The Ford Pinto-Ethics

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Kyra M. Tracy

Business Ethics- Paper 7

Article: Hiring Character, From Intergity Works, Strategies for becoming Respected, Trusted and Admired Leader. By Dana Telford and Adrian Gostick


Clearly, Ford’s CEO Iacocca was an Egoist. People were definitely considered morally irrelevant in his decision-making framework. The Pinto safety issue was evaluated utilizing a Utilitarian framework motivated by the CEO’s Egoism. From a risk management standpoint, this may be the most dangerous combination in a decision-making.

The Procedural steps of the decision making framework was Utilitarian in nature, Ford chose the action that would cause the least amount of harm for the majority involved, therefore allowing the minority to be harmed by death. Apparently, Ford did not care about the type or severity of harm they caused. They chose a lower number of estimated deaths as opposed to a higher number of financial harm. The decision to view death as a viable option was fueled by Egoism. Fords CEO, Iacocca, was an integral part of the Egoism utilized in the decision making in that he viewed Ford’s customers/consumers as morally irrelevant. This was made clear when Iacocca intentionally underestimated/ignored and concealed the fact that the Pinto engine would ignite upon small rear impact. Clearly, Ford could have disclosed the dangers of the Pinto to consumers, thereby allowing consumer consent, but they did not because it would slow or stop him from achieving Ford’s goals. Further, Iacocca did not take people’s values into consideration when rendering a decision on the Pinto safety hazard; instead he projected his own values in the decision-making framework. A true Utilitarian method to determine a course of action is to take an actual vote in which each person affected in the situation votes on the basis of their own values. When others values are not considered, and an Egoist is in charge, there is a high probability that immoral...
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