Custom «Ethical Principles in "Glengarry Glen Ross"» Essay Paper Sample

Ethical Principles in

Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) is one of the best anti-business ethics manuals of all times. A masterly-framed screenplay by David Mamet and profound directing work by James Foley served its best in the delivery of the basic real estate principle “kill of being killed.” The representative of the Mitch and Murray company, Blake played by Alec Baldwin, serves as a motivational firestarter of movie’s action and the embodiment of company’s ethics and competition. Glengarry Glen Ross reveals the turning of an underdog real estate selling company into a literal wasps’ nest. Illusory peace within the context of salesmen figures is abruptly stirred by Blake, who delivers the primary business principle of Mitch and Murray, “sell or be fired”. From the contemporary viewpoint, ethical principles are not taken into consideration having a double effect on company’s employees. On the one hand, this “business cruelty” results in aspiration to succeed. Moreover, it tarnishes human relationships and absolutizes the goal of “killing for something”. Though the majority of characters like Levene, Moss, and Aaronow perceive their inability of fulfilling the task, they accept the rules of the game not willing to be fired. Lies, bribery, burglary, set-up, and ruthlessness become tools of task fulfillment, largely supported and played into the hands of department head Williamson.

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Bentham’s Utilitarism in Blake’s Character

Utilitarism plays a crucial part in the movie. It apparently distracts from the “regular” understanding of satisfaction and happiness and displays it through the most apparent example of a utilitarian follower, Blake. Several primary points are considered to observe character’s attribution to the concepts. Firstly, Blake’s seven-minute motivational speech “maximizes utility” of Mitch and Murray (Harris, 2006, p. 122). It does not appeal to the feelings or personal encouragement of the group, but reflects the primary principles of his firm, namely, maximizing profit at any cost through the ABC model (“always be closing”). Blake encourages salesmen to use every tool in their possession to accomplish a deal and to bring the money to the firm. Accordingly, the salesmen are not observed as individuals, but merely as a tool for goal’s achievement. Blake simplifies company’s actions through the four-stage model of deal closing, AIDA (“attention, interest, decision, action”). According to him, it increases company’s profits and prevents the salesmen from inefficiency.

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Secondly, Blake “blends” company’s success with every employee’s pleasure (Harris, 2006, p. 124). In his opinion, every worker should consider company’s profits as the highest priority in his life. In return, he boasts of his elements of social wealth (car, watches, and others) to reveal firm’s gratefulness to him. Accordingly, Blake thinks that maximizing company’s profits is the key to maximizing personal wealth. As a result, human aspirations should link to the company and fully comply with each other. This “rational” understanding of pleasure being receiving the wealth (pleasure) in exchange for efforts (pain) also relates Blake’s behavior to Bentham’s theory.

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Thirdly, Blake is utterly “immoral” from the humanistic viewpoint. This statement complies with “act-utilitarism” perspective of Bentham who advocated for committing immoral acts for the “greater good” (Harris, 2006, p. 126). He equalizes the willpower to action and to being “manly” (“Are you man enough to take them [money]?”) and willingly insults employee’s self-esteem to gain the right motivation. Similarly to Bentham’s allusion to slavery to establish the well-being of Ancient Greece, Blake considers his methods just for inefficient employees. If they do not bring profits, they are not worth his attention.

Happiness and Unhappiness in Blake’s Rules

Blake’s happiness is fully connected with the success of the firm. He is both a result and embodiment of firm’s achievements. His understanding of pleasure complies with “preference utilitarianism” that implies the measuerement of pleasure and pain through the use of the Hedonistic Calculus based on its duration, intensity, propinquity, fecundity, certainty, extent, and purity (Harris, 2006, p. 134). Thus, the duration and intensity of happiness are equal to efficient closing of a deal, bringing about satisfaction. Fecundity implies work satisfaction in the form of material symbols (for example, displaying his car and watches to reveal his superiority over the rest of the employees). Self-assurance originates from the certainty of obtaining pleasure from professionally-accomplished work. The extent of Blake’s happiness depends on firm’s success having connection to his positive feelings. Finally, Blake is not concerned with the purity of the pleasure, since he justifies his actions by firm’s benefits. 

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On the other hand, the absence of profits causes unhappiness. Blake directly calls his audience “losers” and “bums” to outline their miserable financial and social state. For him, “not-closing” a deal is the only option that should make an employee unhappy since he has not brought profits and improved his material state.

Blake’s Ethical/Unethical Behavior

Blake’s “ethics” coincides with the materialistic success of his firm. He uses numerous unethical arguments from a list of fallacies to persuade employees. Thus, anecdotal fallacy appeals to his personal story of success that does not necessarily wait for every person in a room. Blake appeals to fear to motivate employees. He implements the three places winning initiative that comprises Cadillac El Dorado, a set of knives and firing to bring company’s subsidiary to action. A drastic difference in “prizes” reveals a subsequent attitude of Blake’s firm to people, namely, their division into “sorts,” where the winner takes all, and the loser looses more than he has expected (Foley, 1992).

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Blake appeals to the wealth revealing the difference between himself and employees according to the model, “I’m not with you” meaning “I am not with the losers like you” (Foley, 1992). He humiliates them by showing his superiority, as well as numerously curses and turns his insults from direct orders to questioning their watches price. Moreover, Blake uses conjunction fallacy equaling professional success to personal happiness. If a person has an expensive watch and a premium car, the one is happy and superior to others. According to the utilitarian theory, Blake’s rules are unethical in relation to employees as sentient beings though his principles are fully functional in business.

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Human Relationships and Blake’s Rules

Finally, Blake removes the illusion of control over the career of employees. He assaults the team with direct orders “Sit”, “Stand”, and “You’re fired”. He appeals to having coffee as a privilege “for closers” that should make the team ashamed of their failures. If an employee does not bring profit, Blake stigmatizes him as a “loser” for life, “I came here because Mitch & Murray asked me for a favor. I said the real favor is to follow my advice and fire your fuckin’ ass because a loser is a loser” (Foley, 1992). Through the implementation of the prize system, Blake expresses his personal division of people into three categories. Eventually, employees accept his principles. Thus, Moss burglars the office, Levene aims at bribing his boss Williamson, and Aaronow is called for committing a crime. Despite the lack of success in their activities, employees continue “fighting” over the symbolic place setting each other to the police. As a result of Blake’s rules, all of them become criminals.

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Glengarry Glen Ross reveals the practical usage of Bentham’s theories in a contemporary American business. According to this movie, the success of this system lies in the ability of the full abandonment of humanistic morals in favor of usefulness and maximization of company’s profits at any cost. Thus, every action is observed beneficial and good if it serves firm’s success and personal enrichment.

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