This book, the second of two volumes dedicated to ethics in social networking and business, presents the future and changing paradigms related to ethics, and morality in our interconnected society.
This volume analyzes advanced topics, including new technologies, transhumanism and uberization, to provide a more complex, shared and collective environment into why business ethics is essential for managing risks and uncertainties.
The Ethics in Social Networking and Business series is the result of a cross-integration of real experiences (from IBM, society and the Rotary Club), transdisciplinary works in decision making, and advances at the boundaries of several scientific fields.
1. Evolution and Impact of Advanced Technologies on Humankind and Business.
2. Ethics and Transhumanism: Control using Robotics and Artificial Intelligence.
3. Ethics and the New Business and Labor Organizations.
4. Ethics and Social Networking.
5. Ethics: Misuses and Whistleblowing in Big Data and the Web.
6. The Underlying Mechanisms to Improve Ethics: Virtues, Laws and Cultures.
7. Uses of Ethics: Between Virtue, Humanism and Illiteracy.
8. Ethics, Temporality and Spirituality.
9. Ethics: Perspectives and the Future.
In this introduction, we recall some theory and practices introduced in Volume 1 [MAS 17a]. The objective is to have a common understanding about these practices either in the enterprises or in the organizations leading to the corporate culture specific to the various populations in some different countries.
Furthermore, we may find some weaknesses and shortcomings that we will try to refine or enhance in the second volume, in order to better face the new challenges of our environment.
I.1. Main principles and definitions used in Volume 1
The first book (Volume 1 [MAS 17a]) is dedicated to the conventional approach of ethics, as developed by the ancient Greeks: due to our rationality, we keep looking for items, facts, approaches, causes and implementations that govern the design and governance of a new business world.
We have focused on the operationalization of business ethics either in the Rotary or in industry and organizations. To summarize our approach and to avoid any misunderstanding, in the future, we will consider the following concepts.
- - Ethics: ethics is part of the philosophy related to the meaning of all the aspects of human behavior. Theoretical ethics considered in the book is a part of what is called normative ethics (based on the notions going from right to wrong). It is supremely intellectual and refers to personal consciousness, as a branch of philosophy, rational in nature. It applies to any human population behavior.
As often recalled, it is an alternative each time no laws, no rules and procedures are available. However, it is of help when developing codes of conducts, rules and principles (norms) by which executives and others in positions of responsibility will judge and guide meaningful decision-making.
- - Business ethics: business ethics (BE) is also called corporate ethics or professional ethics. It is a subset of ethics, but that used most often in the usual fields of activities.
BE covers the ethical and moral principles and problems that arise in a business environment. It is expressed through written and unwritten codes of principles and values: it governs decisions and actions within an organization. In most cases, BE makes the difference between right and wrong and choosing to do what is right according to the consciousness of the decision maker.
To be more precise and to make it easier to understand BE, we will provide a rule that we have applied across the two volumes: according to the level of the structure to be considered, we denote personal ethics (the kind of ethics used on a microscale such as very small SME, entrepreneurship, small team work, etc.), professional ethics (on an intermediate scale such as a production unit, etc.), and corporate ethics (on a macroscale such as a large company, etc.). All three levels are intricately related as in a fractal structure [MAS 06].
I.1.1. Comment: the different kinds of ethics
When specialists or philosophers try to classify ethics, they generally use a qualitative clustering, based on psychological, mental, or philosophical variables. Therefore, when analyzing the available documentation, in most case studies, one considers three or four different types of ethics [YAN 14].
Here, as an example, we will consider four main ethical segmentations based on individualism, utilitarianism, Kantianism or virtues, relevant to an action or decision that can be seen as ethical or unethical:
- 1) Individualism: individualism states that the main goal of a business is to maximize profit for a part or all of the stakeholders..or customers. The objective is to act in order to maximize a profit. In doing so, the executive only chooses to keep the cheaper and more efficient solutions to boost some profits. This is what happens, for example, with big department stores. The damages can be significant as they can harm the producers and providers, and develop non-sustainable practices. Ultimately, this a non-ethical behavior.
2) Utilitarianism: utilitarianism's main intent is to make everyone happy. Here specialists consider the societal environments that are developing in the area of hedonism and eudemonism. This was developed in Business Ethics Volume 1, but also in [MAS 15a].
Utilitarianism theory consists of bringing happiness or justice to everyone and acts in the interest of the overall good. When doing so, people put their cooperation in jeopardy, but are trying to make the best from a bad situation.
- 3) Kantianism: Kantianism is based on making rational decisions and allowing others to do the same for themselves. There is no lying or deceit of any kind or the use of people without their rational consent; also, people must act from a sense of duty in order to be sure to go the right way. This consists of treating the situation as a mere means but rather globally and always as an end. This is seen as a non-ethical approach, with regard to Kantian theory, when the people need to be given the necessary knowledge to act only on their own rational being. So deviances, in the behaviors can be observed, if the consequences of actions that make a decision right or wrong are not evaluated. It is also non-ethical, from Kant's perspective, when a decision process, is conducted against, or in a clear violation for, the motive and consciousness of the decision maker.
- 4) Virtue theory: virtue theory focuses on four main characteristics: courage, honesty, self-control and fairness. (We have great similarities with the cardinal virtues as defined by Plato: courage, justice, prudence and temperance.) Therefore, generally speaking, a business must act while keeping these characteristics in mind. They must be willing to take a stand for the right ideas and actions.
Virtue theorists recommend being honest in the mutual agreements and relationships with both employees and customers. Also, people must work hard, produce quality, have good ideas and should be fair in their practices. Finally, people are required to be courageous in their actions they merely conform to the nominal security.
For the sake of simplicity, in our book we did not consider such philosophical classifications. Several times we said it was necessary to use our best judgment according to our consciousness considering the following three factors: lack of skills, ignorance and greed. It is a kind of "social" ethics that causes the death of a civilization, or any type of organization, and inevitably leads to exclusivity. In the framework of the Rotary, or even in social networking or businesses, it may cover most of the encountered situations.
I.1.2. Objectives of this book
Volume 1 presented an overview of what is happening in the working world. Theory, practice and current recommendations were developed through examples issued from the Rotary or industrial companies.
In it we spoke primarily of our experience in ethics and BE. We described some notions of complexity and evolution, and we could better understand why and how ethics is becoming essential for the sustainability of our systems.
Moreover, we saw how BE can be implemented in current enterprises according to a corporate and societal culture, the geographical context, etc. Thus, in this book, we are both in the present and in the short-term horizon.
BE is linked to system complexity and evolution theory. In its more mundane context, BE expresses the fact that responsible people and executives are afraid of losing control of complex phenomena. It is associated with the need to preserve a situation in the face of apparently irreversible changes. This is the reason why "integration" of BE becomes so important.
Also, concerning the intrinsic system complexity and the growing complexity of nature: we stated in this book that simplexification was necessary to manage, monitor and control complex systems. I will add that simplexification enables us to understand complexity. Indeed, as often said in the Advanced Technology Group, within IBM EMEA, the simple modeling of a complex system is able to generate 50% of the solution about a given problem, while re-engineering provides the remaining part of the solution: everything starts with an organization, everything ends with another.
In this book, some people will find that a lot of things are wrong. This may be true, but some of them will be useful: it is a positive statement, since the whole content is not just a survey and review of conventional and various integrated processes.
Finally, concerning learning principles and the need for diversity developed in the book, we will recall two points:
- - it is only the one doing nothing who is never wrong;
- - in a complex situation, we do not learn efficiently if we are simply trying not to commit any error.
I.2. Main changes and trends in ethics: toward new ways of thinking
I.2.1. Paradigm changes
In this book, we consider that the world is changing. We are living in a very dynamic environment following Moore's Law. The future will again impose a paradigm shift.
This is mainly related to the new context, with the impact of new technologies, advanced sciences and societal evolution. Thus, we will talk about the extension of concepts related to the dissemination and intrusive impact of the advanced sciences.
Indeed, ethics (BE) will now manifest itself along several directions:
The new technologies considered and described in Chapter 1 are related to the general concept of NBIC. NBIC refer to Nanotechnologies,...