Ethics – Moral Principles

The term ethics is defined as a system of moral principles. When incorporating ethics with business it is extremely difficult to determine what is considered moral or immoral, as well as what is judged as justice in society. One viewpoint on this topic opposes justice can be compatible with business. The other viewpoint believes there is a line that draws between good and bad; it really depends upon the motive of the action. Is business ethics possible in our present day society?
Matigari, a short story written by Ngugi wa Thiong’o, shows it is evident that Ngugi was trying to make it clear that ethics would be impossible in a democratic society. The main character in the story, whose name is Matigari, is continuously searching for truth and justice. “My friends! Can you tell me where a person could find truth and justice in this country? ” (Ngugu, 1989) were his exact words when approaching people. The crowds would all look at him as if he were speaking nonsense. Matigari feels as though the democratic world in which he is living was created upside down. The builder sleeps in the open, the worker is left empty-handed, the tailor goes naked, and the tiller goes to sleep on an empty stomach” (Ngugu, 1989). He wonders where truth and justice lies in this world; for even those who farm are starving. His search leads him to a meeting called by the Minister for Truth and Justice. The real truth can be found within the oppressed. He had built his own home, yet it was still taken away from him; it is a clear example of a capitalist private property. Matigari favours the labour theory of property, which gives labourers the right to own their own land.
It is clearly not ethical to take one’s land away in which he or she worked upon. It is evident Matigari believes in the labour theory of property; whereas the government enforces a capitalist private property. The labour theory of property is a natural law theory that holds that property originally comes about by the person doing the labour upon natural resources. Land in its original state would be considered not owned by anyone, but if someone were to apply his or her labour to the land it would become their property.

On the other hand, private property is central to capitalism (Samuels, 2002). Under capitalism, private hands control basic assets and productive resources. The major economic decisions are made by individuals or groups acting upon their own pursuit of profit. This is what the government has done; they have created the society into private property. For this reason, Matigari has declared for the labour theory of property to be sought out. The Kantian ethics believes all moral duties, maxims, or certain rules of conduct can be labelled either wrong or right. Act only on that maxim which you can will to be a universal law” (Macmillan, 1972). The universal law is fundamental. What is considered part of this universal conduct should be clear to everyone throughout the world. For example, rules that allow murder and cheating etc. cannot be part of the moral code. However, rules such as do not commit murder can be classified as a moral duty. Kant states one should only follow principals that are morally correct. Moral rules are those that can be followed by people consistently throughout the world, no matter where one lives.
Furthermore, the reward of virtue is not happiness but dignity and freedom (Macmillan, 1972). Kant tries to explain that when one is righteous and true, happiness is not the given prize, but one would receive self-respect and liberty instead. Real freedom means obeying no laws but only those that can be legislated as universal moral laws. Both viewpoints touch upon the topic of fear when it comes to ethics. “There is too much fear in this country… Too much fear breeds misery in the land” (Ngugu, 1989).
This so called fear in the story, Matigari, tries to explain that fear causes a society to become unjust. If everyone was too afraid to confront someone in which he or she were doing something unmerited then this injustice will continue. The democratic government is used as an example in the short story. All the citizens are too afraid to stand up to the prejudiced government; therefore, no changes were made until Matigari had no anxiety and fear of the government. In addition, the opposing viewpoint also speaks of fear in a society; although it is not exactly the same.
No one ever obeys laws because they are scared but because one is morally trying to follow the universal moral laws. Freedom and fear cannot coincide when trying to make moral decisions. The Kantian viewpoint is one that is more comprehendible than the viewpoint found in the short story Matigari. It is agreeable that one can find ethics in business. A universal moral law is one that is shared throughout the world and would be agreed upon by all people from all nations. Due to the fact that there are many different cultures there is a “golden rule” to be found in all the great religions (Macmillan, 972). The golden rule is part of the moral code of anything that is judged as a moral principle. Being agreeable in all religions and cultures it would definitely be ethical to follow these rules of moral conduct. Such rules such as “thou shall not kill” (Lintin, 1999) can be found in the bible; it is part of the moral code. It is like an unwritten rule that everyone on this earth can understand that it is wrong to murder a human being. To a certain extent there is such thing as ethics when it comes to business and how a society should be run.

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