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Product Ethics


1) How serious does a risk have to be (how many reports of what kinds of harms must a company know about) in order for it to be ethically appropriate to recall a product? Should Dell have recalled four million batteries at the first whiff of smoke? Should Dell have waited longer? How (and when) should Ford have responded to the Pinto's safety problems? Explain.

2) What are some of the obvious and less obvious ethical issues involved in product recalls? How might these ethical issues come into conflict with a particular company's economic concerns? Given these issues, did Dell respond adequately to the known problems with their batteries? What explains the difference between Dell's response in the case of their laptop batteries and Ford's response in the case of the Pinto?

3) What are the various pros and cons of using cost-benefit analyses as a way of measuring whether safety measures are worthwhile? Can cost-benefits analyses be implemented ethically? Explain.


Solution Preview

It seems that multiple strong positions can be argued from the reading and questions presented. These thoughts ought to get you started on your own to the point of being able to make such an argument, should you honestly feel one of them.

Starting from the first question and going from there, my opinion is that any kind of question about ethics has to account for context, which in this case is business. After all, we are discussing ethics in terms of products and profit margin. Therefore, for something to be considered "ethical enough" to warrant attention and/or corrective action, the risk must at least impinge upon the company's bottom line. What we mean by that is simply this: if the customers or relevant government do not care enough to negatively impact the company's profits concerning the product, an ethical warrant does not exist. It is true and a rightful counter concern that a company not be held ...

Solution Summary

The ethics surrounding the consumption and offering of a product on the market are discussed in brief, using a few prearranged examples.