H. B. Fuller’s moral obligations in this case are to do everything they can to prevent illegal distribution and use of their products. Being the leading manufacturer of industrial glues worldwide, it is impossible for the company to get rid of products that kids are misusing. Yes, the company can take steps to stop it, which they are by not selling it to retailors and small business owners in Honduras and Guatemala where the biggest abuse problem is. However, this company cannot be morally responsible for every single person who chooses to use their product in the wrong way.
Like the mission statement says, they will conduct business ethically… be a responsible corporate citizen. These are their moral obligations and they are met by their actions to save the environment, and giving five percent of profits to charity. H. B. Fuller is in no way marketing their products directly to children, and why should they have to change ingredients and stop selling their products to certain areas just because some people have issues. We know that Central America makes up for 27% of H. B.
Fuller sales, which is a big portion and will hurt the business if they pull products in many countries. They are also morally obligated to their clients who actually do use their glue for the right purposes. If their best product is no longer sold, construction and manufacturing in these countries might also take a hit because they will not be able to use the products that they need to get the job done. In the perspective of utilitarianism, the actions should benefit the majority and promote happiness for the greatest number of people.
In the eyes of H. B. Fuller, they see the situation in the way that all of their happy customers make up a bigger majority of people than those who are unhappy with their products. They think that the majority of people who misuse their products only make up a very small percentage, and they can’t alter their products for a few unhappy people. I agree with this perspective because it relates to the example of being on a trolley that has lost its breaks. You can keep going straight and kill five people, or turn to the right and only kill one.
The percentage of sales that come from South America is 27% and even less than that 27% actually misuse the glue. Some of that number still actually uses it for manufacturing. Even though there are other people, such as Bruce Harris the director of Latin American Programs, that are unhappy, it is unrealistic for a top manufacturer to change/stop selling their top products to get kids to stop sniffing glue. I think that people with addictions are not necessarily going to stop being addicted because they can no longer buy one type of glue.
There are other glue products and they could just as easily travel to get more or find someone else who has some. Looking at the consequentialist theory, which focuses on the results, it says that we don’t do the right thing because we fear the consequences; we do the right thing because it is right. This point somewhat contradicts the utilitarianism perspective because the “right” thing to do depends on outlook. The activists and participants in Latin American Programs think that it is the “right” thing for H. B. Fuller to change the ingredients in their Resistol and stop selling it all together in Central America.
They want this to happen because they think that if the ingredient is gone, the addicted children will no longer be able to sniff the glue anymore, and therefore will be able to stop the misuse and help the children. They want to help the children because it is the right thing to do and not because it will benefit them in any particular way. H. B Fuller thinks that the right thing to do is to keep selling their glue to their customers because their customers need the product to do their jobs such as for holding together cars. However, I’m sure that it also relates to not wanting to lose any profits by cutting the sales of their product.
The “right” thing to do, under this approach, would be to change the ingredients to help the good of the addicted children. There are various ideas, effects and consequences that are at stake in this situation. If H. B. Fuller doesn’t change the ingredient and stop selling their glue to Central America, kids will still continue to get their hands on the products and stockholders in and out of the company will continue to be unhappy with the company. Another possible effect would be that H. B. Fuller could potentially lose some of their customers; customers that believe that this glue is the main cause of sniffing addictions.
However, on the other hand, if H. B. Fuller does change their glue and stop selling it in Central America, the glue may not work as well, and lead to problems in not holding things together properly. It may also cost the company a lot of money to try and experiment and find a good alternative. Another consequence would be unhappy customers who like to buy the glue just the way it is, because it works very well on their products that they need to build. If the company gets rid of its 27% of sales by not selling to this area, they are also putting the company at stake to post
major losses and put the company at risk for layoffs and in a bad financial position which would happen if a quarter of their sales is totally gone. I personally think that H. B Fuller’s moral rights have been violated in this case. Moral rights protect the personality and reputation of the work’s author. For this case, H. B. Fuller has put years and years of work into making their glue products the best they can be for the jobs they are meant to be used for. This company has the right to continue to make their products and sell them wherever they would like to be sold.
A group of people who misuse the products does not override the reputation of a company. The article states that Timothy Smith, the executive director of interfaith center of Responsibility, says that “companies with a reputation as good corporate citizens are more vulnerable to attack”. So basically he is saying that because H. B. Fuller has operated as such a strong and responsible company over its past 100 years in business, that they have a target on their backs for attack because they never do anything wrong. Then he goes onto saying that their problem is that they over market themselves as a “saint”.
People criticize H. B. Fuller for not living up to their moral obligations when there is evidence that says otherwise. They have taken precautions to limit selling and they are looking into different ingredients to replace Resistol. We know that this glue sniffing issue is not new and has been going on for more than 50 years. The moral rights of H. B. Fuller are being violated when people target the company saying that they are essentially responsible for kids misusing their products; when it is known that there are other glue companies in the world and that H. B.
Fuller is not knowingly giving glue to kids who will misuse it, they are trying to keep their business running the way it should be and continue to sell glue to their loyal customers who rely on the product to do their jobs. Like stated before, a Utilitarian would have recommended to H. B. Fuller to keep selling the glue because it will benefit a greater amount of people. The company that has been around for 100 years and is one of the top manufacturers of these glue products is loyal to their customers who have been relying on them for years to produce the best glue they can.
If they change products and make them unavailable to certain regions, not only is H. B. Fuller losing revenue, they will also be losing customers who are unhappy that they can no longer obtain their glue to build things like cars. Taking this product away from customers is unfair to the customers, their customers (consumers) and H. B. Fuller themselves, all because there is a small percent of children that misuse the products. Whether they obtain the glue from H. B. Fuller products, or other glue products, if addicted they will still be able to find a way to sniff glue even if Fuller products are no longer on the shelf in one area.
A Kantian would view ethics in a deontological viewpoint. This viewpoint focuses on the process condemned by god. He would consider both the hypothetical and categorical imperative. Therefore, Kant would take the hypothetical imperative and think about if you want x, then do y. For example, it is not good to drink beer every night but if you don’t care, then keep doing it. So in this case for H. B. Fuller, Kant would say that if the company doesn’t care about kids being addicted to glue, then they will continue to sell the products in Central America and not change the ingredients.
Or another example would be that if you want good grades on a test, you will study and read to be knowledgeable. So in this view, H. B. Fuller would want to change things if they cared about the addicted kids. In the categorical imperative, it tells what to do. For example, do y. So Kant would tell H. B Fuller to change their products to benefit the kids and help stop their addiction. Overall, H. B. Fullers moral obligations are being met and that is proven by their mission statement and their actions to help charity and environment.
They are in no way responsible for the people who have a sniffing addiction because there is no way for them monitor the problem and keep it from happening. Just like in the example, people think that making gun use illegal will stop people from using them and killings from happening. However, drugs are illegal and millions of people still use and obtain drugs from all over the place. Stopping their sales of glue products in Central America will not stop kids from finding them elsewhere or finding a new source to sniff. This problem does not fall onto H.
B. Fuller because they are just trying to operate as a moral company and are not in violation of any obligations. This is proven in multiple ways talked about above and specifically by their efforts to limit their sales and altered Resistol formula to replace the sweet smell. They are acting morally in the fact that they are making efforts to help with the problem, however they cannot alter their whole business in order to make a small majority of people happy because that is not their moral obligation to make everyone with an addiction stop.
Courtney from Study Moose
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