Ethical Values and Behaviour Essay Example

Ethical Values and Behaviour Essay Introduction

Ethics refers to the study of moral principles or values that determine whether actions are right or wrong and outcomes are good or bad.i Erin Brockovich, single mother of three children, barely scraping by at something like subsistence level. Erin does have a certain class consciousness and politics, however rudimentary and filtered through gender politics her ethical beliefs remain unscathed and altruistic. Erin is also smart and intelligent when it comes to deciphering the many nuances of the case that falls into her lap.

From the beginning, when she first senses something is not right, she knows enough to question certain residents of Hinkley about their involvement with Pacific Gas and Electric, and the reasons for their illnesses and diseases. We rely on our ethical values to determine “the right thing to do.” ii Pulling together evidence from badly concealed records, gathering signatures from ailing and distrustful victims Erin goes door to door, to slowly build up a case strong enough to fight the unethical billion dollar utility company, Pacific Gas & Electric.

Pacific Gas & Electric nearby plant was leaching chromium 6, a rust inhibitor, into Hinkley’s water supply, and the suit blamed the chemical for dozens of symptoms, ranging from nosebleeds to breast cancer, Hodgkin’s disease, miscarriages and spinal deterioration. iii . In order for the managers and corporate officers to protect their corporation, they created spread PG&E’s disinformation and attempted many home purchases. PG;E was aware of the costly problem involving Hinkley, but their solution was to avoid warning the people of the danger in which they live.

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What makes this decision even more unethical is that the corporation is a 28 billion dollar operation and can easily afford to protect the lives of the people who are their neighbors. A recent survey also reported that the employees integrity is as important to most employees as there income. iv But rather than do the right thing, the company lawyers choose to sacrifice the lives of their neighbors to protect the assets of their corporation. PG;E ideologies where geared toward profit margins and income rather than the integrity that was held by there company name. In this film the ethical choices of PG;E were reflected upon the children who suffer most because of there choices. The moral principles of PG;E caused them to settle the case in 1996 for $333 million.v

Ethical Values and Behaviour Essay Body Paragraphs

Three Ethical Principles Erin Brockovich’s consequential principles focused on her actions, to seek the greatest good for the greatest number of people. It is there, while working, that Erin stumbles upon some medical records placed in real estate files. Confused, she begins to question the connection. Erin saw that PG&E was in violation of the ethical and moral laws when it had polluted the town of Hinkley, and began to deny the factual evidence convicting them. When considering the greatest good for the greatest number of people as well as maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain. Both PG&E and the people fighting them can contend with one another to decide who is correct according to Utilitarian examination. Utilitarianism consists of two different subcategories, the Act and Rule of The Rule conveys what would bring the greatest amount of happiness; the Act institutes the consequences of a single act. Looking at Act Utilitarianism PG&E causes pain to a minority of the people it provides a service for, but the greater number of people benefit from PG&E’s services (power generated from there natural gas plant). A large portion of California benefits directly from the power provided by the PG;E plant. Disclosure of there high levels of pollution to the population would have resulted in the closure of the plant. It could be argued that the millions of people enjoying the enormous benefits brought about by power provided by PG;E would outweigh the suffering of a few in Hinkley. vii Although the suffering of the 600 or more people in Hinkley is not an ideology that Utilitarianism supports. Following pollutions control laws would be agreed upon by most people and PG;E as the proper action to follow in order to bring the most happiness to healthy people. In doing so, Rule Utilitarianisms main idea would be followed. If all companies maintained the same mentality that PG;E followed, by letting a few people suffer while others benefited, the numbers of people who suffered would increase drastically. This would be contrary to the fundamental idea behind Rule Utilitarianism. The act of covering up pollution in Hinkley may have conveyed more happiness than anguish to the general population, if every company followed PG;E a greater number of people would suffer. According to Act Utilitarianism PG;E may have acted appropriately. Covering up the pollution in the town of Hinkley benefited many more in California than it harmed. However, PG;E was not right in accordance to the principals of Rule Utilitarianism. viii In order to help the global society, harming some people in order to benefit the greater number of people would not be an acceptable rule. The amount of people that would not benefit from the actions of every business following this practice would greatly outweigh the number that would benefit. The rule that PG;E pursued the greater good could never be attained. Individual rights are ethical values that allow everyone to believe they have the entitlement that lets them act in a certain way. ix We are given no reason why we should like or respect Erin Brockovich. She is supposed to be “spunky” but this is shown mostly through her spouting of obscenities and her reflexive hostility toward anyone who refuses to give her what she wants. The film’s outlook is conveyed most clearly when her employer suggests that she wear something other than miniskirts and breast-baring bustier to the office. Ed Masry chastises her that her outfits make “the girls” in the office “uncomfortable”. She declares her right to wear whatever she feels like and her boss, gives her a great deal of leeway to do so. PG&E violated the individual rights of people of Hinkley by negating there physical security. The individual officers and board members of PG&E may be good, sensitive and moral people as individuals, their actions as groups, on behalf of the corporation, are often devoid of their individual values and ethics. By making decisions based on what is best for the corporation, such decisions can reach an atrocious level of self-protection for the corporation disregarding the individuals it affects. Everyone has equal access to the more favored positions in society, and the inequalities are ultimately in the best interest of the least well off in society. x Brockovich is an extremely intelligent yet jaded and crude woman who is trying to provide for her three young children. Having no education or experience, Brockovich desperately creates a position for herself in the employ of a lawyer named Ed Masry. Masry complies with the first part of Distributive justice in the sense that everyone should have equal access to higher-paying jobs and other valued positions in life. xi Secondly after the life altering work Erin experienced she was greatly rewarded with a $2 million bonus. Unfortunately, to do so she had to convince thousands of people that they’ve been poisoned for decades and will continue to suffer for the rest of their lives. xii Society can disagree on what one must do to be considered eligible in order to greatly benefit for being the least well off. Erin can connect with the people of Hinkley on a relational base, because she is one of them. Her ability to connect with them on their level makes them comfortable, ultimately earning their trust. Going door to door, she signs up over 600 plaintiffs, and Erin and Ed, with the help of a major law firm, go on to receive the largest settlement ever paid in a direct-action lawsuit in U.S. history, $333 million. By triumphing over insurmountable odds, she is able to prove herself, reinvent her life and provide a future for the sick people of Hinkley. Erin worked in an emotionally risky, physically exhausting job and deserved to be paid more for the benefits that were rewarded to those who were less well off. Moral Intensity, Ethical Sensitivity, and Situational Influences There are three central concepts in ethical behaviour which are the moral intensity of the issue, the individual’s ethical sensitivity, and situational factors. Moral intensity is the degree to which an issue demands the application of ethical principles. xiii For instance with no money, no job and no prospects on the horizon, Erin Brockovich is a woman in a tight spot. Following a car accident in which Erin is not at fault, she finds herself even worse off when her attorney fails to land her any kind of settlement. Several factors influence the moral intensity of an issue, such as the extent to which the issue clearly produces good or bad consequences, others in the society think it is good or evil, the issue quickly affects people, the decision maker feels closer to the issue, and the person is able to influence the issue. xiv Ed Masry consequentially felt obligated to provide Erin with some compensation for the case he promised to win for her. His moral intensity granted Erin with a position in his law firm. Contrary to Ed Masry, PG&E is like night and day when it comes to moral intensity. The higher the moral intensity, the more ethical principles should provide guidance to resolve the issue. xv PG&E regarded these high morally intense decisions as nothing more than a nuisance. The 28 billion dollar operation could have easily afforded to protect the lives of the people who were their neighbors but would rather protect the assets of their corporation. The greed of the corporation resulted in them making society think of there actions as evil, which resulted in them being a detriment to society. PG&E is a corporation that does not recognize the ethical importance of its decisions due to a low ethical sensitivity to the people it directly affects. Ethical sensitivity is a personal characteristic that enables people to recognizes the presence and determine the relative importance of an ethical issue. xvi Erin Brockovich was able to recognize that the issue of PG&E vs. Hinkley as an issue that required much ethical consideration. Her high level of empathy towards the sick people of Hinkley gave her the edge she needed in order to gain there trust and evidently win against PG&E. Erin’s goal was to bring to attention to the situational factors that influence wrongdoing, in result of her actions PG;E was able take responsibility for its actions and change in the for the future. Though this situation ends in demanded justice through the legal system, the underlying message is disconcerting. If, as we discovered, corporations can render the moral and ethical souls of their officers and boards impotent, then the threat to human lives as such corporations proliferate is enormous.

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Ethical Values and Behaviour Essay Example
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