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Utilitarianism, Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 1203

Essay

Introduction

From a utilitarian point of view, the case study example in question demonstrates that Ford Motor Company did not make decisions and perform actions that were for the greater good of the company and its customers, and in reality, created a set of circumstances that led to unnecessary risk and harm for the business. Ford’s decision to produce the Pinto with inexpensive parts and subsequently create risk for the drivers of this vehicle supports the belief that Ford did not make an ethically responsible decision with this approach to the manufacture of this vehicle. On the contrary, Ford acted irresponsibly and placed its customers at risk with the vehicles that were produced.

Moral Argument

The decision made by Ford to use lower quality parts in its line of Pintos was an ethically irresponsible and inappropriate decision that led to a high level of risk for the drivers of this motor vehicle. According to Bentham and Mill, decisions should be made that will contribute to the greater good of those impacted by these choices; therefore, this will facilitate a positive outcome for a larger number of people (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). From this perspective, Ford clearly acted against the greater good for its customers by manufacturing its Pintos with a less than desirable part, thereby placing drivers at a high risk of danger. Therefore, Ford’s actions were unnecessarily spiteful and reprehensible, given the options that they had, and represent selfishness and greed rather than selflessness and support for others.

The utilitarian view of individuals and society is to achieve happiness through specific actions that are morally appropriate and positive in nature (New Advent). Under ideal circumstances, Ford would have made the decision to produce its line of Pintos with a more expensive and higher quality part that would have led to a saver driving experience for its customers. This would have also created an opportunity for Ford’s customers to develop a greater sense of trust in the company and its products. However, since this was not the case and customers were placed at a higher risk by driving these vehicles, Ford took a morally irresponsible approach to the needs of its customers in this manner.

The decision made by Ford to produce the Pinto with dangerous and low quality parts was unacceptable and goes against any and all utilitarian perspectives regarding moral and ethical decision-making. In this context, it is observed that the organization made a conscious decision to manufacture this line of automobiles with faulty parts, knowing that this decision could pose a number of dangerous risks to drivers. The challenge of remaining competitive led Ford to make this careless decision and to place its drivers at risk because these cars were unsafe to drive because their gas tanks could rupture and explode, causing a massive fire (Dowie). Therefore, the company knowingly produced faulty gas tanks and sold these vehicles to consumers throughout the United States (Dowie). Although the company knew that the gas tank was defective and unsafe for driving, the continued the manufacturing process anyways and did not look back (Dowie). This choice clearly demonstrates a blatant misrepresentation of Ford’s desire to produce motor vehicles that were safe to drive and would not pose any excessive risk for their customers (Dowie). With this decision, Ford created an environment of mistrust and immorality that the organization would forever be remembered for in the public eye (Dowie). Based upon the utilitarian approach, these actions went against the basic concept of safety for drivers, an expectation that customers have when they purchase a new vehicle. Since Ford went against the grain and manufactured the car without hesitation, knowing that it was unsafe, their lack of responsibility was abhorrent and morally unacceptable on all levels. In addition, this decision did not reflect the capacity of the organization to act in a morally and ethically responsible manner and stand by its products by offering safer models; on the contrary, the organization was largely ineffective and irresponsible, going against the utilitarian view of decision-making and of life.

Alternative

In this case example, Ford had two basic choices: either produce the car with the faulty part knowing that this would lead to higher risks for drivers, or recall the vehicles that had already been manufactured and replace the faulty gas tanks with safer parts. From a business point of view, the organization chose the most irresponsible alternative and paid the consequences for these actions (DeGeorge). If the organization had chosen the latter, there could have been an entirely different outcome for the business, as it would have performed its actions towards the greater good of its customers. This would have been an appropriate decision and could have created a more positive image for the organization and its people. This positive alternative would have also demonstrated that Ford Motor Company put their customers and their safety and wellbeing well ahead of their own greed and selfishness. This could have enabled Ford Customers to gain trust in the organization and in the quality of its products. The choice that Ford made was inexcusable, particularly since it would not have been that difficult to manufacture the Pinto with the safer gas tank and to repair the existing vehicles, given the consequences that the organization faced for its poor decision-making capabilities and lack of ethical responsibility in this case example.

Conclusion

The decision made by the Ford Motor Company in the 1970s to manufacture its line of Pintos with faulty gas tanks is irreprehensible and inexcusable. At the same time, this decision goes against the fabric of morally and ethically appropriate behaviors and demonstrates that Ford Motor Company did not have the best interests and the greater good of its customers in mind. These negative decisions also demonstrated that Ford chose to exercise its sheer greed and selfishness rather than to make a positive decision that would benefit its customers and their wellbeing. In this case example, Ford made a very poor decision by moving forward with the faulty parts in its Pintos and did not do themselves any favors by continuing this practice, which led to serious consequences. At the time the decision was made, Ford believed that its own bottom line was more important than the safety of its customers and therefore, made a completely irresponsible decision. If the company had acted using the utilitarian point of view, the outcomes would have been very different because the company would have acted in the best interests of its customers in order to produce the greatest possible good for this group of people. Their actions would have led to positive outcomes and a safer product for the consumer marketplace. However, by knowingly continuing to manufacture these unsafe vehicles, the lives of its customers were placed at risk and in some instances, in grave danger. These elements were integral to the organization’s poor reputation and safety record during this debacle of the 1970s. Ford’s decision lacked the utilitarian perspective and thereby created a disastrous and morally irresponsible approach to its customer base.

Works Cited

DeGeorge, Richard T. Business Ethics, 7th Edition. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education Inc., 2010.

Dowie, Mark. “Pinto Madness.” Mother Jones, 18 April 2013: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1977/09/pinto-madness

New Advent. “Utilitarianism.” 18 April 2013: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15241c.htm

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. “The history of utilitarianism.” 18 April 2013:http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/utilitarianism-history/

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