Bill Daniels was a business leader who followed his principles and values throughout his career. Most know of Bill Daniels as a pioneer in cable television, starting with his first cable business in Casper, Wyoming in 1953. Bill went on to own and operate hundreds of cable TV systems across the country. He founded Daniels & Associates, a nationally recognized provider of investment banking services to media and technology companies. His leadership helped bring numerous high-tech and communications companies to Colorado.
Bill attributed adoption of ethical principles to his experiences with sports coaches while attending high school at the New Mexico Military Institute. He strove to build a reputation of integrity. The following story demonstrates Bill’s principle-based moral reasoning in action.
In 1952, Bill opened a small insurance agency in Casper, Wyoming, and struggled to make it over the next three years. Then in 1955, one of the insurance companies he represented went broke, leaving the policyholders high and dry. Bill stepped in for his client, feeling that he had represented the terms and his integrity was at stake. As he explained:
“Two weeks after the bankruptcy, Burlington Railroad sued one of my clients—to whom I had sold a liability policy—for $12,500. A judgment was entered against my client for $11,000. I made a deal with Burlington Railroad to pay this judgment off at $500 per month, over a 22-month period. I did not have to do this, but I had a strong conviction that I owed this to my insured who had placed his faith in my handling of his insurance business. During this time, the $500 payment was more than I was making per month. I managed, however, through borrowing and juggling of finances, to do this.” (The Life & Legacy of Bill Daniels, 2012, p. 118)
After reading about Bill Daniels and the story about the insurance company in Chapter 5 of Gonzalez-Padron (2015), answer the following questions in essay form:
•Which ethical tradition best describes Bill’s decision to pay the client from his own funds?
•Did he approach the decision using a rules-based, virtue or relationship-based, or outcome-based approach, or a combination of approaches?
•Bill credits sports coaches for progression to higher stages of moral development. What other factors could motivate someone to develop higher levels of moral reasoning?
•Can you think of a person who demonstrates principle-based ethics? How do this person’s actions reflect a highly developed moral reasoning?