Doctrine of Caveat Emptor

Topics: Social contract, Product liability, Thomas Hobbes Pages: 8 (3088 words) Published: December 15, 2011
In general, it was believed that the business have the duty responsibility to provide products that fulfill the claims that the business explicitly made about the products on the markets to their consumers. Consumers form expectations about the products they are going to buy based on those claims and thus, leads them enter into a buying contract. The company has the duty to provide consumers what they pay for. However, consumers today were assumed to be wise, knowledgeable and doubtful. The doctrine of caveat emptor, meaning “let the buyer beware”, proclaims that consumers were entitled to buy at their own risk unless a warranty is given by the sellers. It was because that the consumers nowadays have their absolute right to choose what they want to buy freely; therefore, they were expected to take the responsibility to inspect and check any potential buying carefully based on their own judgment and were asked to accept the risk that the products have the possibility to be either defective or unsuitable to their needs.

Products with this information prevented sellers or manufactures from any lawsuit regarding to consumers’ negligence and carelessness during the buying or using processes that the consumers might get injured when they use the products they bought. Anyhow, the doctrine of caveat emptor is not designed to protect the sellers/manufacturers who trying to concealed any hidden defects or making misleading claims about the quality or condition of the products they sold that may amounting to fraud and bad faith of the company so consumers must clearly know their rights and be alert to any possible scams. Nevertheless, product safety is an ethical obligation nowadays, so the products were assumed to be safe for ordinary use all the time. Product liability comprises “all claims or action brought for personal inquiry, death, or property damage caused by the manufacture, design, formula, preparation, assembly, installation, testing, warnings, instructions, marketing, packaging, or labeling of any product” according to Section 102(2) of Uniform Product Liability Act. Although the consumers are still required to check upon buying, the responsibilities of sellers and manufacturers upon products safety were increased even more in this modern trend. Hence, there are few ethical theories regarding to product liability can be discuss here.

The social contract theory that connected modern moral with political theory was first introduced by the 17th century British philosopher Thomas Hobbes. He had came out with a view of psychological egoism which held that one’s actions are motivated by self-desires. Everything one does is solely prompted by the desire to better one’s situation, and to satisfied as many of one’s desires as possible. Human beings are eternally appetitive and truly only concerned with their own interests. An action that seems selfless might still contains the element of selfishness. For example one who donates to the charity might still enjoy the feeling of control over others at the same time. Therefore, the theory of psychological egoism sustained that eventually the most important factors which driving the human’s acts is their own interests. On top of this founding, Hobbes had developed the social contract theory. It was one of a kind of the normative theory. The social contract theory can be related to the “rule-ethical-egoism”. It indicated that an individual is well off to live in a moral-based society than a society with no moral rules. Without the existence of moral rules, people were threatened by others’ selfish interests at a continual risk no matter their property, prestige, families, or even their lives. The selfishness of each individual will therefore prompted to an adoption of a fundamental set of rules for a more civilized world. These rules prohibited any criminal acts like lying, robbing or killing that might threaten individual safety. In other words, these rules will safe guard any...
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