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Utility Ethics in Organizations
John is a warehouse supervisor who works for a national
company that sells high-quality (and very expensive) electronics – e.g., HD
television sets, business and home computers, and business and personal
laptops. John has a high school education, and has been employed by the company
for 10 years. Recently, John was promoted to an exempt (salaried) low-level
management position; his present annual salary is $60,000. Over the past two
months, John has been stealing HD television sets from his employer – and reselling
them. To date, he has stolen $15,000 in merchandise. When John’s wife – Jane –
takes note of the rapid growth in the family’s savings account, she asks John
about the source of the money. John’s astonished response is: “Jane! Are
you kidding? Consider the extra money as a company bonus — well, it’s
sort of a bonus anyway….Look, Jane, while I make better money than I used to,
it’s not enough compensation for all the stuff I do. This company can afford to
pay me far more than what they pay – and they choose not to. The way I look at
it, I’ve earned this extra money! It’s a well-deserved and hard-earned
bonus, Jane. You know that we can barely pay our bills. I’m doing what is best
for our family! I have to do what I think is best for my family, even if I know
it might be wrong!”
What are the utility ethics raised in this situation? Be specific!
Week 2 Suppose that a jet mechanic working for a major airline – we’ll call the airline “AirXYZ” – finds a serious instrument wiring problem while inspecting one of the airline’s newest jets. The mechanic alerts management that the wiring problem is serious enough that it would cause the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ground the entire fleet of AirXYZ.
Discuss the ethics of this situation in the context of utility ethics. What are the benefits and the costs to AirXYZ in choosing to notify the FAA and in opting to voluntarily ground its fleet of planes?
In the above case, John believes that stealing is not bad especially when the company can pay him more. He believes his actions are justified and the stealing is nothing but a process of earning extra money. John perceived his actions as a way of compensating himself and a form of wealth distribution. The spirit of utility ethics excuses his action as the end result which is his family happiness matters. If Jane corrects the action or reports the action, then it will cause unhappiness in the family and if she does not act on the vices she is again encouraging displeasure to the company management.
Despite John not having the needed qualification, he is given an exempted job position and given salary increment. This action of giving favors to the undeserving is unethical and cause unhappiness to the rest.
ethics is mainly concerned with the results of ethical decisions. The notion
that of the ethics is that the consequence of the action is the main
determinant of the morality of an action (McCartney & Parent, 2016). According to this
school of ethics, a person is likely to do the correct thing if the
repercussion of the action is good. It is ethical for the mechanic of the
AirXYZ to notify the company of the looming danger as the consequence will be
positive, saving the life. It is also ethical for the company to notify the FAA
of the danger of the wire in order to avoid action. The benefits of AirXYZ to notify the FAA are
there will be increased operation transparency and accountability. The cost
effectiveness of notifying the FAA is there will be increased cost of
inspection and probably more inspection will be conducted on the fleet further
paralyzing the operation.
McCartney, S., & Parent, R. (2016). Ethical Systems. Retrieved July 13, 2017, from https://opentextbc.ca/ethicsinlawenforcement/chapter/2-2-utilitarian-ethics/
Nathanson, S. (2015). Act and Rule Utilitarianism. Retrieved July 13, 2017, from Northeastern University: http://www.iep.utm.edu/util-a-r/
White, R. F. (2011). THE PRINCIPLE OF UTILITY. Retrieved July 13, 2017, from https://faculty.msj.edu/whiter/utility.htm