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What is morality? Morality can be defined as the principles concerning whether an action is right or wrong, or, good or bad. It is important to note that, morality can be socially or even culturally objective. For example, many Americans view abortion as a difficult decision that must be made by an expecting mother for the better good of her life and the potential life of her baby, yet others see abortion as illegally murdering an unborn child. On another hand, China’s views on abortion are on the complete opposite side of the spectrum. It is not until recently that China abandoned its One Child Policy (Jian, 2013).
When discussing the moral good of one’s decisions philosophers utilize three main ethical theories to assess a choice or action. These ethical theories are; John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism, Immanuel Kant’s Deontology, and Aristotle’s Virtue Ethics. Although many times these theories may come to the same conclusion, they arrive there by in different paths.
Aristotle’s theory of Virtue Ethics revolves around building habits of good behavior that we develop through practice (Fisher, 2015). With Virtue Ethics, you should strive to live at the Golden Mean. In other words, we should ensure that our actions or behaviors are not at the extreme of excess or deficiencies, that they simply fall somewhere near the middle.
The Deontology theory revolves around one’s moral duty. Kant’s theory insists that we should never treat people as a tool that we utilize for our own benefit. People should be treated as beings that have value in and of themselves (Fisher, 2015).
Utilitarianism by John Stuart Mill is a theory that ensures the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people. In this theory, the most morally correct answer to a problem or dilemma is the outcome that brings the greatest happiness to the largest group. With this said, the morally correct choice may not be good for one or some and could have very severe consequences for the minority.
One ethical dilemma faced by the Starbucks Corporation that I would like to discuss is the rising price associated with ethically sourced coffee beans. Although I do not believe this is morally just, if we are to only utilize the Utilitarianism Ethical Theory to decide what the Starbucks Corporation should do in this situation then we must first review the facts; 22,000 stores in 66 different countries, 30,000,000 customers a week, 7,000 hand crafted beverage and/or food offerings to customers every minute of everyday (Starbucks, 2015). If we are to only evaluate what is good for the greatest number of people we could conclude that serving the same product for less would provide the greatest good for the greatest number of people.
If Starbucks were to remove itself from the many extremely expensive extra programs that it is a leader of within the coffee production business worldwide, then the overhead costs for the coffee they purchase would be greatly reduced. This could translate into reduced prices at the cash register and subsequently affect more people in a positive manner, providing a greater utility to many more customers than coffee farmers worldwide.
Jian, M. (May 21, 2013). China’s Brutal One-Child Policy. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/22/opinion/chinas-brutal-one-child-policy.html?_r=0
Starbucks. (2015). Starbucks Financial Performance. Retrieved from: https://news.starbucks.com/news/starbucks-2015-annual-meeting-of-shareholders