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Business Ethics Essays

(1) Is cost-benefit analysis a legitimate tool? Is it’s application to non-economic matters – say to calculating the value of human life – ethically justifiable? What would Immanuel Kant say about placing a monetary value on human life? Is doing so ever morally legitimate? What would an utilitarian say about placing a monetary value on human life? (View the Sandel-video very, very carefully, generate your own notes on Jeremy Bentham's and John Stuart Mill's utilitarian theory and only then answer the question.)

(2) The maxim of Ford’s action might be stated thus: “When it would cost more to make a safety improvement than not, it’s all right not to make it.” Can this maxim be universalized? Does it treat humans as ends in themselves? Would manufacturers be willing to abide by it if the positions were reversed and they were in the role of consumers?

(3) Is it wrong for business to sell a product that is not as safe as it could be, given current technology? Is it wrong to sell a vehicle that is less safe than competing products on the market? Are there limits to how far automakers must go in the name of safety? (In answering this set of questions, you have to familiarize yourselves thoroughly with the content of Lee's article. Only then you will be able to answer the questions in a way that is sensitive to the actual historical context of the Pinto case.)

(4) Assess the decision not to recall the Pinto in connection with Audi’s discussion of the social responsibilities of business contained in Chapter 3. Determine what groups might have had a stake (or even a legitimate interest) in Ford’s decision? What is meant by astake and a legitimate interest? Did Ford Motor Company violate any given negative or positive right of consumers and society at large?

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