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Ford is a major automaker headquartered in the United States. However, the company was criticized for launching a car concept called the Ford Pinto, which took the lives of many people. The concept was created quickly and posed a safety threat to car users (Dowie, 1977). In particular, the fuel system can easily burst in the event of a rear-end collision. Ford engineers tested the model during the early stages of development and discovered this flaw in the structure. The problem was conveyed to the management, who were unable to improve the concept because it would be costly. Therefore, the company’s top management argued that redesigning the car would increase the cost of production and reduce their profit margins. Even when it became clear that the design flaw was causing accidents on the roads, the executives did not order for the recall of the vehicles, 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). Therefore, 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 managers pursued this goal by minimizing the cost of production so as to maximize the profits. In doing so, they did not pay attention to the lives of other people. Rather, they were interested in making profits.
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 executives would have considered the lives of the drivers of their cars, the passengers, and the pedestrians. That is why the best decision would have been to design a car which would minimize the loss of lives and at the same time ensure that the firm remains profitable.
According to rules of utilitarianism, the correctness of any act depends on the correctness principles that allow it to produce 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 in mind. Therefore, 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 people on the road.
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. 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 acting responsibly, as saving people’s lives is always the best thing to do.
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, if they adhered to these ethics, the best decision would have been to save lives. According to these ethical norms, God created the universe and everything on this planet. As a result, human beings have an obligation of taking care of God’s creation. One of the possible examples of such behavior is designing cars which pose minimal risk to the lives of people. Ford’s executives would be obeying God by protecting His creations. Therefore, 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 Lord’s will.
According to virtue ethics, a right action is one which a morally upright person would do under any scenario. This means that people should strive to be of good character and engage in actions 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 to do 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 road users. Such an act rises above the selfish interests of profit maximization and shows the company’s 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 of excellent character.
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