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Utilitarian First Paper
The theory of utilitarianism is one of the most influential in business ethics. The founder of the traditional utilitarian theory is Jeremy Bentham. In his writings, Bentham developed the technique of searching for objective criteria for measuring values, which was to provide a simple and satisfactory evaluation of an economic point of view, determining the adequacy of social policy and social legislation. In his point of view, the most effective criteria could serve as the extent to which course of action and the existing laws, the usefulness and harmfulness of activity according to the evaluation of its consequences can develop (Smart and Williams 68).
An action is lawful from an ethical point of view if the total useful effect of this action exceeds the combined beneficial effect of any other action that could be done instead of the first one (Smart and Williams 71).
Thus, the principle of utilitarianism requires the ability to measure the possible benefits produced by taking actions, and compare them with amount of negative results, what consequently will help to determine which actions will maximize the net profit or minimize absolute costs (Smart and Williams 72). Therefore, on the basis of this principle, quantitative measurement of all types of income and expenses can be made, using some common numerical scale to realize the addition or subtraction of certain values of the unknown parameters.
If the principle of utilitarianism states that this specific action is lawful, as it has a higher utility than any other appropriate act, it does not mean that it is a lawful act, which brings the maximum benefit to the person who commits it. More certain is the following assertion that is a legitimate action that brings the maximum benefit to all those people who are within the scope of the results of the action including the person who commits this action (Sheng 112).
It is right to consider that the final analysis is a legitimate action, which gives the greatest net profit compared to other options. Finally, it would be a mistake to think that the principle of utilitarianism suggests the need to consider only the direct and immediate results of the actions. On the contrary, the analysis of all possible options should be taken into account as the current positive and negative effects in the form of costs and benefits, and to predict their consequences including any results.
Moral considerations require evaluation of the interests of all parts along with their own interests (Sheng 94). The case under analysis is Ford Pinto case that became famous for the dilemma between the costs of repairs and costs of human lives. The automobile company decided to win the competition and to develop a new car model that would weigh less than 2000 pounds and cost less than $2,000 (DeGeorge 298). The design of the car was done so fast that there were no time left for safety testing of the new model.
The tests were taken and the results showed that the back side of the car put the driver in danger. It happened as a result of the high percentage of explosion possibility as a result of a hit into the rear side of the car (DeGeorge 298). The company developed a calculation of costs that would be spent by the company to fix the problem and change the bad detail. They compared these costs to the amount of money they would have to pay off as results of suits against their company. The result of the comparison was that the company refused the idea of repairs and released the car to the mass production. The customers were not informed about the possible danger of their cars as well as they were not offered to buy the necessary detail for repairs. As a result, the number of accidents was double the figure planned by the company and the costs of suits exceeded the initial costs of repairs (DeGeorge 299). Moreover, the moral question comes into action as it is not possible to measure or calculate the human life.
However, the company managed to do that putting the lives of hundreds of people at stake. From the utilitarian point of view, the politics of the company cannot be justified as the level of happiness was not equal to all the participants of the action. Moreover, the wrong decision cost 18 human lives. Ford Company was at fault for production of products of a bad quality what resulted in accidents. It would be better to turn back the cars after the first accidents. Moreover, it would be moral to inform the potential buyers about the danger with the cars they purchase and to offer them a proper detail they could buy to make their driving in Pinto safer. On the other hand, after the first accidents people continued buying the cheap car model, and knew that their lives were endangered while driving.
Ford Pinto case became an example of the most vivid example of a situation when costs and benefits meant more than a human life for the companies. The decision of production of low quality cars was immoral, and it was not right to keep silent about the situation. Alternative solutions include different development of the action. Among them there is a variant of car modification with the aim of enhanced safety. This decision would demonstrate the companys responsibility for the peoples lives and would mean that the company is reliable and just. However, for now the case of Ford Pinto is one of the brightest examples of wrong politics of the company that ruins the reputation and lowers the level of trust towards the company. From the moral and ethical point of view, the idea of a priceless human life should be the leading one.