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The Ford Pinto - Business Ethics Case Study

By:   •  January 15, 2016  •  Coursework  •  878 Words (4 Pages)  •  7,177 Views

Page 1 of 4

CASE 2.2


Discussion Questions

1. Although the Pinto passed the NHTSA test, Ford officials knew that the Pinto was prone to catch fire when struck from the rear, even in low-speed collisions, thus it was unsafe to drive the car without any technical improvements implemented. Yet, Ford’s management decided to ignore the matter and push ahead with the original design based on the reasoning, at least in part, that the costs of the suggested safety improvements outweigh their benefits of enhancing the consumer safety. Whether Ford’s decision to stick with the original design even knowing its consequences is morally right or wrong is the moral issue that the Pinto case raises.

2. According to egoism, Ford officials are only obliged to do whatever best promotes their own interests. Therefore, they have no obligation to upgrade the Pinto’s fuel tank which requires the firm to spend larger costs on producing the Pinto.

From the perspective of utilitarianism, the morally right action is the one that provides the most happiness for all those affected. In light of this notion, even with the misfortune of those in connection with rear-end accidents in the Pinto, the saving expenses induced by Ford’s decision still provides more happiness for Ford’s officials and consumers satisfied with the Pinto’s low price.

The Kant’s theory held that only when one acts from duty does one’s action have moral worth. As a result, if Ford’s officials don’t consider the duty of implementing fuel-tank modifications, it would be of no moral worth even when they decide to fix the Pintos in the end.

3. By putting the NHTSA figures together with other statistical studies, Ford established a cost-benefit analysis involving both the interests of the consumers and the company itself. Therefore, Ford did give equal consideration to the interests of each affected party.

4. Cost-benefit analysis is a legitimate tool, which determines the best course of action by comparing the costs and benefits generated through a particular situation. The example of cost-benefit analysis given in the case study doesn’t provide a comprehensive approach that leads to a morally right action. The value of the individual victim’s lives cannot be gauged by a dollars-and-cents figure, so basing the benefits on the monetary value of human life is not only inhumanitarian but also injures individual’s rights.

5. Kant’s theory suggests that as rational creatures we should always treat other rational creatures as ends in themselves and never as only means to our own ends. By placing a monetary value on a human life, it violates Kant’s belief that every human being has an inherent worth and that they would never wish to be used as if they were entities possessing value only as means to an end.

6. Ford had the responsibility of providing its customers with the best safety features when using its automobiles. Consequently, customers own the rights to expect the vehicles to function accordingly.

7. It would have made no moral difference even if the savings resulting from not improving the Pinto gas tank had been passed on to Ford’s customers.


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