LEGAL THEORY AND ETHICS OF BUSINESS
Updated A.Y. 2019-2020
Financial markets are legally constructed and as such occupy an essentially hybrid place between state and market, public and private. At the same time, financial markets exhibit dynamics that frequently put them in direct ethical tension with commitments enshrined in law or driven by benefits. In response to financial crisis, this course is to prepare students for the legal and ethical questions they may be forced to answer in the decades to come. It is not only to make law a priority but a matter of giving voice to ethical values.
This course is a multidisciplinary, interactive study of Business Ethics within various legal systems, but a global economy. Its central aim is to enable students to develop a framework to address ethical challenges as they arise within and across different countries.The first part of the course is dedicated to examine major themes in legal theory, including the nature of law, legal systems and authorities, the nexus between morality and law and political action, and to introduce various normative ethical theories developed over the centuries (natural law, utilitarianism, Kantianism and virtue ethics). Only afterwards guests belonging to different academic and business fields and students divided into groups will animate the class with issues about discrimination and safety at work, information disclosure, conflicts of interest, corruption and bribery, whistleblowing, consumer protection, product safety, environmental ethics and sustainability etc.
This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop a general knowledge of sources of law and worldwide legal systems, critical thinking and problem solving, self-awareness, teamwork and communication skills, intercultural and ethical competency. By the end, students will have a clear understanding of the legal and ethical environment in which businesses operate, of the techniques of ethical reasoning and argumentation that are needed to analyze ethical issues in business. The teamwork has the aim to practice the application of general ethical principles to particular cases or practices in business; the critical evaluation of the comparative morality of various different types of legal and economic systems; the imagination of morally praiseworthy and exemplary actions of either individuals or firms in business.
Learning should be an active and self-motivated experience. Accordingly, class members are expected to contribute substantive comments during the classes. Students who passively listen to lectures are unlikely to develop their critical thinking and expand their personal knowledge system. Therefore, learning Business Ethics is best accomplished when students are provided with experiential opportunities. For this reason it is planned that students make them into groups of four. At the beginning of the course one case would be allocated to each group, which is invited to present it to their classmates using the following format: 1) Present the case in all its components: factual (political, social, economic context and evidences) and legal (violated rules, duties and rights); 2) Present the case decision, analyzing the evidences displayed by the parties and their relevance for the decision and explaining the main arguments used by the court for its judgment; 3) Present your evaluation/analysis of the case referred to the main ethical theories explained in the first part of the course; 4) Present your view on the legal and ethical issues resulting from the case with justifying reasons. For the presentation each group has about 45 minutes time. Students are invited to deepen their understanding of both theoretical and current issues related to the case assigned from a variety of sources.
For attending students the course material consists of interactive lectures, power point presentations, videos and/or radio interviews, academic articles, readings from textbooks and guest speakers drawing on interdisciplinary perspectives and thematic issues in the fields of international politics, business, communications and law.
For non-attending students the textbooks are R. Sacco, Legal Formants: A Dynamic Approach to Comparative Law, in The American Journal of Comparative Law, vol. 39, 1991, 1-34 and 343-401 (uploaded); U. Mattei, Three Pattern of Law, Taxonomy and Change in the World's Legal System, ibid., vol. 45, 1997, 5-44 (uploaded); T. Halbert and E. Ingulli, Law & Ethics in the Business Environment, 8th ed., limited to Chap. 1, p. 1-40, Chap. 2, p. 72-77, Chap. 3, p. 96-113, Chap. 4, p. 144-166, Chap.5, p. 178-188 and p. 201-203, Chap. 6, p. 210-225, Chap. 7, 248-260, 265-271 and p. 280-285, Chap. 8, p. 289-296. To better understand the cases read the Appendices A and B, please.
The final grade in the course will be made up of grades on case presentation and group discussions (20 %) and written exam (80 %), both compulsory. The written exam (2h) concerns on one or two open-ended questions and the solution of a case, each requiring the student to provide his/her so reasoned and elaborated as possible written answer about topics and issues covered during the class. Consistency and complexity of the reasoning and correctness of the language used will be evaluated. The result of the written exam is the sum of the points in all the parts on a 30-points scale (where the minimum passing grade is 18).
The project evaluation concerns on developing, drafting and presentation of a case already decided by a high court in team (2-4 persons each team) in order to practice and prove their (written and oral) communication skills in the area of business ethics. The project evaluation would be expressed on a 30-points scale.
Computers, ipads, smartphones, etc. are permitted in class for the sole purpose of taking notes. Connecting to the internet during class for any reason beyond the immediate scope of the course (or legitimate emergency) is strictly prohibited. To record the lectures is not allowed.