BUSL 204 – Essay instructions
The essay is to be an ethical analysis of a current ethical issue from a newspaper article. This article must:
- Relate to a business ethics issue. An issue of moral concern (e.g. killing whales, euthanasia etc.) is not acceptable unless there is a clear link to business. Ideally your article will relate to one of the topics considered within the unit as per the outline and text.
- Have been published in the last three years.
- Be in English.
A link to the article must be provided as part of the references in your essay.
The essay should be no more than 2,200 words including references. This report should briefly explain the ethical issue and analyse it in relation to the main ethical theories covered in the unit, such as relativism, utilitarian, Kantian and virtue ethics.
Your report should refer to at least one academic paper (from academic journals such as the Journal of Business Ethics, Business Ethics: A European Review or Business Ethics Quarterly) that relates to the ethical issue in your newspaper article. I suggest two strategies: first searching based on keywords related to your topic, and second browsing the latest issues to find articles of relevance. To do this it is probably easiest to go to the journal pages directly. You can follow this link to Journal Finder – then type in the journal name to access the databases. Note that you will have to log in after searching Journal Finder if you are doing this from off campus. You may also find the reference list in the Desjardins text a useful source of academic papers that relate to your topic of interest.
Assessment will be based on the quality of the ethical analysis displayed in the report as follows:
Topic background and ethical issue (2/20) – The extent to which you have clearly explained the background to your topic and identified a clear and focused ethical issue.
Relevant academic literature identified (3/20) – The extent to which you have identified and explained academic literature relevant to your ethical issue. Note that this requires critical evaluation of the literature as opposed to merely a chronological description of relevant studies.
Summary of key ethical theories provided (4/20) – The extent to which the main feature of the theories have been identified and more sophisticated aspects of the theories discussed (e.g. the Bentham vs. Mill/quantity vs. quality aspect of utilitarianism).
Application of key ethical theories (6/20) – The extent to which you have used the key ethical theories to investigate the ethical issue you have identified. The extent to which you have applied the more sophisticated aspects of the theories and also utilised the relevant academic identified to add sophistication to your analysis.
Conclusions and recommendations (3/20) – The extent to which you have provided a logical conclusion based on your ethical analysis. The extent to which you have developed recommendations – e.g. ethical principles and/or policy recommendations – that would help address the ethical issue you have identified.
Writing style (2/20) – The extent to which the essay is free from bibliographical, grammatical and typographical errors
- Refer to key ethical theories
- Refer to issues covered in relevant readings / tutorials
- Discuss the issue in your group. If you disagree, that’s OK, just say something like: “while some of us believed that this was inconsistent with a virtue ethics perspective because of xxxx, others disagreed because of yyyy.”
- Provide an abstract of no more than 200 words
- Provide a word count
- Reference consistently (the choice of referencing style is up to you)
- Use endnote (optional, but if you do it’s almost impossible to make a referencing error – and it’s free for MU students)
- Spend too much time on facts (instead of moral analysis). This includes any legal issues – just because someone contravened (or didn’t contravene) a law doesn’t necessarily mean that the action was unethical (or ethical).
- Just repeat the company’s or reporter’s point of view (it’s what you think that’s interesting)
- Label everything as unethical (or ethical). Few real-world issues are clear-cut.
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