Something’s Rotten in Hondo is a case wherein a plant manager, George Mackee, needs to decide whether to get rid of the charges inflicted by the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA or to move in Mexico. He is in a dilemma because if he would choose the former, he has very little chance of eliminating the problem since Bill, George boss, refuses to finance the cleaning of the smokestack. On the other hand, if he would choose the latter, he has to lay off his current employees and hire Mexican workers as a trade-off for not being reprimanded about the EPA standards.
His boss leaves the decision up to him. The most obvious ethical concerns in this case are two-fold. The first one is that if George would choose the first option – that is to devise a strategy or a technique that would eradicate the problem with the fines imposed by EPA, he would have to follow what his contemporaries are doing – that is by scheduling the heavy emissions of smokestack during nighttime when the EPA is not in patrol. This entails that he would allow the severance of the environmental pollution (particularly air pollution) for the exchange of not paying any fines to EPA.
On the contrary, if George would choose the second option – that is to relocate in Mexico, he would have to dismiss most of his current employees in place of the Mexican workers. And such would include the laying off of his friends and extended families. Furthermore, if he would choose the second option, he would be tolerant of the air pollution caused by the plant’s incapacity to reduce air pollutants. In effect, George has also eliminated the problem of the company on fines issued by EPA. Application of Ethical Theories The case presented in this paper suggests particular ethical problems.
For this matter, the author presents two distinct ethical dilemmas for George to decide on: Should he decide to relocate the plant to Mexico or should he just follow the strategy used by his contemporaries? But before he could arrive to a decision, he must first analyze the pros and cons of his decision. If he would choose the former, he could really eliminate the problem with the imposition of fines by the EPA since Mexico assure him that it would not reprimand the plant whatever it does. The only thing is that he has to hire Mexican workers that which implies laying off of his present employees including his friends and extended families.
Conversely, if he would agree with that proposal he would also have to bear the dreadful effects of the plant’s operations on the environment, particularly on U. S. Nonetheless, if he would choose the latter, he could also get rid of the problem with the fines imposed by EPA because of failure to meet its guidelines. However, he has to take so much risk by doing the same strategy being used by his contemporaries. In addition, he also has to endure the environmental effects of such strategy just to avoid being reprimanded again by EPA and his boss. Kantian Categorical Imperative
If he would apply Kantian’s Categorical Imperative that is by doing his duty, he ought not to do the strategy utilized by his contemporaries (his first option). This is for the reason that he has a duty to protect the environment for both the present and future generations. Plus the fact that his workers have to suffer if he would fire them out of their works. Kant’s Categorical Imperative suggests two maxims in which a person could use to examine the morality of his action. The first maxim states that an action is morally right if one could make such action a universal law.
This means that if one could make his action universal or applicable to all others by making it a rule then such action is morally accepted thus it is right. The second maxim, in contrast, focuses on the idea of always treating all human persons as ends and never as means to an end. This maxim argues that every human person has dignity to be respected and has rights as a human thus everyone must act in promoting others rights and not promoting harm to them On the other hand, Kant would not also choose the second option because it also implies environmental degradation.
Though he avoids being fined by EPA as well as not even being reprimanded by EPA whatever their operation is, for Kant, he would fail to do the maxims under the Categorical Imperative. He could never make his action or decision as a universal law. Likewise, he would treat other people as mere instruments to achieve his goal by inflicting heath hazards due to smokestack emissions. Kant would suggest that George must never make a decision that would tend to harm the environment because such would also cause severe consequences to the people. As evident in the two options, both would result to the degradation of the environment.
Thus, Kant would say that George decision, whichever of the two, would be unethical and morally wrong. Kant would recommend that George must be able to find ways that would not lead to the toleration of environmental pollution. For example, George could instead convince his boss that the only way to solve the problem that would not require him to sacrifice the welfare of the environment is to invest for new technologies that would lessen the emission of smokestack. And such would not even require new scrubbers. Such action is a long-term advantage for the company as well as for the environment. Mill’s Utilitarianism
JS Mill’s Utilitarianism would even strengthen the position of not deciding on either of the two options since both would result to environmental pollution. Mill’s Utilitarianism is premised on the idea that an action is right if it promotes the greatest happiness for the greatest number. In other words, Utilitarian principle is mainly directed towards the social utility of an act. This means that if an action can benefit or inflict advantages to more people then such action is morally right. In the case of George, either of the two options would make him tolerate the harm done against the environment.
Environment is an essential mechanism that is necessary for human survival. If he would choose the first or the latter option as his decision, he could save the company but inflict great harm to more number of people. Mill would say that George must devise a way in which he could settle the crisis in the company without sacrificing the environment because lots people, including him and his family, depend on the environment’s gifts. Thus, Mill would also recommend the same thing as Kant. Convince his boss by arguing that it is risky and detrimental to the environment if he would follow what his contemporaries are doing.
If EPA would find out such underground activities, the company could even be sanctioned more than the imposition of fines. The same thing goes with the second option. If the government of U. S. would find out that the company’s operation cause harsh effects to their environment then there is a big possibility that U. S. would inflict undesirable measures against the company. Rights-based Theory on Decision-making The rights-based theories suggest that it is not always the case that the morality of an action is based on the great benefit that it can produce.
At the same time, the rights-based theories do not solely advocate the respect of rights of human persons. These theories suggest that while everyone has a duty to recognize and value the rights of other people (negative rights); it is also everyone’s duty to promote for other’s goals (positive rights). In such manner, the contending ethical theories of Kantianism and Utilitarianism are reconciled in a way that both their concerns are being considered. In the first place, rights are inviolable. They are inalienable or cannot be taken away from human persons no matter what the situation is.
Thus, there is no sufficient and rational reason to go against their rights without their consent. The rights-based theories are premised on the idea that every person has the right to choose on how he would like to live his own life. It is not only a person’s duty to respect these rights but also to promote the accomplishment of the goals of other people. By doing so, the rights defined earlier are more strengthen and more realized. In the case of Hondo, George, as a manager, has a duty towards the company. Still, he has duty towards other people.
Choosing either of the two decisions would disrespect the rights and disregard the goals of these people. For the rights-based theories, such decision is unethical. The more appropriate way to solve the problem is for George to lend money from a bank so as to install new technology that would lessen the emission of smokestack. He does not really need to hire new scrubbers. By having new technology, for instance machines that clean smokestack, he would not have to result to environmental pollution. It is costly in the beginning but its benefits would be greatly appreciated in the long run. Justice-based Theories in Decision-making
In justice-based theories, the overriding principle is focus on the idea of fair. According to John Rawls, the morality of an action can only be measured by appealing to the principle of justice. In his A Theory of Justice, he suggests two principles: liberty and wealth. The former is expressed to explain justice by saying that all must have an equal extent in which they can enjoy and practice their liberties. A least extensive curtailment of liberty is advocated on the condition that such would be shared by all. This entails that an act is right is the product of such act is amenable to all.
Hence, justice, in such context, is morally right. In resolving the ethical dilemma faced by George, Justice-based theories would advice him to consider if his decision would be fair to all. Obviously, both options are not beneficial to all. And at the same time, these two options are not the only available options which George has. If he would employ either one of the two options, he would not be just; knowing that if he would be in the place of other people who depend on and survive through environment he would not also endure such nor be willing to agree with such idea.
It could be the case that the he and the company are amenable to either of the two options. Nevertheless, others are not really disposed to accept such. Hence, George must not employ such decisions. For George, he could, instead, make control-strategies that would monitor and regulate the emission of smokestack before, during, and even after the plant’s operation in order to examine well the problems concerning the smokestack. Furthermore he could meet with his workers and discuss the problem. He may solicit suggestions on how they could lessen the pollution secreted by their plant onto the environment.
After that, he may ask for support from banks by lending or getting loan. Kohlberg’s Moral Development Lawrence Kohlberg was from the line of Piaget who used moral framework to discuss the psychological development of a human person. His thesis on Moral Development suggests that there are six stages wherein a person passes through before he reaches the ultimate state of being a moral person. This theory will be used to show how Kohlberg’s method would help George in resolving his faced ethical dilemma.
The first stage is focus on the idea that one person is initially instructed to obey laws such that he could avoid punishment. This is the primary conception on morality that a person has during his early years. With regards to the case presented in this paper, the appeal to laws and rules concerning environmental protection is the most obvious consideration for George’s decision. He would not decide either of the two options since both would make him violate the law regarding the protection of the environment.
On the other hand, if he fails to solve the problem immediately, he might receive punishment from his boss (i. e. termination or demotion). The point is that which of the two punishments could George endure more? More likely than not, he would choose not be imprisoned than being demoted or terminated by his boss. The second stage suggests that every person has his own way of thinking which makes every topic or matter subjective to each person. The thing that works for someone or the thing that is considered right by someone may not be the same for another person.
Thus, morality in this stage is relative. George could say that the least that he could that would benefit him and put him out of the dilemma that he is in is by either doing the first option or the second option. Both would mean resolution of his problem yet would cause damage to the environment. If he is a nature-lover he would not go for such decision. But if he is a money-lover, he would employ one of the two alternatives.
The third stage is concern on the character in which a person thinks of ways on how he can do good things to the persons close to him (e. . family and friends). This means that his initial moral outlook is directed towards the things that he can do for the sake of his loved ones. In the case, if George is at this stage, he would be more inclined to decide and act so as to promote his family and friends’ welfare. Thus, if he would decide on his problem, he would not choose to relocate since his wife is not in favor of this idea and such will inflict great personal unhappiness to his friends who work in the plant.