Difference between descriptive ethics and normative ethics

The IMEV course covered three prescriptive responses to ethical problems or issues associated with businesses operating away from home. Describe these three ways in detail and apply each of them to the issue of child labour (the RugMark case as well as the child labour case in the shoe industry in Franca, Brazil [DG pp. 408-409] or you can find them in Google).

The first prescriptive response to an MNC’s ethical problem is ‘fundamental international rights’ that was formulated by Donaldson. His principle is to negate any exploitation of personnel on grounds of ethical relativism. For example, it is ethically sound to demand that sweatshop workers in Bangladesh should have the same medical, pension and working hour rights that workers in the US headquarters have. The second option for an ethically conscious MNC to adopt is Norman Bowie’s ‘Distinctive Obligations’. Thirdly, Caux’ Principles suggest that human dignity should be the utmost focus for an MNC’s agenda. It implores business leaders to place stakeholders ahead of shareholders. Globalization with a human face is the pretext behind Caux Principles. If any of these three ethical frameworks were to be followed then MNCs would shed their image as oppressive institutions and be welcomed wherever they seek to expand business operations.

Describe a methodology for rights analysis.

A methodology of Rights Analysis would typically have two components. The first is to ascertain if a claimed right is morally sound. One can use deontological, utilitarian and descriptive ethical standards (ideally a combination of these systems) in claiming the right as legitimate. The last straw for a claimed right that is morally weak is its acceptance under law. If neither of the supports are evident then the claimed right will have to be discarded. The second component of the methodology is finding ways for resolving conflicts between rights. A careful and balanced analysis of the importance of interests will help the process. By prioritizing which rights stand above which others, the hierarchy of rights could aid in resolving conflicts.

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