Essays on Utilitarianism and the case of James Hardie Company Case Study

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The paper "Utilitarianism and the case of James Hardie Company" is a perfect example of a business case study.   There is a lot of duties that a corporation is involved in, they range of production, distribution, marketing and so forth. In order for all these functions to work and run smoothly, the firm has to utilize the help of employees at every stage of the process. In some industries there exist toxic fumes that are produced and can harm the bodies and the health of the employees. It is the duty of the management to ensure that the employees are safeguarded against such incidents.

This is what is termed as an ethical duty towards the employees. This paper is going to explore the unethical case that has been reported regarding the James Hardie executives. Utilitarianism and the case of James Hardie Company Companies in this modern age go too far extents to ensure that the image they show the world id positive and according to the values of humanity. This is the reason why they engage in corporate social responsibility and positive advertising in order to shape public perception.

However, in this instance, the ethical duty of James Hardie Company was violated. Cases of lung cancer were reported from workers who had previously in the company. This prompted uprising from the media and the public as well, this was unethical and irresponsible of the executives. According to utilitarianism, a person can commit a necessary evil if the justification they give show that the evil was for the greater good (Pyle, 1998, p. 293). This is a tactic used by very many people in today’ s world, in relation to the case study the executives of the company were found guilty of falsifying documents regarding the compensation of the people who were suffering deform asbestos disease.

This means that they lied to the public, to the people and to the law. The foundation that was supposed to pay the suffering people were almost facing bankruptcy and the value they were being paid was undervalued by 1.5 billion US dollars. Analyzing the situation critically one may be convinced to attest that the company executives had no other option than to lie to the people.

Utilitarianism has it that a person does not always have to tell the truth if it is going to cause harm to the people affected parties. In this instance, the truth would have meant that the people would find out that their compensation was already running low and the chance of accessing it was minimal. This truth would have sent a wave of despair and pain to already suffering people. The chances of such a person falling into the mental depression are high which means their recovery form the diseases would have been lowered.

The result would be that critical cases would be more of those people (Scarre, (2002, pg. 129). The executive considered this factor and concluded that the truth was not the best form of action in that given scenario. I tend to agree with them on this, making people suffer psychologically is not something anyone would wish to do, so it is better to avoid it. However, one might argue that in utilitarianism, one  must hold to the general principle that morality must depend on balancing the beneficial and harmful consequences of one's conduct.

This according to me is a factor that the executives considered, but unfortunately got caught and the truth came out thereby leading to more damage (Johnson, 2007, p. 209).


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Read One Philosopher’s Approach to Business Ethics in your textbook, Shaw et al (2013), pp.105-112. Use the content to develop your essay.

Scarre, G. (2002). Utilitarianism. London: Routledge.

Smart, J. J. C., & Williams, B. (1973). Utilitarianism: For and against. Cambridge [Eng.: University Press.

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