Ford Pinto Case: Business Ethics
What level of safety does an auto consumer expect from the manufacturer? Is it the manufacturer’s responsibility to ensure a vehicle that protects the occupant in all conditions, to what degree should the occupant be protected? In August of 1970 Ford Motors released to production the Ford Pinto. The Ford Pinto was a serious fire hazard and it was no secret to the company that this automobile would result in accidents causing burn deaths and catastrophic injuries. What is the ethical responsibility of a corporation such as Ford Motors in 1970?
In terms of law and regulation, Ford Motor Company did not illegally produce and market the Ford Pinto. The period eye view suggests that Ford complied with the laws and regulations of the early 1970’s. The facts, however, suggest that Ford made an unethical decision(s) that resulted in the deaths of many consumers and injuries of several others. Per utilitarianism, Ford was producing a sub compact car that offered competitive pricing at the cost of very low safety concern that resulted in a few deaths relative to satisfied customers. However, per learning team E, human life has no value and the cost-benefit analysis should be an irrelevant business technique when it involves human life.
In greater detail, Ford Motor Company knew that the weak rear end of the Pinto could not suffice a collision exceeding 20 miles an hour and also knew the fuel tank would rupture most of the time causing the Pinto to erupt into flames likely burning the occupant to death. Was Ford being a patriotic company offering competitive pricing or were they taking Capitalism to the greediest level and focusing on the bottom line only?
What makes the Pinto Case a clear breach in common moral ground is the fact that the company had an alternative with an 11 dollar per unit adjustment. And Mother Jones latter discovered that a $5.08 per unit adjustment would have sufficed reducing the ruptures...