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Large Profit Margins and Utilitarian Business Ethics

Evaluate the morality of the large profit margins commanded by the high-end brands

For some people who run their own business, the notions of ethics and financial profit seem to have no common points. The issue of the appropriateness of large profit margins that are commanded by many luxurious brands was brought up in the article by Kenny Kline (2016). In the article, he refers to the case that caused quite a massive public outcry three years ago. In April 2013, one thousand people who worked in a clothing factory in Bangladesh died because of the building collapse.

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From the point of view of utilitarian ethics, the utility is considered to make some action reasonable and useful (Gustafson, 2013, p.325). In terms of this ethical theory, a beneficial action must bring something good to the majority of people. When high-end companies get enormous profit from selling their products that should be sold at a lower price, they are the only part that gets a benefit. Such a situation is likely to be contrary to the principles of utilitarian ethics and therefore it is immoral.

As it follows from Kantian ethics, every action should be performed in accordance with the categorical imperative proclaiming the importance of duty (Dierksmeier, 2013, p.597). Thus, the action is believed to be appropriate if it follows a number of rules. If one would like this action to become a rule for everyone in the world, the action may be regarded as permissible. In we talk about getting large profit margins, the owners of brands that practice it would not like all other companies to do the same and to grow rich. Consequently, this action is immoral and inappropriate according to Kantian ethics.

According to virtue ethics, appropriate actions are connected to the virtues that include truthfulness and modesty. Getting a large profit from selling downscale goods contradicts these principles.

Introduce your topic, why it is important, what is the thrust of your project, and what is the general organization of the sections that will follow

The issues concerning the appropriateness of some common business practices are discussed in the world of business from time to time. Ethical theories should be studied and applied by those who run their own business because only ethics can become a basis of sound relationships between business partners or a company and its customers. In 2013, a serious violation of both ethical principles and human rights was committed by the owner of the clothing factory in Bangladesh. It was built in breach of the special requirements and people were working in terrible conditions. What is worse, the goods produced by them were later sold at the price that exceeded manifold its actual cost. The case draws a response and this is why the movement against violation of business ethics appeared. The thrust of the project is to reveal the crimes against morality that are committed when companies get a large profit margin by using inappropriate business practices. During the project, I am studying various ethical theories and apply them to explain the heart of the problem. The project consists of an introduction, two chapters where common ethical principles are revealed and applied to the case of getting large profit margins, conclusion, and reference list.

Developing the project, I was using a few articles on the principles of ethics (from peer-reviewed journals), and printed sources like “The Guardian”, revealing the circumstances of the tragedy and the response to it. Due to these sources, I managed to examine the case thoroughly, and analyze it using different approaches to ethics.


Dierksmeier, C. (2013). Kant on virtue. Journal of business ethics, 113(4), 597-609.

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Gustafson, A. (2013). In defense of a utilitarian business ethic. Business and Society Review, 118(3), 325-360.

Kline, K. (2016). How this fashion startup is blending ethics with profit. INC. Web.

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