Moral Reasoning Exercise
This is a close reading exercise. The aim of the exercise is to get you to analyze in detail the specific arguments presented in the selected reading in order to better understand one of the central debates in business ethics.
PHIL 201 Business and Professional Ethics
Read the Guidelines for Writing Philosophy Essays and the Academic Honesty
Policy, both of which can be found under ‘Assessment’ on the iLearn homepage.
Please contact the unit convenor if you have questions about how to approach the
This is a close reading exercise. The aim of the exercise is to get you to analyze in
detail the specific arguments presented in the selected reading in order to better
understand one of the central debates in business ethics.
Make sure you answer every part of each question. This is a short answer assignment.
You do not need to answer the questions in the form of an essay. Please include a
bibliography with the relevant sources from the question and any additional sources
you reference directly.
Read the following article (on e-Reserve) and answer ALL the questions below:
K. E. Goodpaster, ‘Business Ethics and Stakeholder Analysis’, Business
Ethics Quarterly, Vol. 1, No. 1. (Jan., 1991), pp. 53-73.
1. Goodpaster argues that stakeholder analysis is morally neutral and does not
by itself introduce ethical considerations into business decision--making. Explain
in your own words the distinction Goodpaster makes between stakeholder
analysis and stakeholder synthesis. Why does he think that engaging in
stakeholder analysis is not sufficient to introduce ethical thinking into business
decisions? (Stakeholder Analysis and Stakeholder Synthesis pp. 55--57)
2. What does Goodpaster mean by ‘strategic stakeholder synthesis’? Why does he
think that businesses that operate according to the principles of strategic
stakeholder synthesis do not really introduce ethical values into business
(See Strategic Stakeholder Synthesis pp.57--59 and Is the Substance Ethical pp.
3. Goodpaster argues that we need an approach to business ethics that avoids
business without ethics (strategic stakeholder synthesis) and ethics without
business (a multi--fiduciary stakeholder approach). Explain Goodpaster’s
nonfiduciary approach to business obligations, making sure you distinguish it
from both the multi--fiduciary stakeholder approach and the strategic
4. Listen to the following radio program or read the transcript: ‘Casualties
in the Supermarket Wars’:
a) Goodpaster argues that businesses have significant nonfiduciary duties to
stakeholders other than shareholders. These include the duties not to harm or
coerce, lie, cheat or steal (p.67). Do you believe, based on the accounts given in
the radio program, that the major supermarket chains in Australia violate any of
these fundamental moral duties? What moral duties, if any, do you believe the
large supermarkets owe to their suppliers? Use examples from the program to
illustrate your points.
b) Coles and Woolworths have recently agreed to a new voluntary code of
conduct relating to commercial relations with suppliers. Would signing up to and
abiding by such a code be required from the perspective of Goodpaster’s
nonfiduciary approach to business ethics? Why/Why not?
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