PH308 Business Ethics

for SP 2013

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Mission Statement: Park University provides access to a quality higher education experience that prepares a diverse community of learners to think critically, communicate effectively, demonstrate a global perspective and engage in lifelong learning and service to others.

Vision Statement: Park University, a pioneering institution of higher learning since 1875, will provide leadership in quality, innovative education for a diversity of learners who will excel in their professional and personal service to the global community.


PH 308 Business Ethics


SP 2013 HOB


Vlahos, Clare


Senior Adjunct Professor


M.A. University of Iowa
M.PH. University of Kansas
PH.D. University of Kansas

Office Hours

Arranged and after class

Daytime Phone

816 478-9019


Semester Dates

January 14, 2013 - May 10, 2013

Class Days


Class Time

10:00 - 10:50 AM

Credit Hours


Tom L Beauchamp, ed.  Ethical Theory and Business, Ninth Edition, New Jersey:  Prentice-Hall, 2009. ISBN 0205169082

Mary C Gentile, Giving Voice to Values, Trilateral, 2012, ISBN 9780300181562

Textbooks can be purchased through the Parkville Bookstore

Additional Resources:

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Course Description:
An inquiry into the role of ethics in business situations.  Topics considered include: the justice of various economic systems, corporate rate responsibility, conflict of interest, government regulation versus self-regulation, the ethics of investment, responsible advertising, discrimination, affirmative action, and sexual harassment.  Emphasis is put upon the application of ethical theory to specific cases with attention to the sometimes conflicting demands of profit maximization and societal well-being.  3:0:3

Educational Philosophy:
This course will expose students to a variety of ideas, many of which require criticism, because they are incompatible with other concepts in the course.  The course will offer an opportunity for students to respond through active use and evaluation of new material.  Students should appreciate the necessity and limits of reason's role in evaluating fundamental values.  Successful completion of the course should permit students to clarify and support their personal conceptual commitments.

Learning Outcomes:
  Core Learning Outcomes

  1. Discuss ethics in general, with an analysis of various approaches
  2. Analyze issues as they appear in the business arena.
  3. Recognize the strengths, weaknesses and fallacies of particular ethical arguments.
  4. Outline the particulars of vocabulary, assumptions and points of difficulty in ethical arguments.
  5. Identify ethical behaviors in both personal and professional situations.
  6. Distinguish and develop the requisite skills for making ethical decisions and engaging in transactions ethically.
  7. Research the dynamics and concerns of any given issue, speaking and writing knowledgeably about one particular issue in business ethics.
  8. Recognize and assess factors in the multicultural, socio-economic, legal, and political environments in which moral issues impacting organizations arise.

  Instructor Learning Outcomes
  1. Evaluate arguments relating business ethics to individual and social ethics.
  2. Compare business ethics as understood by the three major ethical theories.
  3. Distinguish business practices as just and as functional.
  4. Evaluate the justification of distributive ethics.
  5. Define the moral limits of truth in advertising.
  6. Contrast claims of universal and relative value in business practices.
Core Assessment:

PH 308 Core Assessment Assignment

The main portion of the semester grade will derive from student presentations of the various issues in their complexity, and a derivative paper arguing an ethical position on one issue.  

Semester Project and Paper 

It is a truism that one learns by doing. This is certainly true in the application of ethical theory. To facilitate learning about ethics and its role and function in business issues, the major portion of the grade will derive from the handling of one specific ethical issue related to business. 

In coordination with the instructor, students will present to the class a topic concerned with business ethics, with the expectation that they will teach the topic: review the text material; draw in current news and current debate, as appropriate; raise the questions which emerge from such news and debate; present the various prominent arguments, identify their proponents and highlight the most important points; critique the arguments, giving reasons for perceived weaknesses, and so on.  

The text may be the beginning point, but it is expected that students will look further to discover more which might enhance the discussion. At minimum, the student will facilitate a class discussion of the questions raised by the chosen topic. The presentation will be strengthened, however, with the structuring of a debate, or a mock “battle of wits”, or some exercise for the class to experience the complexity and challenge of the topic. 

Any materials generated for class dissemination or for display will strengthen the presentation. Any local resources the student discovers may be utilized in the presentation. 

Finally, out of this experience, the student will write a 10-12 page paper which functions both as a research paper and a position piece. If the presentation is well prepared, the student will have the research portion accomplished and need only put it in written form. From there, the student is challenged to take a stand on the topic: What is your position? Why? On what do you base your position? What are the issues? Who is in the fray? Who stands to gain? Remember that while opinion certainly enters into any position, the essay is expected to be a carefully reasoned and clearly explained argument. The point is not whether or not the instructor agrees with the position, but whether it is clearly and solidly articulated utilizing the language and tools of business ethics. 

Specific standards about style, research resources, formatting and such will be determined by the instructor.


Link to Class Rubric

Class Assessment:
·        Two in-class examinations.
 ·        Class attendance
·        A research project of 10 to 12 pages. The topic must be approved in advance by the instructor.  See Core Assessments.  The paper must cite all information that is not general public knowledge.  A bibliography does not substitute for citations or footnotes.  At least five published sources must be cited.  Internet sources may be used in addition if there is an identified author.  Insufficient or no citations will result in a grade reduction of at least one letter grade.
 ·        A presentation in class based on the above research.
 ·        Regular class discussion based on the reading assignments. 

          Several position papers on current topics.
          Presentations on current issues in business.

Grades will be based on the accumulation of points.  Each of the two examinations containing objective, short answer questions, and an essay will be worth 80 points.  Each examination will cover the material on one-half of the course.  Class attendance, participation,and several position papers  will be worth 40 points.  The research paper and oral presentation will be worth 100 points for a total of 300 points. A = 270 – 300 points B = 240 – 269 points C = 210 – 239 points D = 180 – 209 points F = 179 or below. A research paper with insufficient or no footnotes/ citations will be reduced one entire letter grade. Plagiarism will result in an F for the paper.

Late Submission of Course Materials:
Late assignments will receive a grade reduced by 5% which will increase to 10% after one week from the due date.

Classroom Rules of Conduct:
Assignments are due the date listed on the syllabus.  Students should contact the instructor in advance if unable to attend class.  Pagers and/or cell phone: Pagers and cell phones are banned during the class period.

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:





1/14 - 25

Philosophical Ethics:                                          
Reading:  Beauchamp 1-40, 43, Gentile Ch 4-5
Lecture:  Philosophy, Values, and Society
Video:  What is Philosophy?; Doing the Right Thing on the Issues
Assignment:  Discuss requirements and syllabus                                                


1/28 - 2/8

Theories of Business Ethics

Reading:  Text, ch.2: 46, 53, 79, 120, 122

Lecture:  Social and Business Values
Video:  Store Wars 
Assignment:  Research topics investigation                                              


2/11 - 22

Truth in Advertising
Reading:  Text, ch.5: 269, 263, 276, 313, 318
Lecture:  Truth in Business
Video:  Consuming Kids


Assignment:  Student research topics due



2/25 - 3/8

3/11- 15

Business and Environment 
Reading:  Text, ch.8: 456, 462, 506, 509
Lecture:  Moral Obligation and Nonhuman Life
Assignment:  Student prospectus and annotated research bibliography due
Review and Examination  



3/18 - 29

Ethical Relativism
Reading:  Text, ch.9: 536, 540, 553, 585, 592
Lecture:  Relativism and International Business
Video: Ethical Relativism 
Assignment:  Student reports


4/1 - 12

Distribution and Justice
Reading:  Text, ch.10: 608, 614, 618, 636, 647
Lecture:  Wealth and Justice
Video:  Capitalism Hits the Fan
Assignment:  Student reports


4/15 - 5/3

Diversity and Labor
Reading:  Text, ch. 3-4:160, 175, 238, Gentile Ch 7-8
Lecture:  Student reports
Assignment:  Student reports; prepare research papers



Analyzing Values
Lecture:  Evaluating Business Ethics
Assignment:  Research papers due
Examination    10:15 AM

Academic Honesty:
Academic integrity is the foundation of the academic community. Because each student has the primary responsibility for being academically honest, students are advised to read and understand all sections of this policy relating to standards of conduct and academic life. Park University students and faculty members are encouraged to take advantage of the University resources available for learning about academic honesty ( or Park University 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 95-96

Plagiarism involves the use of quotations without quotation marks, the use of quotations without indication of the source, the use of another's idea without acknowledging the source, the submission of a paper, laboratory report, project, or class assignment (any portion of such) prepared by another person, or incorrect paraphrasing. from Park University 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 95

Attendance Policy:
Instructors are required to maintain attendance records and to report absences via the online attendance reporting system.

  1. The instructor may excuse absences for valid reasons, but missed work must be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
  2. Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment, but unexcused absences may carry further penalties.
  3. In the event of two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences in a semester/term of enrollment, the student will be administratively withdrawn, resulting in a grade of "F".
  4. A "Contract for Incomplete" will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.
  5. Students receiving Military Tuition Assistance or Veterans Administration educational benefits must not exceed three unexcused absences in the semester/term of enrollment. Excessive absences will be reported to the appropriate agency and may result in a monetary penalty to the student.
  6. Report of a "F" grade (attendance or academic) resulting from excessive absence for those students who are receiving financial assistance from agencies not mentioned in item 5 above will be reported to the appropriate agency.

Park University 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 98

Disability Guidelines:
Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance. These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal. It is Park University's policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities. In the case of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply. Additional information concerning Park University's policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page: .

Additional Information:



CompetencyExceeds Expectation (3)Meets Expectation (2)Does Not Meet Expectation (1)No Evidence (0)
Defines the problem goals-methods using 4 or more goals & 6 or more methods based on a lit review of 11 or more articles that address the identified research problem. Uses 3 goals and 5 methods and a lit review of 10 articles to complete the proposal and written literature review. Research proposal is presented with less than 3 goal and 5 methodologies and less than 10 articles for the written lit review; items are not well organized or are haphazard. Problem is not well defined and goals and methodologies are not logically presented with no  lit review. 
Research proposal reflects an extension of existing knowledge and is logically presented; lit review identifies major issues clearly. Personal learnings statement is systematically stated, 4+ pages. Project proposal and lit review trace the readily available factors/elements that are associated with the  identified problem.  Personal learnings statement is adequate—uses three pages. Project proposal meets less than the required elements and/or the lit review is minimally done.  Personal learnings statement is 2 pages or less. Research proposal not done and/or lit review not completed and /or personal learnings statement not provided/ 
Learner provides accurate and extensive interpretations of the data gathered in the lit search and methodically uses it to write the proposal; personal learnings summaries clearly stated with depth of insight. Learner accurately summarizes lit review results and poses a project proposal reflecting the summary; personal learnings summary listed as assigned. Learner neglects relevant data in the lit review and/or shows no cohesion in the project proposal and/or shows limited application of learnings to personal understanding of the self. Lit review and project proposal show no connections and/or personal learnings summary not tied to project proposal process. 
Learner uses terms relevant to the topic in a manner consistent  with a clear understanding of  concept relationships. Basic meanings of terms appropriately used. Meanings of terms not clearly connected to discussions provided No specialized terminology used. 
Learner provides an astute project proposal that extends the relationships and application of ethics to business problems in ethics. Learner provides a research question-proposal fitting to the application of business ethics Learner provides a topic beyond the realm of research or the filed of business ethics. Research problem/question with project proposal and lit search not provided. 
1, 3, 4                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
Learner demonstrates extended knowledge of research relationships  and extension/applications. Learner structures proposal and lit review in a workable manner. Research methodologies and goals not related and/or not related to lt review data. No knowledge of research design. 
Whole Artifact                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
APA standards applied with 4 errors or less. APA standards used  with 5-9 errors present. APA style used with 10 or more errors. APA style not used. 
1, 3, 4                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
Text of document is 11 pages or longer with proper headings and organization with 1 inch margins, text double spaced and 12-point fonts. Body of text is 10 pages with proper headings and organization with 1 inch margins, text double spaced and 12-point fonts. Body of text is 8-9 pages with proper headings and organization with 1 inch margins, text double spaced and 12-point fonts. Body of text is 7 pages or less and/or  with improper headings and organization with odd inch margins, text line spacing or fonts. 
Learner provides transdisciplinary insights into related multicultural issues embedded in the research proposal project; poses interventions promoting diversity resources/skills. Learner addresses the multicultural issues within the field of the research topic/question chosen. Multicultural issues are mentioned but not related to the topic at hand. Multicultural issues not mentioned. 


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Last Updated:12/22/2012 12:55:53 AM