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To complete this essay the following areas need to be looked at: - 1) What is utilitarianism 2) The advantages of utilitarianism 3) The disadvantages of utilitarianism 4) How utilitariani

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Introduction To complete this essay the following areas need to be looked at: - 1) What is utilitarianism 2) The advantages of utilitarianism 3) The disadvantages of utilitarianism 4) How utilitarianism relates to business Utilitarianism is concerned with providing the greatest good to the greatest number. In this context Utilitarianism states that good is measured in terms of happiness. Utilitarians are concerned with looking at the consequences of actions rather than the actual act itself. It states that you should not worry about the act at all so long as the end result is happiness for the most amount of people then that action is good. You must maximise the benefit and minimise the costs. In terms of business the "Socially" responsible course for a business to take is the one that will produce the greatest net benefits socially or impose the lowest net costs. Jeremy Bentham (1748 - 1832) one of the most famous Utilitarianists and considered by many to be the founder of Utilitarianism believed you could determine which action was "good" by comparing the beneficial and harmful consequences of each. The right course of action from an ethical point of view would be to choose the policy that would produce the greatest amount of Utility -that is the greatest amount of good in terms of happiness. ...read more.


As the design was not changed it meant that Ford managers were in effect forcing the one hundred and eighty estimated people who would die as a result of its design to absorb all the costs. It can be seen to be more just to have the costs of the re-design distributed between all the buyers in a eleven dollar mark-up in price than burdened on the one hundred and eighty people likely to be killed. Using utilitarian theory then the managers of Ford were right in their decision as the majority benefited from the car being bought for less that is it brought the greatest happiness to the most people. Ford calculated that they would save almost eighty eight million if they didn't modify the car. The problem that Ford didn't take into account when working out the costs and benefits was the negative publicity they would get because of the fault, which irreparably damaged the company. (Velasquez 2001) The Pinto carried an extra risk to life as a result of the fuel tank remaining where it was. However the buyers of the Pinto were not aware of this extra risk, as they were never told. Did Ford violate the basic right of customers to freely choose for themselves whether or not to accept a riskier car in return for a lower price? ...read more.


However it is in the businesses interest to be viewed as socially responsible and thus causing as little damage to the environment or community as a whole. Businesses are charged a pollution tax for the amount of chemicals they put into the environment. From a utilitarian point of view the businesses cost of reducing emissions is far higher than that of the tax. This is why businesses don't reduce emissions; however as is one of the problems of measuring utility, businesses don't take into account the damage done to the atmosphere. The tax imposed is not enough to rectify the damage to the environment; this creates a dilemma, as the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people in the future would be for the business not to damage the environment. But for the shareholders in financial terms the utilitarian approach would be the cost to the business. Reducing emissions would increase the cost of the good to society now, which is greater than damage to the environment, which is taxed anyway, for future generations. Businesses therefore can use utilitarian principles to help with decision-making, but must be aware of moral issues. The idea of Reebok using child labour is defensible from a utilitarian view; they give jobs to people who need them. They pay them a pittance but that is all they need to pay them, despite it being viewed as morally wrong in the UK, it gives greater happiness to the desperate workers. ...read more.

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