Business Ethics (cross-listed with PHL 107)

I.     Course Prefix/Number: BUS 107

       Course Name: Business Ethics (cross-listed with PHL 107)

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite


III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course investigates moral issues which arise in the conduct of business, marketing and advertising. Of value for business students and consumers. Topics include corporate responsibility and social justice, conflicts of interest, environmental issues, problems of discrimination, and the rights of employees and consumers.  Students cannot get credit for both PHL 107 and BUS 107.

IV.   Learning Objectives

After completing this class, students will be able to do the following:

  1. Define the basic vocabulary needed to discuss ethical theories and be able to state the problems that ethical theories address.
  2. Explain and compare at least four conflicting ethical theories and the arguments that support these theories.
  3. Explain and compare at least three conflicting theories of social justice that address issues of property, profit, distributive justice, and the responsibilities of corporations.
  4. Apply ethical theories to concrete situations and particular situations that arise in business.  Issues may include insider trading, racial and gender discrimination in hiring, the rights of employees and consumers, environmental responsibility, and human rights in the global context.
  5. Use the ethical theory with which they agree to defend their own positions on contemporary business ethics issues both orally and in writing.
  6. Exhibit values related to teamwork and collaboration, fostered by the pedagogy of shared-inquiry and critical dialogue appropriate to both philosophy and business.
  7. Demonstrate an understanding of the guiding provisions in the Code of Professional Conduct from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

  1. Introduction to ethical theories
    1. Kantianism
    2. Utilitarianism
    3. Moral relativism
    4. The ethic of care
    5. Morality and religion
  2. Social justice and capitalism
    1. Traditional theories of property and profit including Smith
    2. The Marxist challenge to traditional theories
    3. Modern theories of property and profit
      1. Nozick’s libertarianism and Friedman
      2. Rawlsian liberalism, Stiglitz and Krugman
    4. New issues in property: intellectual property
  3. Moral responsibility and corporations
    1. Stockholders verses stakeholders
    2. Moral responsibilities of employees
    3. Codes of Professional Conduct such as the AICPA Code
  4. Discrimination in hiring
    1. Diversity and affirmative action
    2. Sexual harassment
  5. The rights of employees
    1. Privacy
    2. Health and safety
    3. Unionization
    4. Whistleblowing
  6. The rights of consumers
    1. Marketing
    2. Safety
  7. Environmental issues
    1. Government regulation
    2. The debate over growth
  8. Cultural differences and international business
  9. Social justice and globalization
    1. Legacies of colonialism
    2. Human rights today
    3. Multinational corporations
    4. The role of global agencies such as the IMF and the World Bank
  10. The current economic crisis and the new issues that it reveals

VII.  Methods of Instruction

  • Lectures and discussion
  • Small group work
  • Films
  • Student presentations and debates
  • Guest speakers
  • Field trips may be required

Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

  • Attendance
  • Standards for written work
  • Quizzes/Exams
  • Participation
  • Essays
  • Final Project
  • Special policies about make-up exams, late papers, or other matters of concern

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

A text such as Ethical Issues in Business edited by Donaldson, Werhane, and Cording or Ethical Challenges to Business-As-Usual edited by Collins-Chobanian should be chosen.

Appropriate texts will contain case studies as well as traditional philosophical selections.

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

  1. Quizzes/Exams……40 points
  2. Essays……40 points
  3. Final project with oral presentation……10 points
  4. Attendance and participation………10 points
  5. Grading scale: 90-100, A…….80-89, B………70-79, C……….60-69……..D

XI.   Other Course Information

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.