The Case of Worldcom and Betty Vinson

Topics: Morality, Ethics, Jean Piaget Pages: 2 (680 words) Published: March 31, 2012
I believe that corporate employees working within the confines and rules of the organization, have all the tools required to act ethically. When an individual is asked to do something that they may even suspect would be detrimental to their livelihood, then they have all the rights given to them to not follow through with that action. In the case of Betty Vinson of WorldCom, while she had the clear understanding that her actions were wrong, she clearly kept personal financial safety ahead of her moral and ethical standards. This eventually translated into an even more detrimental result, which was jail time. She clearly did not have a fully developed moral compass, which would have prompted her to either refuse to make the fraudulent entries, or leave her job immediately, if the first was not an option.

Lawrence Kohlberg defined six stages of moral reasoning, which he broke down into three different levels. I believe that Betty Vinson fell into level one, obedience and punishment orientation, to be specific. As stated earlier, she was emphatically against making the fraudulent accounting entries because she understood that they were wrong, she even went as far as making the initial decision to resign from her position. However, she was afraid to quit her position because she feared that it would have been extremely difficult to obtain a similar job at her age. As Kohlberg described the pre-conventional level, whereby this is “a level of moral reasoning is especially common in children, although adults can also exhibit this level of reasoning. Reasoners at this level judge the morality of an action by its direct consequences.” Therefore, Ms. Vinson directly ignored her moral compass because its direct consequences were dire to her personally, and even more so, from a financial perspective. It is true that she had the moral reasoning of a child.

I am inclined to question the point that Kohlberg makes, which is that Ms. Vinson lacked free will. As an...
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