Methods of Enron Essay
Business Ethics. London: Chapman and Hall.
Pages 79−106, 143‒146.
[The text is derived from a publisher’s proof, and may differ slightly from the finished book. If quoting, it is best to cite the relevant WOLF page.]
In the previous chapter we looked at the role of values in business and considered how business ethics was becoming part of the professionalization of business. But what exactly are ethical judgments, and how do we justify them?
At first appearance this may seem a needless difficulty. After all, is it not obvious what is happening when we make ethical decisions? Do we not do so almost every day of our lives in …show more content…
The first and most profound division in ethical theory is between the claim that it is possible to know moral right from wrong and the denial of that claim. Because this is claim and counter-claim about what we can and cannot know, the position which declares we can know is called ‘cognitivism’ and the contrary position ‘non-cognitivism’.
According to cognitivism, there are objective moral truths which can be known, in a way somewhat analogous to the way in which we know other truths about the world. Statements of moral belief, on this view, can be true or false, just as our statement that something is a certain colour can be true or false. According to the non-cognitivist, by contrast, ‘objective’ assessment of moral belief is not possible. It is all ‘subjective’. There is no truth or falsity to be discovered.
There is only belief, attitude, emotional reaction, and the like. As Hamlet puts it, ‘There is
nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so’.
When non-cognitivism claims that there are only attitudes, its proponents do not usually mean that moral judgments are simply expressions of an individual’s personal preferences.
Advocates of non-cognitivism acknowledge the essentially social nature of morality by invariably arguing that these are group attitudes. They are cultural preferences: attitudes