Principle-based Ethics and Leadership

Mick Fryer

in Ethics and Organizational Leadership

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199590186
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191724947 | DOI:
Principle-based Ethics and Leadership

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Some prominent principle-based ethics theories are outlined and their implications for leadership are considered. These theories include utilitarianism, rights theory, Kantian ethics, contract theory, and Rawls' justice theory. It is suggested that monological application of moral principle by leaders imposes unreasonable expectations on them. Attention is drawn to the expedient flexibility that the breadth of principle-based theory lends to moral justification, which underlines the importance of consistency in both the choice and the application of principle. However, some difficulties associated with consistency are also identified. Whatever conceptual and practical challenges might be associated with principle-based theories, it is suggested that they nevertheless serve two useful purposes in relation to leadership: firstly, they help to structure the content of our moral understanding; and secondly, they offer a range of frameworks for reflecting upon the ethicality of leadership interventions.

Keywords: consistency; Kant; leadership; moral realism; principle-based ethics; Rawls; rights; contract theory; utilitarianism

Chapter.  9232 words. 

Subjects: Organizational Theory and Behaviour

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