Is Business Bluffing Ethical?

Essay by irish_hoosierUniversity, Bachelor's November 2005

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Albert Carr stated that legality and profits are the only standard that people in business should follow. In Carr's article "Is business bluffing ethical?" he compared and found the rules of business to be similar with the rules of poker. In a game of poker, bluffing is a central part of the game and this is known and accepted by all the players. So bluffing in poker is not considered morally wrong. If in business everyone understands that bluffing is okay, should we still consider bluffing immoral? As a matter of fact, Carr also pointed out the moral rules in business are different with those outside of business. Most people think that bluffing both inside and outside of business should be ruled by the same moral standard. Therefore, I am going to use Mill's Utilitarianism, and Kant's ethical theory to support Carr. I will also use the stakeholder theory to view business bluffing.

Since bluffing is often mistaken for cheating, the difference between them should first be made clear. Bluffing, according to Carr, is not entirely cheating but not entirely telling the truth either. It is usually just an exaggeration of a true fact.

In his theory of Utilitarianism, Mill argues that if an action can cause both good and bad consequences, the way to judge whether this action is morally right or wrong depends on which action produces more happiness. In addition, Mill also advocates producing the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. Applying this theory in business, bluffing can also cause two consequences, bringing more profits to the business or creating mistrust among its customers. It is not hard to measure which consequence produces more happiness for people. Just check any company's business plan and one can see that all they want to do...