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Business Ethics An ethical approach is becoming necessary both for corporate success and a positive corporate image.

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Today, the topic of our discussion is Justice and Fairness.
Points to be covered in this lesson:


Concept of justice

Justice: The word “justice” is on everyone’s lips nowadays, and may signify almost anything. We hear the cry “Peace and Justice!” from people who would destroy existing societies with fire and sword. Other people fancy that perfect justice might readily be obtained by certain financial rearrangements — as if anything in this world ever could be perfected. Very often we all say that the particular action was not justified. It was not right on the part of that person to treat us like the way he or she did but do you know what is the meaning of justice and fairness? Lets understand the meaning of these two terms. “Justice is the ligament which holds civilized beings and civilized nations together,” said Daniel Webster at the funeral of Justice Joseph Story, in 1845. Fairness: Fairness is conformity with rules or standards and ability to make judgments free from discrimination or dishonesty Disputes among individuals in business are often interlaced with references to justice or to fairness. Justice and fairness are essentially comparative. They are concerned with the comparative treatment given to the members of a group when benefits and burdens are distributed, when rules and laws are administered, when members of a group cooperate or compete with each other, and when people are punished for the wrongs they have done or compensated for the wrongs they have suffered. Standards of Justice are generally taken to be more important than utilitarian considerations, however, standards of Justice do not generally override the moral rights of individuals. Principles of Justice The most fundamental principle of justice—one that has been widely accepted since it was first defined by Aristotle more than two thousand years ago—is the principle that “equals should be treated equally and unequal unequally.” In its contemporary form, this principle is sometimes expressed as follows: “Individuals should be treated the same, unless they differ in ways that are relevant to the situation in which they are involved.” For example, if Jack and Jill both do the same work, and there are no relevant differences between them or the work they are doing, then in justice they should be paid the same wages. And if Jack is paid more than Jill simply because he is a man, or because he is white, then we have an injustice—a form of discrimination—because race and sex are not relevant to normal work situations. There are, however, many differences that we deem as justifiable criteria for treating people differently. For example, we think it is fair and just when a parent gives his own children more

attention and care in his private affairs than he gives the children of others; we think it is fair when the person who is first in a line at a theater is given first choice of theater tickets; we think it is just when the government gives benefits to the needy that it does not provide to more affluent citizens; we think it is just when some who have done wrong are given punishments that are not meted out to others who have done nothing wrong; and we think it is fair when those who exert more efforts or who make a greater contribution to a project receive more benefits from the project than others. These criteria—need, desert, contribution, and effort—we acknowledge as justifying differential treatment, then, are numerous. On the other hand, there are also criteria that we believe are not justifiable grounds for giving people different treatment. In the world of work, for example, we generally hold that it is unjust to give individual’s special treatment on the basis of age, sex, race, or their religious preferences. If the judge’s nephew receives a suspended sentence for armed robbery when another offender unrelated to the judge goes to jail for the same crime, or the brother of the Director of Public Works gets the million dollar contract to install sprinklers on the municipal golf course despite lower bids from other contractors, we say that it’s unfair. We also believe it isn’t fair when a person is punished for something over which he or she had no control, or isn’t compensated for a harm he or she suffered. And the people involved in the “brown lung hearings” felt that it wasn’t fair that some diseases were provided with disability compensation, while other similar diseases weren’t.
Issues involving Justice and fairness are usually divided into three categories:

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Distributive Justice (concerned with the fair distribution of societies benefits and burdens), Retributive Justice (the just imposition of punishments and penalties upon those who do wrong), Compensatory Justice, (the just way of compensating people for what they lost when they were wronged buy others).

Distributive Justice When people’s desires and aversions exceed the adequacy of their resources, they are forced to develop principles for allocating scarce benefits and undesirable burdens in ways that are just and that resolve the conflicts in a fair way. The development of such principles is the concern of distributive justice. The fundamental principle of Distributed Justice may be expressed as follows: Individuals who are similar in all respects relevant to the kind of treatment in question should be given similar benefits and burdens, even if they are dissimilar in other irrelevant respects; and individuals who are dissimilar in a relevant respect ought to be treated dissimilarly, in proportion to their dissimilarity.


The fundamental principle of distributed Justice, is that equals should be treated equally and unequal, unequally. It is based on a purely logical idea that we must be consistent in the way we treat similar situations. If, for example, Vinod and Akanksha are both doing the same work for me and there are no relevant differences between them or the work they are doing, then in justice I should pay them equal wages. However, if Akanksha is working twice as long as Vinod and if length of working time is the relevant basis for determining wages on the sort of the work they are doing, then, to be just, I should pay Akanksha twice as much as Vinod. Justice as Equality: Egalitarianism Every person should be given exactly equal shares of a society’s or a group’s benefits and burdens. Egalitarians base their view on the proposition that all human beings are equal in some fundamental respect and that, in virtue of this equality, each person has an equal claim to society’s goods. Equality has been proposed as a principle of justice not only for entire societies, but also within smaller groups or organizations. Justice Based on Contribution: Capitalist Justice According to the Capitalist view, when people engage in economic exchanges with each other, what a person gets out of the exchange should be at least equal in value to what he or she contributed. Justice means that the benefits a person receives should be proportional to the value of his or her contribution. Benefits should be distributed according to the value of the contribution the individual makes to a society, the task, a group, and foreign exchange. The principle of contribution is the most widely used principle of fairness used to establish salaries and wages in American companies. One of the assumptions behind the “Puritan ethic” is that the harder one works, the more one deserves. The market forces of supply and demand should determine the value of a person’s product. But, how to measure the “value of contribution” of each individual. Answer to this given by capitalist is: Contribution of individuals should be measured in terms of:


Productivity: The better the quality of the individual’s contributed product the more compensation they should receive. Problems related to this method of measurement: It ignores peoples’ needs

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The needs of handicapped & other disadvantaged people will not be met Especially in certain fields such as Artistic production Science — especially basic research Education Religion Health care

It is hard to place an objective value on contributed products

The better the quality of a person’s contributed product, the more he or she should receive. In order to deal with the second criticism the principle of contribution has been suggested. They say that the market forces of supply and demand should determine the value of a person’s product. The value of a product would then depend not on its intrinsic value but on the extent to which it is both relatively scarce and is viewed by buyers as desirable. Justice based on Needs and Abilities: Socialism The socialist principle states that: Work burdens should be distributed according to people’s abilities and benefits should be distributed according to people’s needs. This principle is based first on the idea that people realize their human potential by exercising their abilities in productive work. The benefits produced through work should be used to promote happiness and well being and this means distributing them so that people’s basic biological and health needs are met, and then using what is left over to meet people’s other non basic needs. The principle of need and ability, however, is the principle that tends to be least acknowledged in business. Needs and abilities certainly should be taken into account when determining how benefits and burdens should be distributed among the members of a society or group. Justice as Freedom: Libertarianism From each according to what he chooses to do, to each according to what he makes for himself (perhaps with the contracted aid of others) and what others choose to do for him and choose to give him of what they’ve been given previously (under this maxim) and haven’t yet extended or transferred. In general, people should be allowed to keep everything they make and everything they are freely given.
Criticism of Libertarianism:


Work effort: The greater the quantity of the individuals effort the greater their compensation should be: the harder you work the more you should paid. Problems related to this method of measurement: It ignores that how effectively you work

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The incompetent drudge would be rewarded more than someone who produced more by working less. If we reward people solely for their efforts and ignore their abilities and relative productivity, then talented and highly productive people will be given little incentive to invest their talent and productivity in producing goods for society.


Libertarians only stress on one value that is the freedom from the coercion of others and sacrifices all other rights and values to it, without giving any reason that why this should be done.


This means that it would be wrong to tax one person (that is, take the persons money) in order to provide welfare benefits for someone else’s needs.


The critics of Libertarianism say, if people through no-fault of their own happen to be unable to care for themselves, their survival should not depend on the outside chance that others will provide them with what they need.

governed by those principles, but that they did not yet know what each of them would turn out to be like in that society. Rawls refers to the situation of such an imaginary group of rational persons as the “original position”, and he refers to their ignorance of any particulars about themselves as the “veil of ignorance”. Retributive Justice If the purpose of a punishment is to deter others from committing the same wrong or to prevent the wrongdoer from repeating the wrong, then punishment should not be greater than what is consistently necessary to achieve these aims. Compensatory Justice

A person may be ill, handicapped, unable to obtain the tools or land needed to produce goods, too old or too young to work, or otherwise incapable of producing anything through his or her own efforts. And other people may refuse to provide that person with what he or she needs. According to libertarianism this person should not get anything but critics say that this is not right Each person’s life is of value and consequently each person should be cared for, even if this means coercing others into distributing some of their surplus to the person. Justice as Fairness: Rawls By this time so many theories were discussed that a comprehensive theory capable of drawing these considerations together and fitting them together into a logical whole was needed. So that’s how John Rawl’s came up with this theory. John Rawl’s theory is based on the assumption that conflicts involved should be settled by first devising a fair method for choosing the principles by which conflicts will be resolved. The principles of distributive Justice that Rawls proposes can be paraphrased by saying that the distribution of benefits and burdens in a society is just if, and only if: 1. Each person has an equal right to the most extensive basic liberties compatible with similar liberties for all, and 2. Social and economic inequalities are arranged so that they are both a. To the greatest benefit of the least advantaged persons, and b. Attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity. Principle 1 is called the Principle of Equal Liberty Essentially it says that each citizen’s liberties must be protected from invasion by others and must be equal to those of others. Principle 2a is the Difference Principle It assumes that a productive society will incorporate inequalities, but it then asserts that steps must be taken to improve the position of the most needy members of society such as the sick and the disabled unless such improvements would so burden society that they make everyone, including the needy, worse off than before. Principle 2b is the Principle of Fair Equality of Opportunity It says that everyone should be given and equal opportunity to qualify for the more privileged positions in society’s institu- tions. This means not only that job qualifications should be related to the requirements of the job, but that each person must have access to the training and education needed to qualify for the desirable jobs. Rawls principle of Justice consists of determining what principles a group of rational self interested persons would choose to live by, if they knew they would live in a society


It concerns restoring to individuals what they have lost due to being wronged by another. We generally hold that when one person wrongfully harms the interests of another person, the wrongdoer has a moral duty to provide some form of restitution to the person he or she wronged.


Insofar as possible the wrongdoer should restore the loss The most controversial forms of compensation undoubtedly are the “preferential treatment” programs that attempt to remedy past injustices against groups. If a racial group, for example, has been unjustly discriminated against for an extended period of time in the past and its members consequently now hold the lowest economic and social positions in society, does justice require that members of that group be compensated by being given special preference in hiring, training, and promotion procedures? Or would such special treatment itself be a violation of justice by violating the principle of equal treatment? Does justice legitimize quotas even if this requires turning down more highly qualified non- minorities? These are complex and involved questions that we will not be able to answer at this point.


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The most fundamental principle of justice is the principle that “equals should be treated equally and unequals unequally.” Issues involving justice and fairness – distributive justice, retributive justice and compensatory justice.

Briefly discuss the principles of justice. What are the different types of justice?


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