The Ford Pinto Case

Topics: Ford Pinto, Ford Motor Company, Ethics Pages: 2 (611 words) Published: November 4, 2012
Right or Not Right?
Back Ground
In 1970’s, Ford had been criticized by the public due to a defective fuel system design. Although Ford had access to a new design which would decrease the possibility of the Ford Pinto from exploring, the company chose not to redesign the system, which would have cost $11 per car, even though the analysis showed that the new system would result in 180 less deaths (1999, The Valuation of Life As It Applies To the Negligence-Efficiency Argument). The company defended itself by using the accepted risk/benefit analysis to indicate that costs of making the change were higher than the fatality costs. This analysis was based on Judge Learned Hand’s BPL formula, where if the expected harm exceeded the redesign costs, then Ford must make the change, whereas if the redesign costs were higher than fatality costs, then it didn’t have to. Ford legally chose not to make the fuel system changes which would have reduced the fatality rate. However, it was legal doesn’t mean that it was ethical to the society. It is hard to accept how companies can put price tag on a human life. To me, it is unethical to determine that people should die or be injured because it would cost too much money to prevent it. Some things just can’t be measured in price, and that includes human life. Christopher Leggett stated in his case analysis: “Ford adopted a policy of allowing a certain number of people to die or be seriously injured even though they would have avoided it. From a human rights perspective, Ford disregarded the injured people’s rights and therefore, in making the decision not to make adjustments to the fuel system, acted unethically.” However, there are arguments supports the risk/benefit analysis. People believe that efficiency does not equal immoral and all things must have common measure. In Ford Pinto Case, proponents stated: “Ford is not sacrificing all safety features of the Pinto, it is a question of to what degree Ford feels safety features are...
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