Final Exam Study Question, Business Ethics, Spring 2009


Issues in Advertising Ethics

1.    Do advertisers have rights of free speech? What is the difference between commercial speech and political speech? Is this difference relevant to the 1st amendment protection of free speech? Should it be relevant? (We didn’t talk much about this, though the Nike case study mentions it.)

2.    Is political advocacy by corporations something we should worry about? Give an example. Is corporate dominance of political debate a serious threat? What does Norman Bowie (“Morality, Money, and Motor Cars”) think about this?

3.    Describe the debate over allowing advertisements in schools and assess it from your own position.

4.    Are there any places where advertisements are not appropriate? Give at least two examples from our reading of placement of ads that are (or would be) controversial.

5.    Present two distinct ways in which advertising's portrayal of women has been criticized. Give examples of ads that the critics believe illustrate these criticisms. What are your reasons for agreeing or disagreeing with these criticisms?

6.    Using the example from our reading, explain how advertising might compromise privacy.

McCall on Deceptive Advertising

7.    Define lying. Is all deception lying? Is all lying deception? Are all utterances of intentional falsehoods lies?

8.    Explain how it is possible to deceive someone without outright lying. Give examples of some of the ways advertisers do this.

9.    What is the difference between intentional and unintentional deception? Give examples of each. Give an example of unintentional deception for which a manufacturer is morally culpable (blameworthy).

10.  Why is intentional deception presumptively wrong according to McCall?

11.  Is intentional deception always wrong? What are the three situations in which intentional deception is not wrong according to McCall? Does McCall think advertising is an example of permissible intentional deception in any of these sense?

12.  Why might someone (like your instructor!) think that deception is not necessarily permissible even if everyone involved knows and expects the deception? What else must we assume (or so I argued)?

13.  Assess the following claim: Advertisers should not omit any information that would help the consumer arrive at a rational market choice.

14.  What is Caveat Emptor? What is McCall’s response to the idea that the consumer is at fault for being intentionally deceived because she should have been more vigilant?

Arrington on Advertising and Behavior Control

15.  Must one deceive someone to violate his or her autonomy? Why or why not?

16.  Give an example of an advertisement or marketing strategy which clearly (and relatively uncontroversially) undermines consumer autonomy and explain why you think it does this. If you do not think there are any such advertisements, identify an example that critics are most sure undermine autonomy and explain why you think it does not.

17.  What is the dependence effect? Give examples. Explain why some believe it is troubling.

18.  What is wrong with the following argument: I only buy what I want and therefore I am in control (not the manufacturer of the product).

19.  How are we to draw the distinction between autonomous desire and nonautonomous desire? How does Arrington think we should draw the distinction? How does he think we should not draw the distinction? What are some possible problems I pointed out with Arrington's way of drawing the distinction? (Hint: Consider subliminal ads and brainwashing as mechanisms for producing desires that might be autonomous if we accept Arrington’s definition.)

20.  What are “subjective effects” of a product versus “objective effects”? Give examples. Are desires and purchasing decisions aimed at subjective effects irrational desires and decisions? Explain considerations on both sides of this issue.

Paine and Children’s T.V. Advertising

21.  What would Paine’s response be to the objection to her article that advertisers have a constitutional right of free speech that allows them to target young children with T.V. advertisements?

22.  Give two responses Paine would give to the objection to her views that says most people strongly support T.V. advertising targeted to young children.

23.  What are two distinct capacities Paine claims individuals need to have for them to make responsible consumer decision as the result of advertising? Do young children have these capacities? Why or why not?

24.  Present the argument in favor of advertising to young children as powerfully as you can. Now criticize if from Paine’s perspective. Who do you think is right?

25.  What are some of the statistics that Paine uses to support her contention that children are too trusting and gullible for it to be fair to target them with persuasive advertising.

26.  Why does Paine believe it will be very difficult to advertise truthfully to children?

27.  Why does Paine’s believe that advertising that targets children treats them unfairly and with disrespect?

28.  Given that she thinks it is unfair and disrespectful, how does Paine respond to the defense of advertising to children that says “Children are protected because parents exercise control over purse strings.”

29.  In what ways does Paine believe such advertising harms children?

30.  I suggested that advertising towards children was like advertising to another group of individuals. Identify this group and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of this analogy.

31.  What alternative to advertising targeting children does Paine suggest? Is this a realistic alternative?

Schultz, Harassment Law, and Ethical Issues about Women in Business

32.  What is sexism? Explain what it is and give an example. What is Feminism? Is unfair discrimination against women ongoing?

33.  What is Schultz’s view of the claim that sexual harassment is to be understood as occurring when sexual interest in women (or men) leads to some sort of disadvantage to women (or men)? Explain her response to this claim in detail and with examples.

34.  According to Shultz, what are some of the functions of sexual harassment at work?

35.  Does Shultz say about sexual harassment of men at work?

36.  What is Schultz’s view about the claim that an important step toward solving the problem of sexual harassment at work is restricting as much as possible sexual interest or relations between men and women who work together.

37.  What do some married women from the Wharton School of Finance do when they go on job interviews?

38.  What are two different reasons some employers might believe justify paying a young woman starting a job less than an equally qualified young man? In your own mind, are these good reasons? Why or why not?

39.  Explain Paul Campos’ views about societal perceptions of women’s bodies in “Dying to be Thin.”

Issues in Business Environmental Ethics

40.  Explain the greenhouse effect and the related issue of global warming. What is the major greenhouse gas? What human activities produce greenhouse gases?

41.  What does the Germany city of Marburg require of those building new buildings or refurbishing old ones?

42.  Why might a judge argue that although pollution from a factory is significantly harming the factory’s neighbors, instead of shutting down the factory (or having it cleanup its operations), the factory should be allowed to pay its neighbors the value of the harm it causes them. Evaluate this policy from a utilitarian and then from a rights based perspective.

43.  Why would the Environmental Protection Agency or the Consumer Product Safety Commission need to have a $ figure on the value of human life? How would (do) they use this?

44.  Explain why some have argued that driving an SUV is to support terrorism? Does this claim make any sense?

45.  Explain what it would involve to harvest trees sustainably or to use groundwater sustainably. Is it ever more profitable to harvest resources unsustainably?

46.  Assess the following claim: Environmental labeling by businesses like Home Depot and Wal-Mart are costing those companies significant amounts of money, but it is worth it for the sake of protecting the environment.

47.  Describe some of the steps France has proposed taking for the sake of a “greener globe.”

48.  Describe the changes at Interface Corporation over the last few decades (this is the carpet company that Ray Anderson founded).

49.  Explain the difference between a fashion minimalist and a fashion maximalist (in Schor’s “Clothes Encounter”)? Which is Schor and why? Does she think it shallow to express our values through what we wear? Does Schor in this article think we are too materialistic?”

Schor on Why We Consume So Much

50.  Does Schor believe that people in general consume too much? Why or why not?

51.  Mention several of the statistics and examples Schor uses to make the case that our consumption is exorbitant.

52.  Explain Schor’s view of the claim that: We consume too much because advertisers have seduced us into buying things we really don’t want.

53.  What are the three ways Schor argues our consumption is unsustainable?

54.  Describe and then explain the three “structural features” that Schor identifies as leading to excess consumption.

55.  Does Schor agree or disagree with the following claim: People choose their desired tradeoff between work and leisure, and thus they also choose the level of income they have and the level of consumption this allows them to engage in.

56.  Explain Schor’s argument to the effect that because we do not properly value natural resources we consume much more than we otherwise would. How exactly do we not properly value natural resources?

57.  How does today’s “competitive consumption” differ from the 1950s desire to “keep up with the Jones?”

58.  Explain why such “competitive consumption” (or consuming because others consume) is difficult to resist even if we want to.

59.  What is the difference between offensive and defensive competitive consumption?

60.  Use Schor’s “standing at a ball game” analogy to explain her views about solutions to competitive consumption.

Diamond on What’s Your Consumption Factor

61.  How many times greater is average consumption and waste production in North America than in the rest of the world?

62.   Why does Diamond think it is a “cruel hoax’ to suggest to the developing countries that if they “institute honest government and free-market economy” they too can enjoy a first-world lifestyle.

63.  What is Diamond’s proposed solution to the impossibility that everyone live like American’s do? Does he think this will require real sacrifice on our part?

Affluenza Film

64.  What is “Affluenza” as described in the film? What are three or four major points made in the film?

65.  Identify and explain several ways in which growth in GNP does not indicate an improvement in our lives.

66.  What is an “uncommercial?” What were the networks’ response to them?

67.  Is the following true: Conservative Christians are worried about the effects of our culture’s focus on consumption. Explain why or why not.

68.  According to the video, are people happier at our current high level of consumption than we used to be? Explain.

69.  Develop an argument both for and against the idea that it is unfair for Americans to be as rich as we are while so many in the world have virtually nothing.

70.  What is simple living? Describe the voluntary simplicity movement. Is this a desirable alternative lifestyle in your opinion? Why or why not?

Bowie on Morality, Money and Motor Cars

71.  Explain the position Norman Bowie takes in "Money, Morality, and Motor Cars" concerning business' special obligations with respect to the environment.

72.  Articulate one obligation he thinks businesses don't have regarding the environment and explain his reasons for claiming they have no such obligation. Use the auto safety analogy in your explanation. Assess this argument from your own point of view.

73.  Now articulate one special obligation regarding the environment he thinks businesses do have and explain why he thinks they do. Assess this argument from your own viewpoint. Why is this a special obligation pertaining to the environment?

74.  What are public goods? Define the idea and give some examples. What does it mean to say that some environmental goods are public goods? Describe the public goods characteristics of several environmental goods. Relate this discussion of public goods to the notion of “free riders.” What implications does this idea have for Bowie's claim that consumers accept the harm businesses cause the environment when they buy products caused through legal pollution and legal resource degradation?

75.  What is an externality? What does it mean for a business to externalize its cost onto others? Give an example. What would it mean for a business to "internalize its externalities?" What social policies might bring this about? What implications would this have on the relative consumption of environmentally-friendly and environmentally unfriendly good?

76.  Explain the difference between thinking of people as consumers and thinking of them as citizens. Might people’s preferences as expressed by their consumption behavior differ from what they believe is right as expressed by their political behavior (e.g., voting). Explain.

Lovins and Hawken on Road Map for Natural Capitalism

77.  Using examples, explain the notion of “ecosystem services.” According to Lovins and Hawken, what is the yearly value of such services? How does it compare to world gross national product?

78.  According to Lovins and Hawken, will the shift to more environmentally-friendly business involve limitations on profits? Why or why not?

79.  Identify the three of the four shifts in business practices Lovins and Hawken envision if we are to have a natural capitalism.

80.  What are some examples of ways to dramatically increase productivity that they give?

81.  What does it mean to “redesign production according to biological models?” (E.g., What is “closed-loop” manufacturing?)

82.  Using an example, explain what it means to shift to a “Solutions-based (or service based) business model.” What is the alternative model away from which they suggest shifting. (You might use Interface–the carpeting company–as an example.)

83.  What is “natural capital?” In what sense is “natural capital” capital? What does it mean to re-invest in natural capital?

84.  What are some of their examples of perverse incentives that keep us from moving toward natural capitalism?

85.  Do they believe it is likely that natural capitalism will at some point in the future come about?

Issues in International Business and Development Ethics

86.  Do multinational corporations have obligations to consider the impact of their activities on the welfare of local people in the countries in which they operate? Using the Indonesian Corruption example, how can it be argued that these corporations had a negative impact on local peoples.

87.  Why are critics worried about developing countries shifting their agriculture to producing cash crops for export (e.g., from producing black beans for local markets to coffee for international markets)?

88.  Are environmental concerns a luxury only wealth countries can afford?

89.  Using examples, argue both for and against the claim that businesses should “when in Rome do as the Romans do.”

90.  Were the Japanese car makers practicing affirmative action here in the U.S.? Might someone who was opposed to affirmative action nonetheless be critical of Japanese car makers hiring practices here in the U.S.?

91.  Describe the practice of child and bonded labor with concrete examples. What exactly is “bonded labor?” Morally evaluate these practices from your own perspective. Do corporations have moral responsibilities to monitor the practices of their suppliers?

92.  A safe drug is one whose “level of risk is acceptable.” What was the example of a drug that was not safe in the U.S. but that was arguably safe for use in Africa and explain how it illustrated this claim (p. 535)? Does this assume that African lives are less valuable then American lives?

93.  What is “fair trade” coffee? Is there a market for such coffee? Do consumers have obligations to buy this type of coffee? Why or why not?

94.  Discuss the responsibilities of multinational drug companies concerning the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Should such companies cut their prices on AIDS drugs for the African market? If you were a leader of an African nation and 25% of your citizens had AIDS, would you respect drug company patents or instead have your scientists synthesize a generic version of this drug and provide it for your people free of charge? Are intellectual property rights important moral rights? Why or why not? (Do you engage in unauthorized copying of music or computer programs?)

95.  What is (was) the green revolution? Explain what the results of this revolution have been in India. (If you were not in class for this discussion, visit the following website and listen to the story:

Donaldson on Rights in the Global Market

96.  Using an example we discussed in class, assess the idea that what is right and wrong depends solely on what a culture believes is right and wrong (so that if a culture thinks a practice is right, it is right).

97.  According to Thomas Donaldson (in “Rights in the Global Marketplace), what are some clear cut examples of legal activities of multinational corporations that violate human rights?

98.  Is it more, or is it less, plausible in the international context (in contrast to the domestic context) to claim that a business is being morally responsible as long as it follows the law. Explain your answer.

99.  Donaldson gives an example of a right that is possessed in some nations that is not possessed in others and he gives a criterion (condition) for the existence of rights that supports this cultural variability. Identify both the criterion and the example and explain how the example illustrates this criterion.

100.     How does the philosophical dictum “ought implies can” help explain Donaldson’s “affordability criterion” for rights.

101.     Identity four of Donaldson’s ten fundamental international rights and then illustrate each with an example pertaining to international business.

102.     What are the three types of duties that go along with these international rights? Give examples of duties of multinational corporations might have that illustrate each type of duty. Which of these types of duties does Donaldson believe multinational corporations have and which (if any) does he think they do not have? Explain his reasoning. Which do individuals and governments have?

103.     Explain the sense in which Donaldson takes a mid-way position between Albert Carr’s view of social responsibility and Kenneth’s Goodpaster’s views.

Brenkert on Marketing, the Ethics of Consumption, and Less-Developed Countries

104.     What analogy does Brenkert use at the beginning of his paper to motivate his critique of marketers’ approach to third world development? Is this a fair analogy in your view?

105.     According to Brenkert, what are some of the negative values of the consumer society?

106.     What are some of Brenkert’s examples of cultural values of the people of India that are threatened by marketing the consumer society to them?

107.     What is Brenkert’s main concern about international marketing and what is his main message for marketers? Do you agree with his message?

108.     What is Brenkert’s views about whether LDCs need to increase their consumption of goods and services? Does he take a primitivistic and paternalistic attitude toward the LDCs? What is involved in taking such attitudes?

109.     What are some of the objections Brenkert identifies concerning the role international marketers have played in international development? Consider homogenization, unattainable and unsustainable goals, and meaning/values of a questionable nature.

110.     What are some of Brenkert’s concrete examples of the ways in which marketers have failed to meet his standards for ethically responsible international marketing?