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400-Level Senior Seminar Course  
UI-400      Business and Ethics
Catalog Description

A study of the ethical questions that arise in the context of doing business in modern society.

Course Content

This course involves a detailed study of the ethical problems that arise in business, along with methods and techniques for analyzing and evaluating proposed solutions. The course is divided into four sections. The first is an overview of ethical concepts and theories, and of the importance and role of ethics in business. Distinctions are drawn between the legal and ethical dimensions of business, and between consequentialist and non-consequentialist theories in ethics.


The second section examines the concept of responsibility, with emphasis on the view that discussions of responsibility make sense only within the context of well defined social roles. Different kinds of social roles are examined, as is the claim that the activity of business is itself a social role. Two different types of social responsibility often ascribed to business, beneficence and non-malevolence, are examined.


The third section examines problems of honesty and deception in business. The wrongness of deception itself is examined, along with specific problems involving deception in accounting, finance, management and marketing. Problems surrounding employee rights, privacy and whistleblowing are also examined.


The fourth section examines problems of economic and social justice. Theories of distributive justice and the role of business in achieving it are presented, along with broader questions of social justice and affirmative action.

Nature of Course

The course is discussion oriented rather than traditional lecture, and students will be expected to do a good deal of reading in preparation for class. Much of the reading material is analytical and argumentative, and students will be called on to analyze and discuss the reading material in class. The course requires a significant amount of writing, involving the preparation of case studies and a written research project. At least six hours of study time per week, apart from class time, should be devoted to this course. Essay questions are a component on all exams.

Student Expectations

Students are expected to read assigned texts, attend class regularly, participate in class discussion, and participate in a group debate on a question of ethics and business policy. Students are also expected to analyze at least five case studies involving ethical issues in business and complete a 10-15 page interdisciplinary research project. Students will demonstrate achievement on all examinations.


Senior standing and completion of all lower division University Studies courses, or consent of instructor.



Credit Hours 3