Pepsi in Burma

Topics: Human rights, Morality, Utilitarianism Pages: 5 (1392 words) Published: July 4, 2013
Pepsi in Burma
Question 1
Identify the moral issues that are raised by Pepsi’s presence in Burma.
A moral issue can be defined as any issue concerning how one ought to behave, how others ought to behave, or whether a situation is proper or improper. Morality is judged based on what is right or wrong.

Pepsi’s presence in Burma raised several ethical and moral concerns due government operations under the military regime. In the 1990’s Burma was undergoing social, economic and political crisis under the military rule of the State Law & Order Restoration Council (SLORC). During this time the state economy became open and provided opportunities that Pepsi, among other companies, could exploit. These opportunities involved low labour cost, possible links to other markets and high literacy rates.

It was believed that if Pepsi had continued to operate fully or partially in Burma they would be in support of the unfair and inhumane military treatment by the military regime to the citizens of that country. Burmese nationals worked under harsh conditions, their human rights were violated, they did not have freedom of speech, faced unjust imprisonment and some were even put to death if they chose not to conform to the military. These ethical issues, raised a lot of concerns to the U.S. Department of State and others as those treatments were immoral and unethical and if Pepsi continued to operate in Burma they would be seen as in support of such behaviours. Pepsi’s ethical obligations should have involved fairness, safety and honesty to the main stakeholders (consumers, employees, shareholders and the community) of their business and Burma did not provide the right bases to satisfy these obligations. Question 2

Discuss the issues from a utilitarian and moral rights perspective.
The utilitarian view is a part of the teleological view that states that states that an act can be considered to be moral if it produces a desired result or benefit, whether personally or for a group. According to Ferrell & Fraedrich (1994), utilitarianism is concerned with consequences; however the utilitarian seeks the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Utilitarian’s belief is that they should make decisions that result in the greatest total utility or greatest total benefits for all those affected by the decision.

According to Joseph Weiss, rights are based on several sources of authority. Moral or human rights are universal and are based on norms in every society. For example one has a moral right to not be enslaved and the right to work. Moral rights also provide the freedom to pursue one’s interest, as long as they do not violate the rights of others. Moral rights also allow individuals to justify their actions and seek protection from others in doing so.

From a utilitarian point of view, if Pepsi had continued their operations in Burma, only a few persons would be benefiting from their operations. They would not have made their decision based on the greater good of the greater number of people. They would have experienced more disadvantages than benefits. The main disadvantage, among others such as boycotting of their products in other countries, was that the Burmese dollar had no value outside of the country making it impossible for American companies to transfer their profits outside of Burma resulting in a high dependency on countertrade within the country. However, if Pepsi had ended all business ties with the Burmese Government, they would be doing the greater good for the greater number of people and at the same time expressing to the world their stance in the situation. Their benefits would surpass their disadvantages providing the company with a specific desired result justifying a means to the end of the situation.

From a moral rights perspective, Burmese nationals were suffering. They were basically seen as slaves, they were not justly paid, were punished severely if they spoke out against certain things and they...
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