Ethics Assignment

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The first ethical issue concerns the numerous safety issues that surround the launch and subsequent production of Dentex’s new subcompact automobile, the Rento. Dentex did not conduct surveys and follow due diligence in performing preliminary engineering procedures, resulting in a car that lacks sufficient crush space, reinforcing side members, a shock-absorbing bumper, and exposed flange and bolt heads. The lack of safety inherent in the car has already claimed two lives as a direct result, with Dentex looking for an escape from impending litigation. The negligence of the company is brought into the forefront, since a feasibility study and several suggestions regarding modifications to improve safety has been brought to its attention and promptly ignored. Psychological egoism is applied in a corporate sense, since the company is more concerned about cost-cutting and the impact on profitability (pursuit of self-interest) rather than the greater good – the numerous users of the purchased cars. This would be unethical on the grounds of utilitarianism, since the consequences have negative implications - the number of deaths outweighs any financial gain the company might procure. Saving lives also applies on a deontological basis; the company has a duty to not harm customers and since they are conducting business with them, have a corporate social responsibility to them as a stakeholder. Customers are held to a higher regard than stockholders in a model with a utilitarian standpoint. More importantly, the human right to life is a universal right according to the UN, and to subscribe to any other actions toward this end is unethical and the company is morally obligated to comply. By cutting costs to the point of allowing casualties to occur, the moral minimum approach is even subverted. It is a moral standard requirement “to do no harm,” which they achieve, but “to prevent harm” is willing to be sacrificed for following through on their financial goals. Arguably moral responsibility extends beyond simply doing no harm, but rather beyond enabling and providing an opportunity for harm (the deficiencies on design comes to mind). Dentex can remedy the problem by disregarding the cost-benefit analysis in favour of placing the overall safety of their end-user on the higher end of the priority scale. Cut cost based on process improvements and analytical procedures, but not at the expense of ensuring a safe car in production.

Secondly, there are ethical issues with the marketing strategy Dentex employs, which can be perceived as misleading and merely a means to mask the previously mentioned safety issues the company is experiencing and a way to counteract the negative publicity surrounding it. They are targeting teenage students who they have stereotyped as “risk takers” and least likely to be deterred by the safety issues. Meanwhile, marketing aimed at the older demographic attempts to hide the dangers in its car by taking advantage of psychological factors that state that older people rely more on authority figures on a subject matter – in this case, a mechanic who can be seen as knowledgeable on cars. These marketing strategies can be classified in terms of varying deceptive or misleading practices. Dentex purposely concealed relevant facts about the car, thus creating an undue influence on a preferred decision – for someone to purchase a car based on a preconceived condition. This in turn compromises the customers’ freedom and autonomy in terms of making an informed, consensual decision – any decision will be ill-advised and provides no actual benefits in the long-term to the end-user. By targeting the older demographic’s willingness to follow authority figures and the assumed social proof of the presence of mechanics in the advertisments, they have taken advantage of a psychological trait to generate sales. Meanwhile, the notion that students are biggest risk-takers represents a concerted effort in identifying a target...
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