Maximizing Profits

Maximizing Profits


Argue both for and against the idea that it is always ethically responsible to maximize profits, using 150–250 words for each argument. When is it ethically responsible to maximize profits and when is it not? What would be an exception to that? Use the ethical theories that you have learned about in this lesson to support your arguments.

Then write a response for the below.


Obviously, we have to make the assumption that we’re looking at for-profit businesses and not non-profits. I think we must also assume that we are not considering sole proprietorship either. This form of a business is indistinguishable from the individual and the choice to maximize profits or not is entirely up to the person in question and not really a matter of ethics. An individual can focus solely on profits and then do good work within society with what is earned. In the case of other business forms, there are partners, shareholders, employees, vendors and others that are directly impacted by whether the business is profitable. As such, it is always ethical to maximize profits. In fact, it’s the primary responsibility of business. To ignore its responsibility would itself be unethical. If an employee is laid off because the company can’t make payroll, or a vendor is not paid because the company’s checks are bouncing, that could be unethical if the company put profits on a back burner relative to some other endeavor. The company made a commitment to these parties. So what we’re really talking about is how a company maximizes profits. That is very much a question of ethics. If a company put maximizing profits first and did it in an ethical manner, then it’s perfectly ethical.

If a company were to engage in shady practices in order to maximize its bottom line, that is obviously unethical. Moreover, if a company focused in on profitability so exclusively that it didn’t consider the impact on society, it’s employees, neighbors, etc. then it could be considered unethical by means of negligence. It may not be deliberately attempting to do wrong. For example, if a construction company were to accept bids from outside firms to supply building materials, it would be wise to involve a quality assurance or building code compliance resource in the process. The company could otherwise focus on the bottom line impact of accepting the lowest bid but end up with substandard materials. That may not have been its intent. But the savings from the lowest bid as well as the cost of a quality or compliance resource not being utilized could increase profitability at the cost of a danger to occupants of the resulting building.

So, maximizing profits in and of itself is not necessarily ethical or unethical. It’s a question of how a company pursues these profits.

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