Business Studies Essay


Kenneth E. Goodpaster from Harvard University has has attempted to develop a set of rules similar to Immanuel Kant’s ethics theory for business practice:

1. Avoid and prevent harming others.

2. Help those in need.

3. Do not lie or cheat.

4. Respect the rights of others.

5. Keep promises or contracts.

6. Obey the law.

7. Be fair.

8. Encourage others to follow these principles.


Examine the rules of business practice developed by Goodpaster.
Which of these rules would you find:
– easiest to do?
– hardest to do?
Outline the reasons for your answer.


Kenneth E. Goodpaster’s Rules for Business Practice

            Kenneth E. Goodpaster of Harvard University has attempted to develop a set of rules for business practice that is similar to Immanuel Kant’s ethical theory. Kantian ethics, as the latter philosopher’s theory is called, refers to a code of ethics which states that an action is considered right or wrong based on whether or not it fulfills its duty. This theory proposes that individuals or agencies follow a moral principle that does not change in spite of circumstances. In line with the above theory, Goodpaster’s eight rules for business practice provide restrictions and regulations to be followed in a business environment so as to act as some sort of ethical guideline in the business environment. These rules define the relationship between a business and its customers, suppliers, and governing or authorities.


            Out of the eight listed rules, the easiest ones to do are the first one and the third one, which state that one should avoid and prevent harming others and that one should not lie or cheat respectively. The first rule is easy to follow as it only requires the business owner or entity to act in normal ways that reflect human mindfulness for others. Harming customers or other stakeholders of the business would result in losses for the business itself hence it would not make sense to harm the hand that feeds the business entity. The third rule which addresses the issue of lying only requires that one practices honesty in all operations in order to ensure balanced accounts and avoidance of missing or misappropriated funds.

            Of the Goodpaster’s eight rules, the ones which are hardest to follow are the second and the eighth one. The second one states that one should help those in need while the eight one encourage others to follow all the aforementioned principles respectively. It may be hard to help those in need as not everyone always has good intentions. For example, some people being helped may take advantage of the business and steal from it instead. To encourage others to follow these principles might also be hard because as rational beings, all humans have varying sets of beliefs and principles that guide their day-to-day actions. It would be almost impossible to make people to abandon what they believe in and instead to adopt Goodpaster’s rules.

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