Ethics in Business :
Soloman believes that as the game theory gets more sophisticated, we tend to lose sight of the problem rather than solve it. He sees the problem as how to get people to think about business and about themselves in an Aristotelian rather than a neo-Hobbesian (or even a Rawlsian) way which the game theoretical models simply presuppose.
Soloman discusses seven presuppositions in the first section of his Ethics & Excellence book. They are…
1. Rationality and prudence
2. Motivation and self-interest
3. Money and measurement
4. The anomaly of altruism
5. Good and goals
6. The open-ended playing field
7. The role of the rules
Soloman rejects each presupposition and gives his reasons why. This essay will discuss two of these presuppositions and either agrees or disagrees with Soloman and then gives reasons as to why. The two presuppositions that will be discussed are money and measurement and the role of the rules.
Money and Measurement
In business, as in most games, we like to keep score. As one of Soloman's businessman friends told him "in business you always know how well you are doing. You just have to put your hand in your pocket. People often think the more money one has, the happier they are. You often hear people say…if I only had more money, I would be happy. Frequently the perceived level of success is compared to the size of one's bank account, the location of their house or the amount of cars in the driveway. People seem to perceive money as being happiness. Soloman says that keeping score, although it is not an essential feature of games, seems to be one of the most durable features of game theory. He thinks that the best way to keep score is to have a dependable point system, a definite unit of worth, which is money.
Soloman rejects this presupposition by first stating that money isn't the only or even primary social good and "money is only a means and not an end. Soloman agrees with these statements but to further reject this presupposition, he goes on to discuss another example involving money. Social theorists, in general, like to talk about money, because money is a readily measurable utility, a readily comparable measure and apparently clear basis for comparison. But even some of these unrefined theorists recognize that equal amounts of money do not have equal significance for different people, therefore money is not an absolute readily measurable utility. Soloman states that various ends are hard to compare and so success and maximum utility may be hard to measure. If we were to assign every end a monetary value, however and rate various preferences according to their exchange value on the market, we would indeed have a single scale on which to compare and evaluate ends and means and determine utility.
I agree with Soloman's reasoning. I do not think that success and maximum utility can be so easily measured with money. Almost everyone in the world values money, but not all at the same rate. The importance of money varies from person to person. Therefore the utility of money varies. Some people rate money as the most important thing to them. These people usually get lost in their everyday work life, doing everything for money and measuring everything with a monetary value. Some people perceive money as important, but not more important than such things as their families, health and freedom. Then, there are some people who are happy with what they have. I was once told that the wealthiest people in the world are the people that are happy with what they have. These people need only enough money to be reasonably comfortable and they believe in the importance of self-esteem and peace of mind. People have different wants and different values which makes it very hard to use money as an absolute means of measurement.
The Role of the Rules
We generally conceive games as rule-defined. Almost all games have rules that must be followed in order to play. There are usually steps and strict rules that define games and they are mostly played the same each and every time. Businesses also have rules. They are also defined by steps and strict laws. Organizations and employees must abide by these rules in order to function properly. Soloman also states that games are thought mostly to be rule-defined but he thinks that business as a practice is much larger than that. In business, the rules come after and people need to use sensitivity and imagination and not just obey these rules. He says that there are rules (especially laws) and that it is both unethical and imprudent to disobey them. Soloman thinks "it is essential to see business and business life first of all as a practice, not a game, in which general expectations and mutual agreements are established before there are any rules, much less laws."
I agree with Soloman mostly because I too see business as a practice and not a game. I think that when someone wants to create a business, they generally establish expectations and mutual agreements but as for any rules or laws, these are created after the business is setup. You can't go into a business with strict rules and laws if you don't know what the business is. Once the company goals are set, then there must be rules and boundaries as to how employees can obtain these organizational goals.
Games are very specific. In business, some rules are very strict, some are made to be bent and some rules are made up as the business develops. Although laws are not rules that can be bent or broken, only after the details of the business have been founded can the laws that apply to this certain company be established. In conclusion, Soloman was right to reject all of the presuppositions he discussed in his book. I agree with each and every one of them. As for money and measurement, money should not be considered an absolute measurement of success or maximum utility. The value of money varies too greatly from person to person. A mom and pop store owner may be more than happy with the constant but average amount of money that flows in to him each week but a top executive may be unhappy with his salary that is probably five times more than the satisfied store owner. Many various variables must be considered when attempting to measure success or maximum utility, such as values, how that person defines success, their upbringing, and many more. The role of the rules presupposition is rejected because, as stated earlier, business should be seen as a practice and not a game. Games have specific and strict rules and in business, expectations and mutual agreements must be established before there are any rules. The rules in business are established after the business is founded and not before such as in games. I do not think that the seven presuppositions of the game theory are appropriate and I agree with Soloman's rejections.
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