Business Ethics in “Parable of the Sadhu”

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“The Parable of Sadhu” is the story of a businessman, Bowen H. McCoy, who was faced with an ethical dilemma as he climbed the Himalayas mountains. A journey meant to figure himself out, both in his professional life as well as his personal life, became one that changed his life and the way he viewed the world around him. Along the journey, McCoy saw a sadhu laying in the snow with little clothes on and suffering from hypothermia. McCoy and the other climbers were confronted with a situation that caused them to make quick, individual decisions without necessarily considering the consequences of those decisions. They were forced to decide if they were going to try to save his life and in turn, lose their opportunity to complete their goal, or leave him there to an undetermined fate. Within this paper I will determine whether or not I feel that McCoy realized that he was being confronted with an ethical dilemma when he was first presented with it or if it took him until after the moment had passed to realize it. Additionally, I am going to evaluate McCoy’s decision based on the Golden Rule as well as the Public Disclosure test to continue my search into determining whether I feel his decision was ethical or not. Lastly, I will determine what McCoy weighed as his costs versus benefits of the decisions he made. After closely evaluating this story, I do not believe that McCoy’s actions were redeemed ethical, however this situation could have been helpful to him when facing ethical dilemmas within the world of business.

When McCoy initially saw the sadhu, he knew something was wrong and felt some sort of responsibility to make sure he was alive, although he was unaware that he was being faced with an ethical dilemma. Before coming across the sadhu, McCoy was concerned with himself and afraid that he would not be able to withstand the height or would potentially develop altitude sickness. Although he was very focused on himself, when McCoy was confronted with the sadhu, he did the humane thing and checked his pulse to confirm that he was still breathing. However, after he did that, he left the other climbers to help the sadhu and he then continued on with his journey and without considering staying and helping him or wondering what would happen if he left him there. These actions indicate that he did not realize that he was facing an ethical dilemma. He had very little concern for the sadhu, but remained focused on getting across the mountain and reaching his goal. McCoy was so focused on himself and his own needs and goals that he was unable to recognize that there was a bigger, life altering problem at hand. It was not until after he talked to his friend, Stephen, that he realized that his choices and actions could have potentially been the wrong decision. This is shown through his reevaluation he had for years after about the journey and the decisions he had made that he realized he had faced an ethical dilemma, and handled it the wrong way.

When assessing ethical guidelines, the Golden Rule and the Public Disclosure test are two guidelines that McCoy fails to follow in the situation he faced. The Golden Rule says that you do to others as you would have others do to you. In this situation, when McCoy saw the sadhu lying at his feet, all he did was lay him on a rock and checked his pulse and left him without thinking of what could have potentially happened if he did not stay and help him to safety. If the tables were turned, McCoy would have expected the sadhu to stay and not only make sure he was still alive, but bring him to safety, not leave him stranded. It is clear that McCoy did not think about what he would have expected if he were in the sadhu’s situation. He thoughtlessly left him and selfishly continued on toward his own goal all the while worrying about his own safety and health. He certainly would have expected someone in his group to help him if they saw he needed it. Another ethical dilemma that McCoy failed to acknowledge was the Public Disclosure test, which says that people act differently if they know that others are watching. We know that McCoy did not think in this way because if he knew that his actions were to be witnessed by others, he probably would have acted differently. Being a managing director at a successful company like Morgan Stanley, he is clearly in a high up position and his actions could potentially be put out in the public. If McCoy were to have thought of his consequences getting out into the public and possibly affecting his reputation as a businessman, then he would have reacted differently to the situation.****find a more professional way to say this****

I do not believe that McCoy properly weighed the costs and benefits of his actions. At first McCoy was slightly concerned with the sadhu’s condition in that he was “lying on the ice, shivering and suffering from hypothermia (pg. 104).” It was obvious that McCoy cared because he stopped to make sure he was okay. However, his own wants and needs got in the way of his concern for the sadhu and “without a great deal of thought (pg. 104)” he left as he became more concerned with his own success and safety. Because he was so concerned with himself getting to safety and completing his journey, he did not take the time to really evaluate the situation and think rationally about what he should do. It was not until after the event occurred that McCoy properly was able to weigh the potential outcomes against the choices he made. Later on ****doesnt he lecture on this story so it wouldnt be just later on i dont think--just look at this part****he discussed that he constantly thinks about the fate of the sadhu and has spent the rest of his life from that day wondering, reliving and feeling guilty for not doing more to help this man. He also considers the costs and compares them to business situations and how his immediate need to make decisions sometimes may make it more difficult to make the right decision. This situation and what it taught him has taught him to be a better decision maker in making ethical decisions.

In conclusion, it is important to think ethically when forming decisions especially if the decision will have effects on others. Despite this fact, it is not always easy to make the right decision when the situation is unexpected, like the one McCoy was confronted with. Making ethical decisions is necessary in the business world especially, as the wrong decision could have irreversible consequences that could destroy a company. It is important to know how to go about an ethical dilemma when confronted with one. In McCoy’s situation, if he was given more time to think about the situation there would have been different consequences on himself and the sadhu. If this were a situation in his work life, this could have easily caused much more trouble for him. The situation that he was actually in has affected McCoy for his entire life because he never found out what happened to the sadhu and he continues to think about what he should and should not have done. This situation has also helped McCoy within his personal and work life as he now thinks more carefully about the decisions he makes.**You just need to tighten that conclusion up*** send it to me when you do and ill take a look again 

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Business Ethics in "Parable of the Sadhu". (2022, Feb 02). Retrieved March 5, 2024 , from

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