MBA 5005 Week1 Disscussion

Discussion Question 1

Are all laws ethical? Why or why not? Provide examples of ethical and unethical laws.

The fact that something is legal doesn’t make it ethical. I am going to attempt to explain why I feel that legality doesn’t determine ethics by utilizing some everyday examples…..

Legal but unethical counter-examples:

1. Most kinds of lying are perfectly legal, but lying is generally recognized as being unethical;

2. Breaking promises is generally legal, but is widely thought of as unethical;

3.Cheating on your husband or wife or boyfriend or girlfriend is legal, but unethical, though the rule against it is perhaps more honored; …etcetera.

So, if you believe that what is legal is also ethical, you’ve got to bite an awful lot of bullets, and accept as ethical a lot of behaviors that are generally considered unacceptable.

Now in the case of ethical standards in competitive domains, the situation is a little differnet6. After all, ethical rules are different in adversarial situations, and it might well be argued that in the highly-regulated world of commerce, businesses should feel justified in helping themselves to whatever strategies aren’t specifically outlawed.

But that rationale is, at best, incomplete, and leaves open a different line of argumentation, one that applies even within competitive domains, and one that should truly drive a stake through the heart of the “legal=ethical” nonsense.

Consider: on what general basis is something made illegal? Let’s set aside cases of unscrupulous legislators passing laws simply to benefit themselves or their friends. In all legitimate cases of lawmaking, the law always has a moral purpose — generally, either to make people’s lives better and safer (e.g., seatbelt laws) or to protect some important right (e.g., food-labeling laws).

If every case where a behavior is legal (right now) is then considered ethically OK (right now), on what basis could new laws ever be passed? Certainly not on ethical grounds, because per hypothesis if something is currently legal is must be ethically OK. What if some horrible new toxin is discovered, the use of which by industry would pose significant risks to workers or consumers? Should it be banned? If we follow the hypothesis given, it cannot be. After all, using it is legal, so it must be ethical; and if it’s ethical, it cannot be made illegal.

Blurring the line between what is legal and also ethical is most likely indulging in self-serving rationalizations. In the private sector, it’s likely that someone is trying to justify some behavior that is unethical but not-yet illegal because of its profitability. When that same idea comes up in academic circles, it’s more likely the self-interest they are trying to preserve is their own interest in avoiding the hard work of figuring out which business behaviors are unethical, and why.


Podolsky, R.E.(2012). Ethics, Law, and Government. Retrieved from:

Discussion Question 2

Using the keywords Morse v. Frederick, 127 S.Ct. 2618 (2007), search the Internet and read the complete case.

Analyze whether the Supreme Court would consider a banner reading “Wine Sips 4 Jesus” as protected speech. Why or why not? In your opinion, should college students be subject to the same restrictions as high school students? Why or why not?

Whether or not Wine Sips 4 Jesus would be protected speech depends on where that banner is located and the purpose for the banner. If for example it were located in a mall outside of a wine vendor it would likely be considered commercial speech and not protected. If the same banner were placed outside a church for a charity event, then it would likely be protected speech given its religious connection. If it were in a neutral place, then one would need to analyze its purpose. If the purpose is religious, then it is protected, if the purpose is commercial or informative, then it would not necessarily be protected simply because it has the word Jesus in it. In Hispanic communities, Jesus is a common male name, so that fact alone does not make it protected.

As for student’s rights, college students are mostly adults, with a few exceptions, while high school students are almost always children, except those who celebrate their 18 birthday and become adults. The rights afforded adults, versus those afforded children in a public high school must, therefore, be greater. Adult students are able to freely come and go as they please and believed to have the intellectual ability to control their impulses and carefully think things through. High school students, on the other hand, are minors whose parents and the school are responsible for their behavior. That fact alone means their rights must, on occasion, be limited due to concerns for public interests and safety.

Support your answers with examples and reasoning. Comment on the postings of at least two peers.