Ethical theories kept simple!

hello my name is Paul Kirkwood and I’m a tutor at Kaplan financial I’m here today to talk to you about ACCA p1 in particular ethical theories and my main aim today is to try and keep things simple in terms of an introduction the ACCA p1 paper has ethical theories in a great number of the individual papers it’s important that you’re comfortable with ethical theories and it really can be your friend but I know from my experience when I was starting to prep for this paper as a tutor I found the ethical theories chapter a little bit daunting the terminology put me off so as I said I’m here today to really try and focus on keeping things simple what you need to know for the exam itself okay and a little bit more detail here are the key things were going to cover just two main things I’m going to review the core ethical theories in the ACCA p1 syllabus and try and explain them in simple terms there are three they were going to cover today that’s absolutism in relativism we’re going to extend that and think about deontological and teleological views and we’ll also think about Kohlberg cmd’ theory which is my favorite for each of them I want to try and build a little bit of practical exam confidence as well so I want to see how they’ve been examined how the marks are split and how we can keep it simple in our answers that’s the idea but let’s start with a question and first of all who do you think here looks the most trustworthy is it money or is it Manby take your time mani looks at jolly fellow looks to be enjoying himself but I think man B looks looks a professional type figure so is it money is it man B you decide well if you chose man B that’s Bernard Madoff who’s currently serve in an extended jail term for fraud money laundering in the United States if you chose money that’s my dad okay I trust him but you know sometimes it’s difficult to judge books by the covers for one other phrase where someone is moral whether someone does behave ethically it’s very difficult to see from simply looking at their faces let’s try another question let’s start thinking about you let’s say you were in the office and you walked up a stairwell and you found some money line on the on the floor let’s say here it was a pound a shiny pound looking up at you what would you do in those circumstances would it be air would you leave it alone would it be babe where’d you pick it up and spend it see would you pick it up and give it a charity perhaps D would you pick it up and hand it in at reception or E would it be something else take a moment what would you do well when I asked this in in class I get a range of answers I get some people who tell me they would leave it alone it’s only a pound it might be stuck to the flow I’m not picking that up I get others who would say I’ll spend it okay remarkably here a high proportion you see they would spend it but let’s leave that there for the moment I get a number who would say they would give it to charity and some who say they would hand it in and some who do something else but what happens if it changed slightly what happens if I said it was ten pounds that you found on the floor what would you do now would you leave it alone now would you pick it up and spend it would you hand it in for me for a pound I probably pick up the pound I’d like to think I’d give it the charity but I’d probably end up putting it in my pocket and spending it ten pounds however that’s different ten pounds from my point of view that that seems a lot like a lot more money and I probably handed in it reception so simply the circumstances of the situation has changed my actual ethical behavior my moral decision for one of the better phrase some of you may be saying no Paul I’ll do the same I always hand it in or I’ll always spend it others things will be more relative if we said it was a thousand pounds would that change your decision would you now do something different same options what would you do me with a thousand pounds I probably inform the police so three different amounts of money the same circumstances really but three different outcomes so may be interesting but but why am I telling you this well we’re going to talk about ethical theories but they simply are theories in terms of actual ethical behavior that depends on many factors it could depend on the individual and that’s what we’re focusing on today we’re going to focus on ethical theories and how they can impact individuals how they are applied by individuals how individuals think but there are other factors if we were putting this into

practice we haven’t got time today to deal with these areas of the syllabus but it could be the circumstances of the situation it could be the intensity the moral intensity of the situation ethics is fascinating and the more you drill into the subject area the more noble personal I think gain and benefit you’ll you’ll get from this syllabus area but we must stick to the theories so today we’re going to cover three key theories and start with absolutism and relativism well if I was an individual and I was taking an absolutist stance you could say that I would follow one set of moral rules I have a set of moral rules in my mind and whatever circumstances came up in front of me I would use those rules decide on the most appropriate behavior I believe those rules shouldn’t change over time and I believe those rules should be common to all that’s an absolutist approach I could use the word dogmatic to describe an absolutist now hopefully there’s nothing here that really is difficult to understand maybe the word absolutism is but the actual explanation is very very simple I’ll come back to that word dogmatic just in a moment let’s look at the other side relativist now a relativist would believe that there’s many sets of acceptable rules in society and those rules can change depending on situations are dependent on time so the rules can change over time so these are two very very different positions and in an exam it can actually be quite straight or would to pick someone who’s adopting an absolutist position compared to someone who’s adopting a relativist position if I’m a relativist I could say that you’re adopting that pragmatic position so what about those two words dogmatic and pragmatic well absolutist we could say our dogmatic in their nature they would believe that there are some absolute truths that should be followed a set of rules a pragmatic person would believe that actually you know there are no absolute rules and each situation that we come to we must assess take back to the coin on the stay some of you and the money on the stare some of you said no no ah that money’s not mine I’m going to leave it there I will not pick it up I don’t care whether it’s one pounds ten pounds or a thousand pounds that’s my position you’re following an absolutist path me I was much more relativist it was only a pound it was ten pounds I’m going to hand it in I think the situation changed when it was a thousand pounds so that’s absolutism in relativism but let’s now see how its examined let me just read through the question so distinguish between absolutists and relativist approaches to ethics and critically evaluate the behavior of Shazia though the accountant who accepted the bonus for her silence using both of these perspectives that was from December 2010 and it was worth 10 marks as you can see the mark allocation was broken down and actually there were four marks for looking at and distinguishing the two types of ethical position absolutism and relativism so by using some of the words and phrases that I showed you on the previous slides you could get up to four marks an absolutist view doesn’t change over time whereas a relativist will be more situational you then get marks reply in those perspectives to the situation in front of you he’s a little extract from the answer and again I won’t go through the whole lot but when I’m very much in Keane for you to keep it simple so when I look at model answers sometimes they scare me sometimes it’s a lens sometimes the terminology used but you must try and keep it simple let’s just read through a little bit of it an absolutist ethical stance is when it’s assumed that there is an unchanging set of ethical principles well that makes sense to me that’s just what we said in our earlier slide written in a sentence which should always be or be obeyed regardless of the situation or any other pressures or factors that may be present again it’s just using the words that I put on the slide previously and wrapping them together into a couple of sentences now the next line typically described in Universalist ways that makes my head hurt whenever I see some again the answer that makes my head hurt makes my scratch my head I can cross it out maybe not literally but I don’t worry about it what you must do is look at what you do know and not worry about what you don’t there’s ten marks in this question if you can get eight good marks you’ll be passing with flying colors keep it simple don’t worry about the bits which

you don’t understand look at the bits you do absolutists ethics tend to be expressed in terms such as it’s always right – it’s never right – or it’s always wrong – again I can understand that that makes sense to me and I can take that away build it into my knowledge banks and if a similar question came up I could use that to help me construct my answer simple terms simple language will get you through keep it simple you can read through the relativist section yourself so let me move on now to our next ethical theory and really we’re building on we’re building on the absolutist and relativist principles that we just set up we’re going to look at deontological and teleological but to do so again the words are awful aren’t they to do so let’s use an example let’s say you’re taking a child to the dentist for some work you know the work will hurt and as you’re walking I’ve got two daughters by the way and this this happened to me my youngest daughter at the time she was about 4 she had a tooth which was was coming out and she needed to go to the dentist just to get that tooth room Oliver baby teeth and I knew it would hurt but didn’t wanna tell her and she looked up into my eyes and she said daddy will this hurt or what would you do if you were in my position your child’s looking up daddy will this hurt do you say yes no and why well when I asked this in class some people say oh no you’ve got to tell your child you got to tell your child that it will hurt you’ve got to what why I asked well if they do fee if you lie to them then they won’t trust you in the future well they’re making that decision on the outcome they’re saying that no no you can’t lie to your child because in the future they then wouldn’t trust you and that looking to the outcome is teleological you’re making your decision on the outcomes the quality of the outcomes some people say no no you’ve got to say no because when you get the your daughter in the in the dentist chair she might not open our mouths and it’d be worse than the prize our mouths open to try and get the tooth out and if you know my daughter’s that’s exactly what I was worried about but again I’m thinking of the outcome then I need to get my daughter’s tooth out to do so I’m going to tell a little white lie I’m going to lie here to make sure the outcome is favourable the tooth comes out I’ll deal with the the future later so again that’s teleological now some people may be sickly well you’re all wrong it’s simply wrong to lie you’re not looking at the outcomes there you’re looking at the actual decision itself the action itself and to look at the morality of the action in its own right is deontological so a deontological perspective looks at the action itself teleological makes an ethical decision based on the outcomes the quality of the outcomes obviously what did I do in these circumstances my daughter looked up said you know daddy will this hurt and I said well you better ask your mother and I’m still in trouble for that at the moment but remember keep it simple where you’re asked a question on deontological and teleological approaches you’re likely to have to give a little brief explanation of what so keep it simple now I didn’t write the words they’re not mine don’t blame me but if I was asked to explain deontological approach to ethics I’d use the words non-consequentialist theory I’m sorry but I would I’d learn it because it is a non-consequentialist theory the decision of whether an action is moral or not is not dependent on the consequences I like the next two points the moral right or wrong is not dependent on the outcome therefore it’s the means which it which are more important than the ends now you could you could start delving into the works of Kant at this stage and look at his Maxim’s I’m keeping it simple okay as soon as you start drilling into the Maxim’s especially trying to explain them in your own words you can get muddled up and can get very confused and I’m keeping it simple I think this is enough for you to comfortably get through a question on this area if we look at the other side of the fence where the outcome tribes a moral decision that is teleological that is a consequentialist theory the ends are more important than the means it’s the outcomes which drive whether an action is moral or not and that’s the ontological and teleological how is it examined this is from a few years ago this question a brilliant question on child labor mr. Hogg you had to assess their belief that child labor employing shelled labor was always ethically wrong and you had to look at it from deontological and teleological

perspectives one of my most favorite questions again there was a substantial mark allocation nine and the starting point was being able to explain demonstrate that you understand the two terms well the ontological is a non-consequentialist Theory teleological is a consequentialist theory action drives the action itself drives whether the action the assessment of the action drives whether it’s moral or not it’s the quality of the outcomes and I can get my easy marks and then you apply it to the case itself in the question it says that mr. Hogg believes that employing child labour is always ethically wrong that implies to me always you can’t justify no matter what the outcomes well that suggests he is deontological but you had to assess it from both sides so he’s a extract from the answer and it’s got a some of my monk most most favorite lines in any answer written it’s a brilliant answer but as you read through look at what you know not what you don’t know keep it simple so mr. Hogg is demonstrating a deontological position on child labor I’m telling the examiner that I understand and I can assess mr. Hogg’s position he’s saying that it’s always wrong I’m just using words from the actual question as well as probably in the scenario he’s adopting an absolutist rather than an a relativist or situational stance deontological is aligned to absolutism they’re very similar so I can make that statement and I understand that the deontological view is that the act is right or wrong in itself and does not depend upon any other considerations again I understand that a simple language ethics is not difficult as long as you keep it simple if child labor is wrong in one situation it follows that it’s wrong in all situations well yeah I think I can get gnats all right and then things start to go wrong because of the Kantian principle of generalizability in the categorical imperative war one earth does that mean you have my permission to cross that line out if you wish if you under standard fabulous if not don’t focus on it focus on what you know not what you don’t know what you understand not what you don’t if you understand 90% of the answer you will pass with flying colors because child labor is wrong in some situations it must be assumed to be wrong in all situations again I think I can go with that again I’ll let you read through the teleological perspective yourself remember that’s from December 2008 at brilliant answer but focus on what you know focus on what you understand not and what you don’t that means we can move on to perhaps my most favorite theory this is Kohlberg cmd’ theory and what Colberg did was he wanted to understand how people made moral decisions so it’s the cognitive moral development theory or sometimes I’ve seen this written as the cognitive moral reason and theory so how people make moral decisions and what he did was he took a series of dial Emma’s and gave them to children and the children then gave a response and from those responses he developed his theory so what I’d like to do is just give you a few moments just to read through the Heinz dilemma and come up with an opinion Kohlberg wrote this in 1963 therefore the numbers you might want to add a hundred thousand to each of the number so maybe two hundred is $200,000 2,000 becomes two million what do you think should the husband have done that it’s not asking what you would have done should the husband have done that again when I set this in class I get a range of answers it can get quite heated some people say well no no no course he shouldn’t have stolen the drug that’s against the law it’s wrong what would we have if everyone went went around stealing others of course he should have stolen the drug that’s what people would have expected him to do it’s his wife for goodness sake some people would have said well yeah of course he should human life is more important than property others know he probably gets sent to prison my favorite ever line was was from a child I read this in her in a probably on the internet somewhere originally and one child said remember he said this these dynamics for children from nine to two teens and a child said well he might want to see if his his wife if he needs her to look after their children but he

doesn’t have to keep save his wife if he wants to marry someone younger and better-looking only a child could get away with a statement like that one of my favorites let’s move on in terms of Kohlberg the theory provides three levels the preconventional level the conventional level and the post conventional level I put a word or a couple of words for each level just to give us a signpost especially for questions with the preconventional level I think of self someone who’s reasoning at this level one preconventional level may be thinking of themselves now each of the levels has two stages stage one here and stage two stage one is called obedience and Punishment let’s focus on stage one at this most basic of Kohlberg levels both most basic of stages it’s like children doing what they’re told I’ve got a three-year-old now who just loves her fingers perfect size for sticking it into three pin plug sockets and she likes doing it however now she doesn’t she follows daddy’s rules why doesn’t she do it says daddy says no taking a little bit further why doesn’t she stick a finger in the three pin plugs especially one there because she knows she’ll get punished she’ll get put on the naughty step so people making a reason and that I’m going to make this decision to avoid punishment or simply to appear blindly is stage one take not a little further if I’m making a decision to gain personal reward personal gain that would be stage two I’m thinking to myself but I get personal reward where I live there’s twenty houses around the square and there’s so many young children are everywhere I teach a lot on Saturdays and you know sometimes I’m quite glad to be teaching on a Saturday because it can get very chaotic until about four o’clock at four o’clock all the children stop playing stop shouting and they go up to their parents and they give them a hug and this say I love you why what happens at four o’clock in our square that suddenly makes children reason that they should be good well it’s the bells the ice-cream bells sound and all the children realize if we could we’re going to get a reward therefore they start behaving themselves so that’s stage two and you can see how that would apply in business as well car to you that a direct em perhaps making a decision that would be best for his own personal remuneration so I can apply it to business as well as my basic examples level two is conventional and the word I use to describe the conventional level is conformity conformity with rules or doing what others do again two stages first one is interpersonal Accord and conformity copy and others again in my square there’s actually a strange number of twins in that square very strange must be something in the water but as you see it with twins and they copied each other one person picks up a certain tie the other has to have it the same with different sets of twins one sets of twins is wearing a blue jumper the other go inside to get their blue jumpers on they copied each other they make their reason what is right it must be what others are doing but again you can take that into a business context and think about don’t rock the board don’t make allegation just just just do what everyone else is doing all the crowd bit like sheep so level two has stage three which is people making moral decisions based on copy and others following others expectations Stage four is probably where I think I am and I’m not happy about it I’d like to be higher but someone at stage four must follow rules for the good of society if we don’t follow the rules in what will we have anarchy I mean this reminds me of how this worries me when I think about the suffragette movement of 100 years ago where women in the UK didn’t have the right to vote and therefore they were breaking the law in order to try and further their cause does this mean that a hundred years ago if I was around then I would have had the view that no no no of course women shouldn’t thought because it’s against the law that’s stage 4 you follow the rules in place in society I’d like to be a little bit higher in my moral reasoning and level 3 keeping that idea of the women’s right to vote in mind starts to think about just what’s right and maybe in society we need people at this level level 3 who think that maybe the laws aren’t right in themselves maybe the laws need to change and so we’ve got people who can think above just following the rules and think about at stage 3 individual rights and social

contract because surely the law should serve society and should be there to uphold the right thing so people who think at level 3 stage 5 and maybe got a challenge norms challenge current guidance in society to hopefully improve society in the future maybe someone like Gandhi would be operating at stage 5 stage 6 the highest level of moral reasoning would be someone who is free from all external influences just almost in a zen-like state thinking about what is right and I’ve really struggled really struggled to come up with any examples of of stage 6 I was in class once and someone shouted out what about Yoda and you know that’s probably the best example of someone operating at stage six I’ve ever seen but please please please do not put do not put a Jedi Knight in your example but okay I don’t think they’ll probably get the joke in Astoria I think it’s true but let’s leave it so what I put on screen there is each of the stages and yeah there’s some difficult words and yes you might say well do I have to learn the stages I’m sorry there’s six more stages there it’s not a lot to learn and as long as you’ve got a basic understanding of Wick of the an explanation of each level you’ll be fine core bugs lovey Kohlberg is a wonderful theory how is it examined now it’s been examined in a number of ways this is the most typical where you get 12 marks the first six marks are simply for explaining each of Kohlberg’s three levels of moral development come on you’re going to get half a mark for even identifying it then a further one and a half are explained in the level this is okay keeping it simple will mean you can get six marks without a huge amount of effort and then the application will the three levels yes there might be some blurring at the edges but you really should be able to have a goal and usually at least one if not two are a reasonably straightforward to identify so let’s see how this was answered and again I use the answers in the the back of the it sorry the examiners answers to really help me learn to build my knowledge forget the first paragraph because the first paragraph really sets a scene in my answer I wouldn’t have an introductory paragraph the exam question asks me to explain the levels and I’d get straight into it subheading preconventional and then I’d use the words below at the preconventional level of moral reasoning morality is conceived in terms of rewards punishments and instrumental motivation so in your own interests those demonstrate an intolerance of norms and regulations in preference for self serve and motives are typically preconventional now that’s not the way I’d probably write it but I understand it and I’d be able to formulate my own answer using those themes for one-and-a-half marks ethics is not difficult if you keep it simple and you can use the examiners answers time and time again to build up answers that make sense to you just at the bottom there you’ve got the example of the application Sarita one of the characters Vernon them and just look at how its constructed Vernon Thames is exhibited a preconventional level of moral development telling the examiner that you understand not sitting on the fence going for it he pointed to his personal loss of bornus personal loss a bonus thinking of themselves if I had to give a stage which I wouldn’t unless I was specifically asked he’s obviously operating at the stage to self reward well these were the objectives that we had for this session we wanted to review the core ethical theories and we have absolutism and relativism deontological and teleological as well as Kohlberg cmd’ theory hopefully we’ve kept it in simple terms but I think even more importantly was the need to build a little bit of practical exam confidence in this area this subject is is highly examinable this subject is likely to come up in most papers to some extent and it should be your friend best of luck