3 responses »

  1. Anthony says:

    It seems as if their reasons for wanting to buy personal items on their company credit cards were that they wanted to buy personal items and they believed that they would not get caught because they thought companies did not check on what the company cards were used to buy. This means that everyone who works for this company and wants to buy personal items should use their company credit card. However, if everyone does this then their reasons for using their company credit cards will no longer apply. The company will end up with a very large credit card bill and therefore start to check on the purchases where it will find that employees used the credit cards for personal use. Therefore you can no longer assume that you will not get caught so your reasons for the action fail the generalization test.

  2. Prerna says:

    This situation fails the generalization test. The co-workers in this case were buying things on their company card because they thought they could without getting caught, as the company had a general culture of not checking their credit card purchase. However, as a result, others were starting to do the same, and furthermore, starting to push the limits of who could buy the most expensive item without being caught. Therefore, because everyone is engaged in this activity, the amounts being spent on the cards will keep increasing, and the company will probably start investigating purchases more. Ultimately, this fails the generalization test because employees of the company can’t assume that they will not be caught as a result of their actions.

  3. John Hooker says:

    As a practical matter, it may be hard for you to turn down the free drinks. Your friends may put them on the company card despite your protests.

    However, if you have a choice, then we have to know something more about the cultural situation. There is no mention of which country you are talking about. It is possible that charging personal expenses to the card is regarded as job benefit. The company knows all about it and prefers to tolerate the practice because it helps recruit and retain the employees they want. In this case, your friends’ behavior is probably ethical, and there is no problem accepting the drinks.

    On the other hand, charging the company card could be part of a national pattern of corruption. Corruption can be defined as culturally ungeneralizable behavior: it is behavior that, if generalized, would prevent you from carrying out your purposes in the country in which you are operating, because it would undermine the cultural system. This can occur in former Soviet bloc countries, for example, which struggle to root out corruption left over from the old days. If this is the situation, your friends’ behavior is unethical.

    So what should you do about it? There are certainly many cases in which you shouldn’t accept a gift that was unethically obtained. If a friend offers you a jacket that she shoplifted, you shouldn’t accept it, because this violates property rights and is therefore ungeneralizable. The jacket can’t be your property if the institution of property is undermined by universal disregard for it. (In fact, the jacket isn’t legally yours anyway, because stolen goods remain the property of the original owner.)

    Accepting “stolen” drinks is problematic for the same reason, and other things equal, they should be declined if possible. However, we have to know more about the cultural situation. Hospitality may be an equally important value in the culture, and declining it, even in a questionable situation, may be ungeneralizable. Your friends may also be offended by your refusal. This in itself is not a deciding factor, but it may indicate an underlying cultural practice whose violation would be ungeneralizable.

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