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The awareness about this moral duty results in the

‘‘good will’’ – the pure incentive upon which the act

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is based. Kant’s Categorical Imperative (CI) intro-

duces the idea of universalization as the deontological

epitome, the supreme criterion for ultimate ethical

behavior. The first and foremost formula introduces

the CI in utmost rational abstraction: ‘‘Act only

according to that maxim whereby you can at the

same time will that it should become a universal law’’

(Kant, tr.1993: 30 [421]). However, the end-in-itself

formula of the CI, as being more clearly related to

human dignity and practical life, tells us even more

for our context: Act in such a way that you treat

humanity, whether in your own person or in the

person of another, always the same time as an end and

never simply as a means (Kant, tr. 1993: 36 [429]).

Practically, the message here is: Whatever you do,

take into account the equally valid entitlement of

others to enjoy a life in freedom within the bound-

aries of justice that is relevant for all and everyone. Or

for those who like it more drastically: If you want to

be ethical, then become universalizable without

conceptual or consequential contradiction. This may

be too eminent a call for any human being and might

only be met in approximation, but grasping the

guiding idea might certainly help one to act in an

ethically conscious and responsible way.

After this deontological excursion into moral

philosophy let us look at another example of ethical

misconduct in the workplace. Critical Path Inc, a

company that provides outsourced email and web-

messaging services, was founded in 1997 and had its

IPO in 1999.21 This was during the heyday of in-

ternet stocks, and since most companies were not

turning a profit, analysts and investors focused

on revenues, rather than profits, as the basis for

determining how well a company was performing. In

the quarter ended June 2000, the company reported

revenues of $33.5 million and a net loss of over

$20 million. But, since the corporate executives had

determined to sell the company, keeping the com-

pany a darling of Wall Street became the primary

objective (Elgin, 2001). This meant reinforcing the

view that the company was growing rapidly. When

reporting the quarterly results the president an-

nounced that the firm expected to turn a profit by the

quarter ending December 2000, that same year. The

increased revenues were expected to come primarily

from the revenues of acquired companies.

By late September 2000, it had become evident to

insiders that Critical Path would not meet Wall

Street’s expectations for quarterly revenue or earn-

ings. As the company approached the fourth quarter

2000, according to the SEC, Critical Path’s president

and its sales chief concluded there were no legitimate

means by which Critical Path could achieve the

ambitious revenue and earnings goals the company

had announced.22 With the company’s reputation

and ‘‘sale value’’ at stake, the president along with

several other key individuals, including some vice-

presidents, concocted a few bogus sales and other

transactions, all of which made it appear that the

company had reached sales targets. As Business Week

(Aug 6, 2001) reported, the company’s focus was on

increasing the stock price and not strengthening the


At the same time, behind the scenes, the president

and others were quietly selling their shares of Critical

Path. One executive thought that ‘‘Critical Path was

playing with fire and [he] decided to sell 1,300 shares

of his company stock before he got burned’’ (Liedtke,

2002).23 According to a class action lawsuit against the

company filed in early February 2001, top insiders

sold their Critical Path stock for as much as $78 per

22 Edwin R. Micewski and Carmelita Troy



share. Once the irregularities were announced, the

stock price fell to below $4 per share.24 Critical Path

employees in the know avoided losses of over

$900,000 because of illegal insider trading.25

Those unfortunate enough to not have insider

information saw the value of their Critical Path shares

drop from a high of over $300 per share in September

2000 to a low of $3 per share in April 2001. One

investor, who lost her nest egg in the Critical Path

debacle, brought it down to the point: ‘‘I just

don’t think they realized that they were playing

with other people’s money.’’26 Not only were they

playing with the fortunes of their shareholders, they

were also playing with the livelihoods of their

employees. In order to survive under the cloud of

allegations of accounting fraud and an SEC investi-

gation, the company laid off 450 of its employees,

which accounted for about half of the company


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