The notion of duty or deontological ethics is many ways the opposite of the utilitarian ethics you learned about in Module 3. It is often the case that completely different decisions will be made if you use a deontological approach rather than a utilitarian approach. For this assignment, you will be applying the concepts of utilitarian and duty ethics from Brusseau (2012) and “Duty-based ethics” (2014) to some real-world ethical dilemmas faced by corporations.
Apple has gotten a lot of criticism for having iPhones and other products manufactured in China. However, iPhones would cost dramatically more (as much as $2,000 for a low-end model) if they were produced in the United States. See the following articles:
Mielach, D. (2012, February 12). Is it ethical to own an iPhone? Business News Daily. Retrieved from: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/1979-owning-iphone-ethical.html
Smith, S. (2014, May 20). How much would an all-American iPhone cost? Marketplace. Retrieved from: https://www.marketplace.org/2014/05/20/business/ive-always-wondered/how-much-would-all-american-iphone-cost
Another ethical dilemma many multinational corporations face is that they often have to deal with foreign government officials in order to obtain contracts. Even if managers are personally offended at the idea of paying bribes, keep in mind that American companies have to compete with companies from other countries that are more than happy to pay a bribe. A recent case involved Hewlett-Packard (HP) when their affiliate in Russia was busted for a paying a bribe to a government official in order to obtain a contract. For purposes of this assignment, forget that this is illegal. Instead, think about whether this is ethical. Remember that HP has had financial struggles and has had to lay off many American workers, and obtaining foreign contracts can save jobs back in the United States. See the following articles for more information:
Garside, J. (2014). Hewlett-Packard to pay $108m to settle scandal over bribery of public officials. The Guardian. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/apr/09/hewlett-packard-108m-corruption-government-it-us-bribery
Heater, B. (2016, Oct 13). HP plans 3,000 to 4,000 job cuts over the next three years. TechCrunch. Retrieved from: https://techcrunch.com/2016/10/13/hp-layoffs/
First, make sure you are clear on the distinction between duty/deontological ethics and utilitarian/consequentialist ethics from the readings in Modules 3 and 4. Then think carefully about the ethical dilemmas faced by Apple and HP using the articles above as well as your own research. Then write a 4- to 5-page paper addressing the following issues:
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