Issues in Business and Society
Syllabus and Course Outline
Fall Semester, 2008
IDIS 302.101 (Monday, 5:30 - 8:00 PM)
Instructor: Dr. Gordon L. Ziniewicz
Office: Academic Center, Suite 204
Office Hours: By arrangement before or after class.
Office Phone: 410-837-5379
"The wise is one thing, to be acquainted with true judgement,
how all things are steered through all." (Heraclitus Fr. 230)
"Hence also it is no easy task to be good. For in everything
it is no easy task to find the middle, e.g. to find the middle of
a circle is not for every one but for him who knows; so, too, any
one can get angry -- that is easy -- or give or spend money; but
to do this to the right person, to the right extent, at the right
time, with the right motive, and in the right way, that is not for
every one, nor is it easy; wherefore goodness is both rare and laudable
and noble." (Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics)
Course Description and Objectives:
In general, Ethics is both a “subject” and a thoughtful
way of doing things. Theoretical Ethics is that branch of
Philosophy concerned with determining what is right
(with regard to principles and actions) and what is
good (what ends or ideals are worth pursuing
and what values are worth holding). Practical Ethics
is the art or techne (know-how) of figuring out how
to make things better rather than worse with regard to concrete
or actual situations. Business Ethics is a type of applied
ethics. As such, it is concerned with principles applied and
actions taken in the workplace and the boardroom. At the same time,
since business practice is inseparable from the rest of human life,
Business Ethics has to take account of the well-being of
human society and the natural environment.
The purpose of this course will be to grasp ideals and principles
as they have been spelled out in a variety of traditional ethical
systems and to apply these conceptual structures and guidelines
to major problems and dilemmas of doing business and living in society.
Special emphasis will be placed on tools for problem-solving and
decision-making. Some specific goals will be:
- To grasp important historical approaches to ethics.
- To examine assumptions, goals, principles, and actions as they
affect the workplace and society as a whole.
- To gauge the impact of individual and corporate decisions on
human life, society, and the environment.
- To learn strategies or methods for making decisions.
- To evaluate existing aims and ideals, as well as to project
Methods used in class will include brief lectures, class discussions,
prepared scenarios, and group “role-playing.” The format of the
class will be flexible, in order to allow for changes required to
meet the educational needs, standpoints, and experience of individual
students. Students will be encouraged to submit articles, cases,
and situations from newspapers, magazines, and the Internet – as
well as from their own experience.
Official Course Description:
"The course requires students to critically examine the major
ethical issues current in the world of business and society as a
whole. Emphasis is placed on students gaining a practical understanding
of ethical theories and the application of these theories in ethical
decision-making. A primary focus of the course is challenging students
to analyze and resolve the kinds of moral problems and ethical dilemmas
they may face in their own business, professional, or personal lives."
Business Ethics for the 21st Century, by
David M. Adams and Edward W. Maine Mayfield Publishing Company,
Mountain View, CA. Selections to be read will appear in the
course calendar or will be announced at least one class in advance.
Occasionally, additional readings will be assigned.
Handouts (will be distributed and/or posted online -- see Course
Outline for specific links).
- Online Readings. You will be expected to access the Internet
for some of the required readings, as well as helpful reading
guides, question sheets, and chapter outlines.
Students will be required to write a major “reflection paper” or
"thought paper" (as opposed to a “research paper” or “term
paper”). This reflection paper must be typed (at least five pages
double-spaced -- 1250 words minimum). Papers will be graded on
the basis of (1) understanding of factual conditions, ethical aims,
and principles relevant to the topic chosen and (2) ability to think
about and propose solutions to specific ethical problems and situations.
Students will have the opportunity to choose from a list of topics
or to choose a topic of their own (must be approved by the instructor).
In addition, students will be expected to write short case studies,
preliminary workups for a professional code of ethics, and brief
responses to discussion topics or role-playing sessions.
Participation and Attendance:
Participation is required. Learning is a joint effort. Ideas
arise best in the give and take of conversation. Active participation
will greatly enhance one's grade. Students will be expected to
prepare for each class by reading and thinking about the topic assigned.
Students should be ready and eager to pose tough questions and offer
informed insights. Classes will include brief lectures, class discussions,
prepared scenarios, and group “role-playing.” Students will be
expected to prepare “roles” and to evaluate outcomes in these role-playing
sessions. Successful participation presumes regular attendance
and careful preparation for class. Please let the instructor
know if you will not be able to attend (call and leave message or
email). Attendance will be taken almost daily, and participation
will be graded. Participation includes preparation, attentiveness,
asking questions, making comments, and -- in general -- trying to
make the atmosphere in the classroom more conducive to learning.
Prepare for class, and write up questions and comments in advance.
- Short Writing Assignments
- Attendance/Participation -- -3 to +3 points
Please be on time for class. If you are late, you will probably
be marked absent for that day, since attendance will be taken at
the beginning of the class. You may also miss important announcements
and/or assignments. The instructor will not repeat things over and
If you have to leave early (for an appointment), please let the
instructor know in advance, and try to sit close to the door to
avoid disturbing the class when you leave. Be kind to the instructor
and your fellow students.
Do not get up and leave the room while class is in session (with
the exception noted above). If you do leave the classroom, you will
not be readmitted.
No eating or drinking will be allowed in class. Have lunch before
or after class, not while class is in session. Anything which distracts
the class from the process of learning will be counted as a negative
Be open to the views of others, and wait your turn to speak. If
you are having difficulties with understanding what is going on,
please see the instructor for help before the course gets away from
Don’t plagiarize or steal words from the writings of others. Do
your own work. Plagiarism will result in a "0" grade
for the entire affected writing assignment, and serious infractions
will also be reported to the appropriate University of Baltimore
authorities. If you use a text from an outside source (periodical,
book, Internet, etc.), enclose that text with quotation marks and
provide a proper bibliographical reference. If you do a "close
paraphrase" (not a verbatim or word-for-word quote) of statements
that are not your own, provide a proper reference for that as well.
Oct. 6:. Virtue Ethics (concluded):
Self-Realization Theory and Dewey's Pragmatism. Case
Studies and Applications of Ethical Theories to Current
Topics. Review and Overview.
Oct. 13: Test #1.
Part Two: Ethical Issues in Business
Oct. 13: What
Is a Corporation? Multinational Corporations and
Ethical Relativism: Business
Ethics, pp. 47 - 54. Outline.
Read also: Relativism
Oct. 20: Downsizing and Layoffs: Employee
Job Security: Business Ethics, p. 109 - 114.
and Insourcing. Case Studies: Business Ethics,
pp. 116 - 118, 162 - 165.
Oct. 27: Working Conditions and Employee
Rights: Business Ethics, pp. 166 - 176. Outline.
Nov. 3: Discrimination and Affirmative
Action: Business Ethics, pp. 224 - 231. Outline.
Affirmative Action and Its Consequences.
Nov. 10: Women in the Workplace: Business
Ethics, pp. 284 - 290. Outline. Sexual Harassment.
Issues of Women's Rights.
Nov. 17: Advertising and Marketing: Business
Ethics, pp. 354 - 360. Outline.
Presentation of Examples of False or Deceptive Advertising.
Nov. 24: Consumer Safety and Product
Liability: Business Ethics, pp. 411 - 418. Outline.
Dec. 1: Business and the Environment:
Business Ethics, pp. 456 - 461. Issues of Global
Warming. Sustainability and "Buddhist Economics."
Dec. 8: The Moral Dimensions of Information
Technology: Business Ethics, pp. 525 - 536.
Test #2 (Final Exam) -- as
scheduled during exam week.
Direct inquiries and comments to:
Copyright © 1995
- 2012 Gordon L. Ziniewicz
This page last updated 10/14/12
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