Ethical Critiques of Business Practices

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April 23, McGriff Alumni House, 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Each student engages in a spoken critique of a specific contemporary business practice and, where appropriate, proposes change based on the application of a particular ethical standard. For instance, one speaker might offer a critique of the airline industry’s practice of purposefully and knowingly overbooking flights, a second speaker might address the oil and gas industry’s use of overland pipelines, a third speaker might consider the bottled-water industry’s habit of offering free water to communities after natural disasters, a fourth speaker might wrestle with the pharmaceutical industry’s method of setting prices on drugs crucial to the treatment of a specific life-threatening diseases (e.g., HIV-AIDS), and a fifth speaker might engage social media’s monitoring (or non-monitoring) of hate speech online. Each speaker is required to investigate and justify an appropriate ethical standard, apply that standard fairly to the business practice in question, address questions raised in a detached and deeply informed manner, and defend the proposal by describing the broader benefit(s) to society. A contestant may also critique the ethical standard used in a given industry or profession and propose and justify a better standard. Presentations should be 8-10 minutes in length and will be followed by 2-3 minutes of questions and answers. Audio and visual aids are permitted but should be limited to 30 seconds or less of audio and 3 slides or less of visual. Awards will be given for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. 

Interested students should apply by this form that includes the student’s name, major, year in school, contact information, title of presentation, and abstract of the ethical critique by 31 March 2018. If more than six students apply, we will hold preliminary rounds to determine the 5-6 finalists.

Students are judged on the following bases:

  1. Establishment of clear and appropriate ethical standards for judgment in the case at hand, including explanation of the ethical principles that allow the student to arrive at the standard.

  2. Knowledge of the facts of the case, evidenced by citation of appropriate evidence, sources, examples, narratives, and authorities.

  3. Establishment of the significance of the case to the audience and larger community.

  4. Quality of the application of the ethical standards to the business practice at issue, including fair-minded critique and analysis.

  5. Clarity and eloquence of the presentation (well organized, with appropriate use of language, voice, action, and audio/visual aids), along with the articulation of a convincing ethical case.

  6. Adherence to ethical, professional, and mature standards of speaking and fair and accurate representation of the business and ethical issues that arise.