about business ethics

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Ford is a major automaker headquartered in the United States. However, the company was criticized for launching a truck variant known as the Ford Pinto, which took the lives of many people. The concept was created quickly and provided road users with a safety challenge (Dowie, 1977). In particular, the fuel system can easily burst in the event of a rear-end collision. At the early stages of production, Ford engineers tested the model and discovered that this flaw was likely to occur. This was explained to executives who were hesitant to improve the architecture in order to save lives. Instead, the company’s top management argued that redesigning the car would increase the cost of production and reduce their profit margins. Even when it was evident that the design flaw was causing accidents on American roads, the executive did not order for the recall of the vehicle arguing that it was the drivers and the pedestrians who were to blame for the accidents.

Egoist ethics dictate that people act out of their selfish interests (Holmes, 2014). Thus, an individual action is solely motivated by that particular person achieving his or her goals. By using the egoist ethics, the Ford executives were right in their actions. Ford, just like any other business enterprise is interested in making profits. The company’s top brass pursued this goal by minimizing the cost of production so as to maximize profits. In doing so, they never paid attention to the lives of other people. Rather, they were interested in making profits.

Act Utilitarian ethics dictate that before an individual takes action, he or she must put into consideration the possible consequences and outcomes (Holmes, 2014). In such a situation, all the costs and benefits which would accrue to all the stakeholders must be put under consideration. The approach aims at achieving the maximum benefit for the largest number of people. By applying the utalitaritarian approach, Ford executive would have considered the lives of the drivers of their cars, passengers, and pedestrians. Thus, the best decision would have to design a car which would minimize the loss of lives and at the same time ensure that the firm remains profitable.

According to rule utilitarianism, the correctness of any act depends on the correctness principles that allow it to produces the greatest good (Holmes, 2014). The rules in Ford’s case dictate that the manufacturers of automobiles must have the safety of other road users at mind. Thu, any car manufacturer must produce vehicles which ensure the maximum safety of all the road users. If the Ford executives applied this ethical principle, they would have cars which do not pose a threat to the lives of road users.

Kantian-based duty ethics mainly deal with the individual actions and not the consequences of such acts (Holmes, 2014). Consequently, people are supposed to do the right thing all the time because that is the correct thing to do. Additionally, all the people should refrain from doing evil since bad things are wrong. By applying this principle, Ford executives would have insisted on the production of vehicles which adhere to safety standards. In this scenario, profit motivation would not be the underlying force. Rather, they would be doing this since saving people’s lives is the best thing to do at all the time.

According to the Divine Command Duty Ethics, morality is based on being obedience to God. Consequently, people need to engage in actions which show respect and obedience to God (Holmes, 2014). Although there are numerous religions on earth, the theory holds that morality depends on God. For Ford executives, the best decision was to save live lives. God created the universe and everything which lines under the sun. As a result, human beings have an obligation of taking care of God’s creation. By designing cars which pose minimal risk to the lives of people. Ford’s executive would be obeying God by protecting His creation. Thus according to this approach, Ford executives have a moral obligation of adhering to motor vehicle safety standards. It is a decision which would have shown obedience to the Almighty Lord’s will.

According to virtue ethics, a right action is one which a morally upright person would do under any scenario. Thus people should strive to be of a good character and engage in the measures which a right man would endeavor to do (Holmes, 2014). The approach emphasizes on character attributes of the actors. In Ford’s case, the members of the executive team had the obligation of doing what a virtuous person would have done under the same circumstances. The best decision would have been producing cars which improve the safety of all the road users. Such an act rises above the selfish interests of profit maximization and shows the concern for others. Additionally, they would have assisted the government in improving the legislative and regulatory framework to ensure all the manufacturers adhere to the best safety standards. A virtuous person would have insisted on this since it is an indication an excellent character.


Dowie, M. (1977). How Ford put two million firetraps on wheel. Business & Society Review (00453609), (23).

Holmes, R. L. (2014). Basic moral philosophy. Cengage Learning.


October 25, 2022

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