Reviewing Theory, Rationalizations, Dilemmas and Resolutions
You are an executive with a large pharmaceutical company, W. B. Milestone, Inc., and you have to decide whether to market a product that might have undesirable side effects for a small percentage of users. What is the ethical dilemma and related ethical issue(s) facing the executive? How should you decide whether to sell the product? Specifically, what are the steps you would employ in reaching your decision? How does the theory of ethics that is applied affect your answer? In discussing the theoretical aspect, you must identify and discuss at least 2 relevant theories from this week.
As a part of your deliberative process, you decided to place a call to a trusted colleague in Malaysia, who is the senior vice-president in charge of the Malaysian operations for the Company. During the course of your conversation you were shocked to learn that the Company has hired several hundred workers at wages considerably below their U.S. counterparts, but consistent with the prevailing wages in Malaysia. Not only is the Company benefiting from the lower wages, it is also able to reduce its costs further because of the deplorable factories used for its operations (no air conditioning and poor ventilation), it can dispose of waste without any government oversight, and government inspectors are routinely given gratuities for favorable inspection reports or to otherwise grease the skids for the Company.
These revelations were extremely concerning for you, notwithstanding the fact that the Company’s operations were in all key respects in accordance with the laws of Malaysia. When you voiced these concerns to your colleague, he responded that when operating in another country, “one learns to keep their mouth shut, and when in Rome do as the Romans do.” He further stated that if you really wanted to impress the brass at the Company, you should recommend that the base of operations for the new product be in Malaysia to take advantage of the more relaxed regulatory environment. You ended the conversation by saying you would take all of this under advisement.
Whether or not you decide to recommend marketing the product, and to take your colleague’s advice to base it in Malaysia, do you think this would be a case of ethical relativism? Why or why not?
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