Kantianism and the Ford Pinto Case

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The Ford Pinto Case: Kantianism In the business world there is one goal, to make profit. The people in charge of the businesses try and create the most revenue for their stakeholders as well as themselves. However, if a company’s one and only goal is to make money, ethical problems are due to arise. Many times, what is best to make money is not what is best for the general public. Should people’s well-being and safety be compromised in order to benefit the people who have a stake in the company? That is the question many companies are forced to ask themselves. This issue came to life in the late 1960s when problems with the Ford Company’s newest car, the Pinto, were discovered. Because of the positioning of the gas tank in the Pinto, if a car was rear ended even at a low speed, the gas tank often exploded. This caused many Ford owners to be seriously injured or killed in accidences that would have otherwise been not been so serious. After the Ford Company realized that their car’s poorly designed model was causing unnecessary harm to its owners, they still choose to do nothing about it. All they had to do was make a eleven dollar improvement to the Ford Pinto in order to save one hundred and eighty deaths a year, but their final decision was to do nothing at all. A Kantianism approach to business ethics focus on the intent of the action, not the consequence. For example in the Ford Pinto case, a Kantian would be concerned with Fords intention in making the decision not to make the eleven dollar improvement to their car. The goal of the Pinto was to make an affordable, attractive economy car. If they were to make the improvement, the price of the car would rise. This would contradict their goal for the Ford Pinto, therefore they decided not to. Since according to Kant an ethical person is someone who acts from the right intentions, their decision to do nothing

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