Table of Contents
- Q1. Categorical Imperative
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- The Principle of the Kingdom of Ends
- Q2. Causal vs. Moral Responsibility
- Excusing Conditions
- Excusable Ignorance of Consequences
- External Constraints
- Internal Compulsion
- Q3. Stakeholder in a Corporation
- Related Free Ethics Essays
Q1. Categorical Imperative
According to Kant, there are two forms of imperatives: a hypothetical imperative and a categorical imperative. The hypothetical imperative is deemed as a form of imperative that leads to some defined purpose. It implies that one must desire the means to attain the defined purpose; however, this remains hypothetical considering only when willing the purpose must mean to attain the desired purposes. Abandoning the purpose will automatically get rid of the means. On the other hand, the categorical imperative is deemed to be independent of any purposes. This theory does not require an action for the sake of purposes, but rather for its own sake. Therefore, the categorical imperative demands that it is the law that applies always but not just the law when one decide to attain some purposes.
According to Kant, there are three distinct formulations of the categorical imperative. They are such as: a principle of Universalizability or Universal Law; the principle of Humanity (Dignity of Persons); and the principle of the Kingdom of Ends.
Kant has stated the principle of universalizability as, “An act only on the maxim which one can concurrently wish that it would become a universal principle.” The universal law is supposed to be deemed as a natural universal law. It implies that a human being can decide whether or not a certain activity is morally acceptable while putting into consideration the environment where humanity always acts on the maxim as a given action demands. This makes the maxim as a natural universal law. If a person can dependably wish the maxim to become the universal law of nature, then his action is permissible. Otherwise, it is morally wrong. According to Kant, the universalizability should be the rule from which the imperatives of duties may be derived.
To decide whether an act is morally permissible, one should consider a scenario where the maxims of act have been as the universal law. The maxim that fails the universalizability test is believed to violate a categorical imperative duty.
Putting into consideration the likelihood of universalizing maxims for the person’s behaviours, the dignity (morality and immorality) of any action will be manifested in all scenarios. In addition, there are two forms of paradox that one must look out for in the principle of universalizability. There these paradoxes are found as an indication that the action lacks morality. In the first case, if the maxim cannot be categorized as a universal law, it implies there is a paradox in the conception. In the second case, paradox occurs in the event the maxim and can be seen to be the universal law. Yet it may not be willed to be a universal law deemed as the purpose of will. The universalizability criterion may be used in determining whether a duty is perfect or imperfect.
Principle of Humanity (Dignity of Persons)
The second formulation of the categorical imperative is formulated as follows, “An act in such a way that you treat humanity as this in your own person or in another person, and always as an end but not as a means.” This statement means that a person must be sensitive to other people’s freedom of pursuing their objectives without any distraction. They should be treated as a rational being that are capable of making decisions independently. Considering that all rational beings exist as the end self, and not as a means to be used by any will. According to Kant, the ethical duties that people engage into are a result of obligation to boost their capability to autonomously decide on the condition of the value of all ends (purposes). To treat others as the ends in themselves, it implies that an individual should ensure that other people retain their dignity. This includes ensuring that they have the freedom to make decisions independently.
The Principle of the Kingdom of Ends
This is the third formulation of the categorical imperative, i.e. the principle that requires individuals to honour their own selves as legislators in the kingdom of ends. That is made possible through the freedom of their will. This implies that the person looks at morality from a legislator’s perspective and enacts laws that are supposed to govern the kingdom where the legislator is a member. The lawmaker is bound to obey laws. Any undertaking that tends to violate the enacted laws is deemed to be morally impermissible. It is significantly important to note that the laws are supposed to govern the kingdom, as a territory with specific features.
The kingdom of ends is practically impossible. Thus, it does not exist in the real world, rather it exists in thoughts. This kingdom may be seen as an ideal territory where every member is supposed to respect the autonomy and independence of choice of all members. This creates the reciprocally and harmoniously supportive ends. Consequently, the lawmaker in the kingdom would enact laws that are autonomous to the subjects of kingdom, which are supposed to mutually extend the ends of the rational society in a single and cohesive teleological structure.
The principle of the kingdom of ends can be applied as a measure in the process of decision making. To determine whether an action is morally acceptable, the underlying maxim should be consistent with the legislation established in the kingdom where autonomy is being protected and revered.
Therefore, from the exposition of three principles out of the categorical imperative, it can be expounded that telling lies is morally wrong. The principle of universalizability would illegalize lying. It means that the maxim of being untruthful would not be universalized, while the principle of humanity states that it does not take others as ends. Thus, this is contrary to their humanity as being inconsistent with the legislations of the kingdom of ends
Q2. Causal vs. Moral Responsibility
It does not matter on a position or perspective of an individual in the society, as everyone has the responsibility to their own integrity. This is notwithstanding of other people who may be aware of integrity of an individual. In most cases, it would not be easy to recognize an excuse until the one has been made. There are two commonly accepted excusing conditions that accommodate to the reduction of responsibility.
The first condition involves ignorance about a fact; and the second one is based on the inability to find an alternative. There are various explanations on these excusing conditions. One of the explanations is related to the causal responsibility, which makes two following claims. The first claim is that law would make a presumption that the person’s actions are a result of forces being beyond their control; while the second claim states that law should adhere to the moral responsibility that a person should not be blamed for the actions that may have been caused by the force beyond the control.
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According to the causal responsibility, these two claims offer the explanation to a host of excuses. It includes the involuntary act, the duress defence and the irresistible impulse defence. The law provides an explanation for these defences. According to the causal responsibility, the law states that the excused action has been caused by some forces being beyond the control of an actor. It further presumes that such an action may not be blameworthy.
There are various widely accepted excuses being commonly perceived as valid while evaluating moral accountability.
Excusable Ignorance of Consequences
According to this condition, people will easily forgive in such instances where the results of an act could not be rationally forecast. However, this does not provide excuses for distinguishing the right form the wrong. Jurisprudence and traditional morality typically excuse people for their ignorance of fact. Both the established law and traditional morality tend to acknowledge excuses grounded on the ignorance of a cardinal principle. The only thing that is not accepted is that it is commonly difficult to foresee the result of present actions. For instance, utilitarianism directs that results should be predicted. However, it does not maintain that they may be predicted exhaustively. Lastly, there is a reasonable expectation that one would have foreseen a particular use of a product, though the results would always be negative.
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The ignorance condition is that a person does not expect others to imagine all possible results of the daily actions. There is no person who would attain any achievement out of just worrying. However, people are not expected to make some reasonable speculations, more especially if they are aware of their actions and the impact they would have on other people’s lives.
In this context, a constraint refers to some physical imperatives, uncontrollable conditions, and the lack of alternatives. For instance, in case where a person is coerced into undertaking some action that he would not do in normal circumstances, we usually fail to blame him for such actions. In a supermarket, if a cashier is robbed at a gunpoint, there are responsible of the cash in their till. However, they are not accountable for such a loss. This implies to a physical constraint. The same applies in a scenario where an individual is limited with the lack of alternatives.
The uncontrollable situations, which are commonly known as ‘the circumstance that are beyond the personal control’, are the third area that constitutes the constraint as an excuse. For instance, if a person fails to attend an official meeting due to a delayed flight, others may excuse him, though they may be put-off by that delay.
However, the causal responsibility holds individuals blameless only if their actions have been beyond their control. However, if the person does not make it for a meeting because they have been involved in a critical accident, one may be held blameless. But, if the person has been the cause of such an accident, they are to blame him for a late arrival at the meeting.
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The law upholds, and it is agreeable, that some actions are a result of inner compulsion. It comprises an excusing condition, except that this constraint may not be caused by external forces. The universal law recognizes as reasonable such excuses as a compulsion to steal (kleptomania), a compulsion to set fire (pyromania), and some forms of addiction. Though this group of excuses may not totally satisfy, they are usually accepted as valid.
All forms of excuses are the defences against having to assume responsibility for the action done or being blamed unjustly for this responsibility. The former excuses may be classified as bad excuses, while the latter ones may be said to be good. Ultimately, excuses are deemed to be the reasons based on a coherent ability of people in the position to make a decision at the level of accountability. All forms of excuses, good or bad, mitigate harm. However, they never erase the impacts of such harm.
Q3. Stakeholder in a Corporation
The nature of existence for the corporation is fundamentally an economical one. In the economic environment with limited resources, where the laws of capitalists and the property rights’ ways of production are the foundation of corporate activities, it may not be otherwise. This brings the multifaceted perspectives into the corporate decision-making, which may be as an improvement on the prejudiced shareholder perspective. However, it still is a representation of a partial and prejudiced stakeholder’s perspective, which has two challenging issues- the status of the corporation and the nature of “being” in the corporation.
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Shareholders are not irrevocably or essentially economic players. The actual nature of existence of the corporation is contestable. Whether the raison d’etre of the corporation implies a non-existence of the shareholder’s perspective, or an inclusive perspective, the economic purpose of corporation has remained as a fundamental concern. There is no relationship that exists between the corporation and the shareholder, other than the relationship of instrumentality. More practical, if the corporation will be placed as a subject, rather that shareholders, then shareholder members of the society will cease to be the subjects and be regarded as objects. Thus, the individual shareholder becomes the means to the ends through objectification of subjects. According to Marx, this may be designated as the commodification of human. The nature of corporate existence is, therefore, a singular one that does not have any justification beyond the economic one.
The second level of internal tension of a stakeholder in the perspective is related to placing the corporation at the core of the discussion on the application of nature. The stakeholders’ groups in the corporation are identified as shareholders; customers; suppliers; employees; the civil society; future societies; local constituencies; and the government society. The ordering of these groups in the corporation should be intentional, in that their perspectives and interests are easily attained. Therefore, the perspective of a stakeholder should have the preference to the interests and perspectives of shareholders, customers, suppliers, and employees. This should have the perspective of local constituencies being put into consideration from time to time.
While these perspectives and interests are not at all times agreed with one another, they are always consistently co-terminus in the view of the continuance of the given corporation. Whereas the market may be indifferent regarding to which corporations expire and to which to prosper, the categories of stakeholders as mentioned are significantly unlikely to be unconcerned. It is likely that the stakeholders may have the desire and make efforts to defend their vested interests in the corporation.
Therefore, the moral ethics of exploiting regions of cheap labour force or the pollution of a region of a significant geographical or environmental meaning, or venturing in economic deals with the government may be associated with the violation of human rights. Also, it may be understood in a different perspective when the implications of holistic and ethical decisions threaten the life of employees in the corporation. The perspective of stakeholders is likely to be inclined towards the vested interests with an immediate access to a decision making process. The stakeholder’s perspective is based on the Cartesian perspective of the whole world as well as on the other than outstanding case that nature remains a resource to be exploited. It is just revealed through the instrumental philosophies of value.
By itself, the stakeholder’s perspective may not provide a sufficiently vigorous theory of the societally stakeholder’s perspective. Even the tools used in analysing the corporation and the philosophical basis of decision making within the view of stakeholder are argumentative. According to Weiss, corporations have to make decisions from time to time. This may negatively impact on the most vocal and obvious stakeholders. In the philosophical meaning, this ought to be the case; however, the issues of vested interests in keeping the organization going on is an intriguing part played by stakeholders. In deciding whether the organization is socially useful, the stakeholder’s perspective tends to be biased. However, the objective of the stakeholder’s perspective may not overcome these restrictions.
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According to Heidegger, the significant power imbalances have existed within the corporation; the information irregularity exists on a higher scale; a technological approach persists; and individuals desist from respecting their moral responsibilities of being stakeholders. But these restrictions are also applicable to the stakeholders’ perspective in the corporation. The objective-stakeholder’s view provides more potential to the corporation as compared to the stakeholder-within view. It means that it may not accept the technological perspective, but as well it does not reject the technological perspective.
The application of the objective-stakeholder holds that the societies by nature are being with a phenomenological perspective of the world. The corporations are significantly essential within the evolutionary establishment of societies; though they do not dominate over the corporate’s actions and thinking. This may be deemed as an idealistic approach, or unrealistic; though some manifestations of these perspectives are apparent in the modern life. The objective-stakeholder perception demonstrates itself in a greater customer reaction to actions; protests against the corporate irregularity; a more problematic one to the government action in supporting the corporate operation; as the stronger laws in protecting natural resources; and the different orientations to the development of corporate decision-making.
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In the current work, the concept of stakeholder and corporation has been assessed in the light of the restriction to the moral responsibility. This is in the reference to the fact that stakeholders’ categories, such as employees, shareholders, and customers among others, have their interests in the continuation of the corporation, which has been termed as the stakeholders within the perception of the corporation.