an ethical perspective, then the one which is least immoral should be considered (Groenendyk, 2012, p. 1). Notably, participating in things that the bible consider evil is not an option as it a gross violation of God’s commandments that are postulated in Exodus chapter 20 (Nelson, 2016). Unfortunately, most Christians find it increasingly hard to discern evil and live according to God’s teachings.  The concepts of “lesser of two evils” in the bible are clearly explained by Paul in Romans chapter 3 from verses 7 to 9 (Nelson, 2016). Paul encourages Christians not to justify evil by assuming that some good will come from such actions. Therefore, God commands Christians to shun all form of evil and strive to lie based on biblical doctrines and principles of holiness as stipulated in Hebrews chapter 12 versus 14.

Examples of major themes of the Bible and application to ethics in business

The theme of self-confidence

This theme is overtly described in Philippians chapter 4 versus 13 that states that (Nelson, 2016). The theme of self-confidence is important in businesses especially during harsh economic downturns that require one to stretch beyond the normal.

The theme of perseverance       

The theme is propagated in 1st Corinthians chapter 9 versus 24 (Nelson, 2016). The theme is applicable in businesses as it encourages business owners to persevere even in the face of adversities. The theme further encourages entrepreneurs to consistently stick to the set values and business norms without digressing and hope that they will ultimately succeed in their endeavors.

Conclusion

Undoubtedly, ethics is progressively becoming an extremely important concept in the modern business environments. As such, organizations are starting to adopt inclusive ethical frameworks to aid in decision-making processes. In the processes of implementing new techniques and resolving conflicts, diverse biblical perspectives can also be taken into consideration to ensure general compliance to set rules and value systems.

 

 

References

Bowie, N. E. (2017). Business ethics: A Kantian perspective. Cambridge University Press.

Bright, D. S., Winn, B. A., & Kanov, J. (2014). Reconsidering virtue: Differences of perspective in virtue ethics and the positive social sciences. Journal of Business Ethics, 119(4), 445-460.

Crane, A., & Matten, D. (2016). Business ethics: Managing corporate citizenship and sustainability in the age of globalization. Oxford University Press.

De George, R. T. (2011). Business ethics. Pearson Education India.

Ellul, J. (2012). Violence: Reflections from a Christian perspective. Wipf and Stock Publishers.

Ferrell, O. C., & Fraedrich, J. (2015). Business ethics: Ethical decision making & cases. Nelson Education.

Gray, M., & Webb, S. A. (Eds.). (2010). Ethics and value perspectives in social work. Palgrave Macmillan.

Griseri, P., & Seppala, N. (2010). Business ethics and corporate social responsibility. Cengage Learning.

Groenendyk, E. (2012). Justifying party identification: A case of identifying with the “lesser of two evils”. Political Behavior, 34(3), 453-475.

Hart, H. L. A. (2017). Positivism and the Separation of Law and Morals. In Law and Morality (pp. 63-99). Routledge.

Hartman, L. P., DesJardins, J. R., & MacDonald, C. (2014). Business ethics: Decision making for personal integrity and social responsibility. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Hinman, L. (2012). Ethics: A pluralistic approach to moral theory. Nelson Education.

Hoffman, W. M., Frederick, R. E., & Schwartz, M. S. (Eds.). (2014). Business ethics: Readings and cases in corporate morality. John Wiley & Sons.

Mill, J. S. (2016). Utilitarianism. In Seven Masterpieces of Philosophy (pp. 337-383). Routledge.

Nelson, T. (2016). HOLY BIBLE. THOMAS NELSON PUB.

Niebuhr, R. (2012). An interpretation of Christian ethics. Westminster John Knox Press.

Peterson, M. L. (2018). God and Evil: an introduction to the issues. Routledge.