Kant’s second formulation of the Categorial Imperative can be a helpful method of moral decision making. The second formulation is a principle that tells us what we should do in any kind of situation. It states that you should act in a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of another, never just as a means but always at the same time as an end. Simply put, we should not use people as objects, but instead recognize the value and capabilities we all have.
If we were to consider certain business issues through Kantian ethics, we would be able to get to the root of the issue much more quickly.
An example of how Kantian ethics could be applicable to a business related issue would be theft in retail. This is a huge ongoing issue in the business of retail. Suppose an employee who is angry at their manager for a justified reason, steals from the store. Now, a universal agreement that permits theft, could never be in existence. This is because goods have a limited supply, and collective ownership is impossible, private property is developed. If a statement that permits stealing were universally accepted, there would be no private property. If we were all free to take from each other, nothing could ever be owned. Since we need some form of private property, a statement permitting stealing would be self-defeating. In conclusion, if the employee steals from her manager, theft is morally wrong.
Another example I found through research is something that happened with General Motors under Jose Lopez. He ripped up long standing contracts, ended many relationships, and demanded lower prices in order to cut costs for the company. But this ploy would not be able to pass the test of the categorial imperative. If a rule permitting the break of a contract was made legal, no contracts would exist. People wouldn’t enter a contract if they knew the other party would not honor it. A generalized rule that allows contract breaking would also be self-defeating.
To conclude, I do believe Kantian ethics could be helpful in a world where all people followed the Categorical Imperative. The problem with this is that there are many people reject this practice or are unable to act freely. While it may give us a strong idea of what is moral, it might be useless when it comes to making many practical, everyday decisions.