2) What is the distinction between causal responsibility and moral responsibility?
What are, if any, the excusing conditions for moral responsibility? What role do
these excusing conditions play in terms of a) moral responsibility and b) moral
Moral responsibility is a situation where one is assigned a state of morally deserving reward, praise, blame or punishment. One who is expected to carry out moral responsibility is referred to as a moral agent (Moya 4). In a case where someone fails to act in a morally acceptable manner, people think that another cause of action what warranted. People may criticize an action in either blame or praise. For example, when someone comes across a car accident, it is praise worthy to do everything possible to help the people involved in the accident for instance pulling out a driver form the burning vehicle. However, if the driver loses his life, the savior is blamed for not calling for help that may have saved a life. To consider the savior as being worthy of either reaction is to attribute moral responsibility to him based on what he has done or failed to do. Therefore, moral responsibility assigns praise or blame with regard to actions taken, and how the action affects others.
Causal responsibility, on the other hand, detaches responsibility from blame or praise. In this regard, causal responsibility deals with happenings and not actions performed by individuals (Alznauer 52). Causal factors in essence are responsible for giving rise to effects in the basic sense of the word causal. In the case of locusts destroying a cornfield, the locusts would represent agents of causality. Locusts are living beings and their actions are driven toward certain goals as input in their biological programs for survival purposes. However, the locusts did not intend to starve the people relying on the corn, they only intentioned to feed themselves. In as much as they have caused damage, we do not ascribe moral responsibility in terms of blaming the causative agents. When such is applied to human beings, attributes of responsibility are assigned even if the action was not intentional (Alznauer 34). If a baby spills food, it is not intentional, yet the conclusion always remains that the child caused the food to spill.
Morality has to deal with what is considered right or wrong in the society. In this regard, the society has developed principles of morality that any member of a particular society has to subscribe. These principles are in terms of normative values of culture and laws as prescribed by sates. These principles are the bases through which society judges if someone is moral or immoral. In another sense, morality is what an individual’s conscience considers what is right or wrong. Therefore, “a person is considered moral if he habitually acts in accordance with his conscience” (Degeorge 25). However, these beliefs may be formed out of the principles and norms inherent in the society he or she is.
It is believed that moral responsibility is dependent on human ability to interpret the negative effects or positive effects of actions performed. The metaphysical libertarians believe that human actions are not at all times determined causally. According to this school, it is believed that free will is a crucial aspect of human responsibility. In other words, if all decisions made and actions performed are determined causally, then man has no free will. In this sense, this school conceives that moral responsibility expects that man maintain the ability to choose a course of action. The moment choice of committing actions is denied, excusing conditions of moral responsibility could be blamed. These include aspects such as coercion, manipulation among other factors.
Excusing conditions of moral responsibility affect the applications of responsibility and accountability of actions taken. The excusing conditions refer to when there is some form of wrongdoing even though such wrongdoing cannot be ascribed to the actor and therefore, they cannot be accountable. These conditions include the ‘ignorance excuse’ and the ‘lack of freedom excuse’. The ignorance defense against wrongdoing is the fact that the individual claims not to have known whatever they were doing was wrong. This defense excuses an individual from responsibility of actions where they cannot b held accountable. However, legal systems developed in the society today do not acquit criminal elements based on ignorance, arguing that ignorance is not a viable form of defense (Allman 29).
The lack of freedom excuse presents four conditions. These conditions include lack of alternatives, lack of control, external coercion, and internal coercion. When one lacks alternatives, they are left with no options other than the wrong one. This is closely related to lack of control. This is where one has no control over a situation. For example, in war, a soldier is expected to kill. The soldier has no control over the situation since they can be killed if they decide not. Coercion comes in two faces. For instance, coercion may use of force to ensure that one does something. When one is under duress, it is possible for them to do anything no matter how inconceivable. Internal coercion includes aspects such as illness, psychological compulsion, passion among other factors. Someone bed ridden is not expected to perform certain roles as expected, and because of this, failure that would have otherwise been attributed to him or her and held accountable is nullified. “Other abnormal psychological conditions that drive a person to do what he does (for example mental illness) diminish his responsibility” (De George 103). In such cases, on may be relieved of their moral responsibility, and in turn, they are not held morally accountable.
3) What are the Virtues of a Capitalist Free Market System? What is the Marxist
criticism of such a system as exemplified by the Capitalist system? Does it follow
then that if Marxism is correct that Capitalism is inherently flawed? How does
Capitalism provide a Moral defense of its system?
The capitalist system is considered efficient because it has helped to generate wealth and employment, which in turn has provided governments with tax revenues that enable the government to offer necessary public services such as education and health just to mention a few. This is the basis of capitalism. It provides the people a chance to enjoy the benefits of their labor depending on the nature of work one achieves. The aim of capitalism is the production of goods and services for the benefit of the people. There is the supposition that, in capitalism, everyone is working to satisfy his or her own needs. However, close analysis reveals that every work is beneficial to someone else. The division of labor has ensured that people can get what they could not by ensuring that enough is produced for everyone’s needs efficiently and affordably. Therefore, capitalism serves to promote social good (Austin and Rae 76).
Capitalism offers equal opportunities for everyone. No matter one’s background, capitalism ensures that everyone has the chance to succeed in life. The harder one works, the greater the returns in the future. The negative proponents of capitalism have proposed that free market system aims at serving human greed. The good thing about capitalism is that it promotes human nature and does not suppress ones needs. In capitalism, one satisfies individual needs by working hard and in cooperation with others. Capitalism, as much as it is about individual satisfaction, involves people offering each other the chance to satisfy their own needs, since every individual is different hence, their needs differ, however similar they may be. The basic principle of capitalism is freedom. Capitalism offers one the chance to live the way they want. In this sense, capitalism is the driver of democracy. Everyone is charged with the responsibility to select whomever he or she wants to lead.
Capitalism allows an economy to grow each time. Growth in economy ensures that citizens of a country live well without the suffering that can be attributed to poor economies. In as much as people would like to criticize the role of capitalism, it is an undeniable fact that democratic capitalism is the most effective politico-economic system in the world. A centralized government runs particularly high chances of fostering corruption and inefficient service delivery. Therefore, capitalist economies provide the happiest of circumstances for their citizens. Capitalism is the right choice for the world economies.
The Marxists criticism of capitalism is the suggestion that it is based on materialistic ideals that bring out the worst of human nature. The Marxist analysis of capitalism proposes that capitalism seeks to exploit the masses since “businesses seek to make profits” (Degeorge 45). The exploitation is because of unequal distribution of wealth, evident because of both unequal distribution of wealth, and in unequal distribution of wealth that is both in production and distribution of wealth. The assumptions about exploitation are that the central actors of are the economic classes and not individuals, firms and institutions or even countries. Another assumption is that private property is the creator of such classes and that the classes are not equal. The exploitation also arises from the fact that capitalism ensures the oppression of one class over the other. If one is wealthy, they have the ability to exploit the one who is not. The free market is not sustainable since it depends on growth. The continuous growth means that resources are continuously stretched by stripping the earth of all natural resources to sustain human greed. The Marxist simply suggests that the capitalist market will eventually fail.
The capitalist agenda was noble in the beginning, but its values have since deteriorated. The effects of capitalism today can be seen in the worst of the global recessions the world economy had ever experienced. The economic effects have brought about unrest in countries such as Greece because of exploitation of the capitalist system. It is difficult to ignore the role capitalism has played in the troubles of the 21st century. Marxist assumptions have clearly hypothesized the shortfalls of capitalism. However, this is not to say that the capitalist movement has failed. Capitalism has seen numerous successes in the past, and it continues to prosper. The drivers of capitalism have to return to the noble ideals capitalism was supposed to propagate.
Marxism has defined capitalism as a materialistic economy that is driven by consumerism. Capitalists believe that consumerism is necessary for the existence of free market. The entrepreneur does not come up with goods and force the consumer to per take of these goods. The businessperson identifies authentic needs of the consumer and offers these services. The production of these goods and services are the same ones that give people employment opportunities that will enable people to get what ever it is they need. The morality behind capitalism in this sense is that people will suffer if they cannot access services and goods needed that only capitalism can offer.
While competition is seen as a negative force of prosperity in capitalist economies, the morality behind competition is to allow everyone the chance to participate in the free economy. Competition helps the consumer exercise his or her freedom of choice. In essence, competition also makes it possible for the consumer to get quality products. This is because competitors strive to offer the best goods and services to ensure that they maintain a customer base. In the end, competition makes it possible for individuals to get cheap goods and services. While fairness is required in business, “in a competitive situation no firm has any obligation to help a competing firm” (Degeorge 196)
4) What is the difference between a stockholder and a stakeholder at the level of a
corporation? Please describe any and all possible levels of moral responsibility
within the corporation. What does this say about the corporation, that is, at what
level is the corporation to be held responsible for its actions: as a moral entity,
only in terms of its policy makers, or in terms of any or all of its employees?
A stakeholder is any person who has interests or is affected or influenced by a corporation. The stockholder also referred to as the shareholder is an owner of shares or stock in a corporation. Stakeholders in a company include the owners of the company, employees and their families, customers, the suppliers, the community and other relevant entities. Therefore, the stakeholders also include the shareholder of a corporation. The corporation has a responsibility to each of the stakeholders involved in making sure that they meet all the obligations expected of them by the relevant stakeholders.
The moral responsibility of a corporation can be divided into two categories. These are the moral obligation and moral duty. Corporate responsibilities are geared toward making sure that all the stakeholders are fully satisfied with the operations of the corporation. “Management is responsible for setting the moral tone of the firm” (Degeorge 195). In this regard, management has the responsibility of defining the moral obligations and duties a firm has to adhere. The moral obligations include legal obligations, social obligations, and the corporate obligations. The moral duty of management is to ensure that the corporation meets all the moral obligations as have been assigned by management.
The first thing that a corporation has to do is ensure that it does “no harm” (Degeorge 192). This moral minimum acts as a guide for the corporation to make sure that the moral obligations are met in an ethical manner. The legal obligation of a corporation is to make sure that it is operating within the legal requirements of the laws provided. This means that the products being offered have to be approved by the relevant authority. It is also vital that the corporation ensure that its employees have the legal basis to work in the country. Management does a disservice to the stakeholders by operating outside legal authority.
Corporate obligations lie with the company’s ability to create an enabling environment for the employee to work effectively and at a maximum production capacity. This can be done by ensuring that employees are well trained. This will enable the firm to escape liabilities arising from employee negligence in following procedure. Corporate obligation in essence ensures that the company is running as expected. The social obligation is the ability for the corporation to relate its activities to the community in a responsible way that is considered ethical by the society. This means that the activities of the corporation must not be harmful to the community within which it operates. This means that the corporation must strive to ensure that it protects the environment in every way possible by properly disposing of waste and other harmful material. By doing this, the corporation aims at maintaining a strong relationship between them and the community. The most important goal of the organization in fulfilling this obligation is to act to benefit the whole society and not just for profitability (Kotler and Lee 17).
As a moral entity, the corporation is held responsible at the social level. This is because all the activities carried out in this stage affect the society in one way or the other. The decision to give a society the attribute of being a moral organization is pegged on the opinions the society has on the corporation. However, this decision is also dependent on what the company does to ensure that its operations are within the ethical bounds prescribed by the society. This means that when the corporation steals funding, or unlawfully lay off workers, then it means that they are working outside the moral expectations of society.
As a moral entity, the corporation is held responsible for its actions if it breaks the laws within which it is allowed to operate. This includes embezzling of funds, engaging in unethical practices such as bribing government officials among other activities. All these actions go against the legal and moral principles of a society. The corporation in this account is held responsible for its actions. However, the corporation’s actions are performed by people, yet these actions are assigned to the corporation. The morality of an organization is subject to individuals who work within those corporations. The actions of employees may at times be the will of the corporation. In this case, the corporation should be held accountable for the actions of the employees. In different circumstances, the employee may be acting against the firm’s wishes with out the explicit knowledge of the firm. The actions against the firm are considered individual actions. In this instance, the employee is held accountable without the involvement of the firm. Here, the business is “not a moral agent[s], [and] have no moral responsibilities, and should not be morally evaluated” (Degeorge 109).
Allman, Paula. Critical Education against Global Capitalism: Karl Marx and Revolutionary Critical Education. Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey, 2001. Print.
Alznauer, Mark. Hegel’s Defense of Moral Responsibility, 2008. Print.
De, George R. T. Business Ethics. Boston: Prentice Hall, 2010. Print.
Hill, Austin, and Scott B. Rae. The Virtues of Capitalism: A Moral Case for Free Markets. Chicago, IL: Northfield Pub, 2010. Print.
Kotler, Philip, and Nancy Lee. Corporate Social Responsibility: Doing the Most Good for Your Company and Your Cause. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley, 2005. Print.
Moya, Carlos. Moral Responsibility: The Ways of Scepticism. London: Routledge, 2006. Print.
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