The case is about the engineer dilemma. The Ellen is very concerned about her ethical obligations. As the role of engineers on our society is of trust and responsibility if they make any mistake or show carelessness in their job, they will cause a huge trouble to society specially in a form of human life’s loss. So here in this case an engineer must take decision regarding her ethical and professional obligations.
Ellen’s decision under the first major ethical theory (utilitarianism):
The first and mostly used major ethical theory is utilitarianism. This theory is first ethical theory in normative ethical system. It is also known as greatest good for majority of population. The evaluation of this theory depends on cost and benefit of society. The major concern of this theory is greater good of maximum number of people. There are three specific steps of process of this theory:
- Firstly, the futilitarians see the available alternatives policies and actions of solving a particular situation.
- Secondly, they focus on each alternative by estimating their indirect and direct costs and benefits that what will the application of that alternative produce for all persons affected.
- Thirdly, they would subtract the costs from the benefits of each alternative in order to obtain the net utility of each available alternative action.
- Finally, the utilitarian will decide which available policy or action is more reasonable that can produce greater sum. That will be considered as most appropriate ethical option.
The decision makers are pressurized to guess the outcome of their choice. Under this theory harming minority in order to save majority is not unethical. And that is not good to build mutual beneficial relationship. The outcome of a decision is not always easy to predict even not sounds possible.
The influence of utilitarianism on today’s society; if we apply the ethical aspect of utilitarianism theory in the case of Ellen then we must see the standards mentioned above. As above mentioned about the standards of utilitarianism that it mainly applies when there is greater good and least loss. This theory considers all losses and benefits in monetary terms even the loss of life as well. So, if Ellen takes decision under the perspective of utilitarianism, she will go with the option of building bridge without informing the senior management and any delay. Because she would consider the financial loss than the loss of human life. The concept of greater good will compel her to take decision of building bridge. If she does not do that then the alternative will be costly than this which is bearing the huge financial harm that is not acceptable under this. So, the decision under this theory will not bring out an ethical decision regarding this case.
Ellen’s decision under the second major ethical theory- Deontology or CI method:
In early 18nth century the people were trying to rely on the natural law. That point out that we must use a reason or sense of logic to differentiate the wrong and right.
During this period the philosopher named as Immanuel Kant introduced a theory of ethics that States the person’s Sense of duty to act in a particular situation in the way we see is right. Kant named this theory as the Deontology. The idea on which this theory put more focus is treat people with dignity and respect. Kant argues that we should not use human as a mean or object. We should have the sense of dignity that prevent us from wrongdoing towards others as well as with ourselves. This further suggests that we do our duty because it is right thing to do and there is no other reason. This theory solely based on a guideline for an individual’s personal sense of morality or the wrongfulness and rightness of actions to us. In this theory the consequences do not matter, and intentions are irrelevant rather than this is concerned with the rules and duties.
If Ellen see her decision through the perspective of this decision, then she would rather choose to stop the construction of bridge and inform the higher authorities about the harm that the construction of bridge will bring to human lives. According this, the person is bound to speak truth no matter it cost you his or her job. So, she would never compromise on the damage of human life and she would which is her ethical and moral duty. By following this theory, she would refuse to use human as commodity and shield to protect from financial harm. According to my analysis the decision under the light of this theory can be proved as an ethical one. She would consider a moral act and it does not depend on the consequences. This is strong model for public relations ethics. Obeying rules and paying duties properly will bring better consequences.
Ellen’s decision under the third major ethical theory- Virtue Ethics:
Virtue ethics is another major theory of ethics that focuses on good virtues in order to maintain the public relations and make decisions under the light of those virtues.
The virtues ethics is all about what make you good person. It deals with the wrongfulness and rightness of one’s actions. And deeply study the behaviors and characteristics the good person would likely to achieve. In this regard the major concern of virtue ethics is the entire life of a person rather than its only particular part. This is very interesting theory since being human we like to assess the actions of others and their character rather than only focusing on their good and bad actions. This theory suggests that for building good society help the its members to be good instead of used laws and punishments to prevent the bad actions. There are some principals that the virtue ethics teaches us:
- The action is only right if that action is taken by virtuous person in the similar circumstances.
- The virtue ethics is a moral characteristic for a person to live well.
- Lone can live virtually if he they live and possess the virtues.
If Ellen goes with this theory to take an ethical decision, then she would not consider the laws and punishment but rather she would do that is something that a good person should do. But it is very subjective term it depends upon what idea of good person an individual pose. If she consider that a good person obey her seniors and save the company from the financial damages no matter what then for her it is ethical because it is exactly what that she considers right thing to do but if we see it the basis of ethical standard it is not ethical decision.
I would rather go with deontology’s perspective that do not use human as on objective and treat him with dignity because there is not any monetary term can compensate the loss of human life.
If we see the entire case in the perspective of business, then the one thing is very prominent that business is profit oriented they only concern with their profit and income rather than ethical rules and regulations. Albeit, the ethics is not only important for individuals’ life, but it equally plays greater role of profitability and sustainability in business. Companies who apply ethics in their operations tend to have positive perception in minds of people than unethical one.
If we take this scenario in terms of profit, then the decision of building bridge is completely fine because it will provide them profit and their business will be enhanced.
Growth and income
Rather than saying that building growth will increase the opportunities of growth to the XYZ company I would say that this will even constrain their growth further because it is never been a good idea of putting yourself in risk. The weak construction of bridge will impact their future projects and restrict their growth due to their careless and ineffective work that would automatically lower their income.
Competitive and variability:
The business competitiveness will also be impacted negatively because of their low quality and nonstandard work. Companies will avoid taking their goods and services due to their poor service. And if in case their construction causes a huge loss of citizens’ life that is very possible that the government put ban on XYZ company. And automatically company will lose its professional relations with its clients it will no longer survive as a viable company.