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Business &

Technology
Ethics

Chapter 4:
Individual in Capitalist
Business

By
SZA

1 Saturday, November 1, 2008


Introduction

 This chapter focuses on the role of


the individual in the Capitalist Order.

 The role of the individual in the


Capitalist Order is two-fold:

 A participant responsible for efficiently


running business (or sustaining capitalist
order)
 A consumer

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Traditional Sources of Knowledge in
Pakistani Society

 Religion

 Indo-Pak Culture

 19th Century British Imperialism

 Ethical education passed on from generation to


generation

 Communal and social practices – family values

 ‘Professional’ education did not exist

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Sources of Knowledge for
Pakistani Society Today

 Today, small businesses can no longer remain isolated


family ventures due to Globalization.

 In the first phase, privileged families would send their


scions abroad to get a business education.

 Today, a large number of the population can and do obtain


a business education locally.

 Most Business Education programs include one three


credit course on Business Ethics. This would be suitable for
an environment where Capitalization is the undoubted
norm, rather than Pakistan where there the Capitalist
Order can by no means be taken for granted as it is “an
underdeveloped capitalist formation” (Ansari et all 2005,
pg 9).

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Sources of Knowledge for
Pakistani Society Today

 The flip side of this scenario is that very few Pakistani


individuals actually have a detailed and profound
knowledge of Islam.

 The usual attitude is, “Islam is right and whatever is good


is in Islam”.

 Add this to the knowledge of “good” being derived from


the Capitalist Order and therein is the conflict, causing
contradictory terms like “Islamic Finance”, “Islamic
Banking” and “Islamic Democracy”.

 These concepts are contradictory since they claim to be


different from Western Baking and Finance, yet after a
detailed study, Henry and Wilson (2005) concluded that
there seems to be “little to differentiate Islamic from
conventional banks”.
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Contrasting Knowledge Sources

Western Philosophy Islam

 Socratic “question and  Truth (“Al-Haq”) is


answer method” available through
Revelation (Holy Quran)
 Pursuing the truth
through analytical  Truth can be derived
discussion from interpretation of
Hadith and historical
Ijma
 Presupposition of
existence of knowledge
and the ability to attain  Truth cannot be
it through human attained through
faculties of reason and human faculties or
observation reason
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Socratic Concept of Knowledge
 For Socrates, “Knowledge is virtue”. (The
assumption is that only an ignorant person
would not be virtuous)

 Traditional Business Ethics courses and the


Capitalist Order assumes the same. (once you
are informed about ethical practices, you will
accept and adhere to them)

 What is missing is that ‘why’ the person must


accept the metaphysical assumptions of the
Capitalist Order.

 [Does ‘Emaan’ and then ‘Aml’ ring any bells?]

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Aristotelian Sources of
Knowledge
 Virtue Ethics, the heroes of the times define virtuous
behavior.

 In business theory, the focus is on emulating


business heroes who manage to maximize profits in
a manner consistent with maximizing social well-
being.

 Moral character, i.e. the predisposition to make


certain choices when faced with dilemmas is
fundamental in this ethical theory than actions.

 The Pakistani consumer cannot be depended on to


have the predisposition to consume regardless of
other variables. For example, certain products have
been boycotted due to religious or cultural
objections.
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Kantian Sources of Knowledge

 Kantian Ethics states that there is a rational


basis to decide things that we should and
should not do.

 Thus, moral obligations have naught to do


with consequences, but arise solely from a
moral law binding on all humans.

 Principle of Universalizability – the same


standards and ethical codes apply to all,
there can be no double standards.

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Habermas’ Sources of
Knowledge

 Habermas considers the subject/object dichotomy to be


the key factor in reason being awarded the ‘instrumental’
label.

 Habermas considers the Capitalist Order and constitutional


democracy to be perfect instruments that would help build
global consensus.

 His only concern is that the activity should not be violent


(i.e. the global War on Terror) but rather ‘through
improvement of living conditions’ and ‘a sensible relief
from oppression and fear’ (Borradori/Habermas 2004 pg
36).

 Habermas considers Islamic fundamentalism to be the


‘defensive reaction against the fear of violent uprooting of
traditional ways of life’ (Borradori/Habermas 2004 pg 32).
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Justification of Enlightenment

 MacIntyre believes that the Enlightenment project of


justifying morality has failed.

 He explains in After Virtue that efforts by Enlightenment


philosophers to justify universal morality was just an effort
to justify moralities of their predecessor culture.

 He considers Kierkegaard’s Either-Or to be an epitaph of


the systematic attempt to discover a rational justification
of morality.

 For Kierkegaard, according to MacIntyre, the choice


between the ethical and the aesthetic is not the choice
between good and evil, rather it is the choice whether or
not to choose in terms of good and evil.

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Ethical Choices

 Despite all theory, the consumer and employee still face


decision making scenarios, no matter how ill-informed or
inconsistent they may be.

 A typical person may in principle agree on wanting to end


up in heaven as his goal but his actions do not seem
directed towards this goal.

 MacIntyre explains this with two concepts, “man as he is”


and “man as he could be if he realized his essential
nature”. Ethics is the science that allows men to
understand how to make the transition from the former to
the latter.

 Most contemporary modernist and post modernist thinkers


reject any view of human nature that involves man having
an essence which defines his true end.

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Accountability
 What motivates a person to act ethically
and make moral judgments?

 In the Capitalist Order, it is because some


principle needs to be obeyed (Kantian
Categorical Imperative) or due to some
favorable result that would follow
(Utilitarian Principle).

 In either case, a metaphysical framework


(Capitalist equivalent of Islamic
“Emani’aat”) is presupposed to which the
individual must be committed.

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Authority and Reason
 Kierkegaard’s analysis states that if Ethical principle
is to be prioritized over the Aesthetic one, then it
must be through some kind of authority.

 A principle “for the choice of which no reasons can


be given would be a principle devoid of authority”
(MacIntyre 1985, 42)

 MacIntyre also notes that the notion of Authority


and Reason are not intimately connected. He notes
that the concept of authority as excluding reason is
almost exclusively a modern concept, fashioned in a
culture where authority is alien and repugnant and
therefore, to be avoided.

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The Individual in Capitalist
Businesses

Orthodox and Revisionist


Islamic Approaches

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Consumerism

 The ethics and behavior of an Islamic


individual and a capitalist consumer are
different.

 The latter is not supposed to distinguish


between needs and wants and consume
more and more for the benefit of the
system.

 Most post modernists recognize, however,


that increased consumption has done little
good to improve the happiness level of
mature capitalist societies.
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Islamic Individuals as
Consumers

 The Islamic metaphysical framework


focuses on the life after this world and calls
this world a temporary resting place.

 Such values are the opposite of the


capitalist value of expanded consumption
and accumulation as end in itself.

 Since Islam means “submission”, the


Capitalist value of “freedom” can never be
accepted as a legitimate value in Islam.

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The Revisionist Approach

 The Revisionists inculcate Islam in capitalist


regulatory procedures in such a way that
the original spirit of accumulation remains
unharmed.

 An example is Mufti Usmani’s ‘four basic


defects of Capitalism’, i.e. bank interest,
gambling, speculation and hoarding.

 However, he endorses accumulation,


capitalist property and capitalist rationality
embodied in the laws of demand and
supply.
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The Orthodox Approach

 The Orthodox Approach does not approve of


consumerism and accumulation.

 The Orthodox also do not consider the


Capitalist Order to be natural and believes
that it can be transcended.

 Transcendence from capitalist order is


visualized in the form of an Islamic
revolution (via Jihad)

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