Learning Activity #1
After doing the readings and watching the various video clips, what is ethics? Before you start writing, first, reflect on your understanding of what ethics is, and how you could describe the difference between ethics and the law.

Your first learning activity will require that you respond in writing to the following scenario:
Your boss has asked that you give a written presentation detailing the major difference between ethics and the law. He is concerned that, although a certain practice is not illegal, it would probably be considered unethical by your customers (if they ever found out). At the same time, however, the practice will give your company a significant competitive advantage. There is no requirement that the company divulge the fact that it is engaging in this practice, and there is no reason to believe that anyone outside the company would ever find out.
Your boss wants to understand how law and ethics relate to one another, and how one truly “knows” whether something is unethical. He asks whether corporate compliance with the law is all that is required, or whether individual ethical considerations must also guide corporate action. He directs you to prepare a short memo summarizing the difference between law and ethics, addressing the above concerns and giving him advice as to what course of action the company should pursue in this case, and why.

After doing the readings and watching the various video clips, note in your memo what questions still remain outstanding. Feel free to supplement your memo with any additional [properly cited] material you uncover in your research and additional readings.

Learning Activity #2
What opinion did you have as to any ethical requirement for corporations to comply with ethical standards? Having read and observed the material provided under this 2nd theme – “Why Study Business Ethics?” – has this changed your mind? You will see that there remains a divergence of opinion. Some believe that business should focus just on making a profit; others are convinced that business must also consider what the ethically right thing to do, in the pursuit of their business concerns.
Which view do you think is correct? And why?

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Focusing on Profits vs. considering what is Ethically Right

While making a profit and generating wealth for shareholders is the primary reason why businesses exist, it is important to note that businesses do not operate in a vacuum. Businesses are legal entities and as such they are members of the communities that they operate in. They cannot be exempt from complying with the ethical expectations of their community. Consequently, businesses must consider the ethically right thing to do in the pursuit of their interests. Focusing on profits and ignoring ethical considerations may result in causing harm in pursuit of profits. Therefore, it is critical that businesses make ethical considerations an integral part of their business pursuits....
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