Utilitarianism, Egoism and Categorical Imperative
According to the principle of utilitarianism, a decision is ethical if it provides a greater net utility than any other solution. Decisions based on the principle of utilitarianism are ethical if they bring the maximum utility to the maximum number of people. One example of utilitarianism in business is when a pharmaceutical company makes a government-approved drug with known side effects. Thus, the drug can help more people despite minor side effects.
Ethical egoism is a normative assertion that the subject must act based on their own interests; it is a standard focused on personal, individual interest. Moreover, the concept of egoism applies to the interests of the organization or local communities. The purpose of egoistic decisions is to ensure the most favorable consequences for the bearer of egoistic interest, regardless of what consequences this decision may have for other parties and persons. An example of ethical selfishness is the Enron Scandal in 2001. The company needed to pay off huge debts, but its managers went rogue, made huge amounts of money, and bankrupted the company.
The categorical imperative implies a rule of conduct that is unconditional or absolute for all agents and whose validity or requirement is independent of any desire or purpose. According to Lutge and Uhl (2021), a person should not be treated as a mere means to an end; the goal is profit maximization in the case of the corporate world. Business owners and investors should not use their employees as a means to maximize profits and expand the business. Employees should not be used as a vehicle for the personal economic advancement of business owners. In the same vein, the host community should not be seen simply as a base for personal economic expansion while it suffers pollution, degradation, and destruction at the hands of business organizations.
Lutge, C., & Uhl, M. (2021). Business ethics: An economically informed perspective. Oxford University Press.