Part One: Imagine that you are on an ethics committee, charged with the task of putting together a “bill of rights and duties” for business and its relationship to the environment. Assume that you have absolute power to do this, and that there is no higher legal or political authority that you must recognize or put yourself under, as you formulate your policy. The only powers higher than your own, are the ethical principles that you will be using to determine what is morally right and morally wrong. You must use your powers of reasoning and argument to determine what these principles are, and what consumer rights and business duties follow from these principles.
Type your work. When you are finished, submit your work at the same location where you downloaded this exercise. Provide answers for all parts of this exercise. Be sure to keep a copy on file for yourself. The completed exercise is worth a possible 100 points. Points will be deducted for work that is turned in late.
You must have at least three ethical guidelines within your policy. You may develop more if you wish to make your policy stronger and more detailed. A “Declaration of Principles” must be at the top of your policy. This is what you will use to justify and support your guidelines. It is important that your guidelines do not come off as “dictates,” or as arbitrarily asserted rules for business to follow just because you say so. Instead, your guidelines should read as reasonable conclusions that are supported by your declaration of principles. You may develop more than three guidelines if you wish to make your ethics policy stronger. This policy will count for 40% of your overall grade for this exercise. So put some effort into it! It will take at least 400 words to begin to develop a decent policy. Here are your guideline areas:
Declaration of Principles: Within this part of your ethics policy you must begin to articulate an answer to the question, “What attitude should business take with respect to the environment if it is to be ethical”? Where and how do we draw the line that separates ethical from unethical treatment of the environment? Should our perspective be based primarily on consequences or on intentions? In other words, should we look at the environment as having inherent worth or as having mainly a utilitarian value? How should be balance a concern for present demands with future need?
Guideline One: This guideline must be focused on the relationship of business to water, and must address the question: Does business have any role to play regarding the ethical treatment toward water, in all its forms, (oceans, rivers, lakes, ground water), and all its uses; drinking, recreation, industrial use, etc.? Some possible sub-questions upon which to focus are (1) Is it ever ethical to pollute water, unintentionally and/or unintentionally? (2) If so, then when, where, why, under what conditions, and to what extent? (3) If a business does pollute water, then does this create an ethical obligation (or duty) to do something about it?
Guideline Two: This guideline must be tied to businesses, which provide goods and/or services that are connected with the production of energy. Some possible questions upon which to focus: are, (1) How should business address society’s need for energy, while being ethical regarding the problem of environmental impact? (2) Should business pursue all possibilities-- coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, solar, wind, etc.? Or, is it unethical to get involved with one or more of these? (3) Is it ethical to acquire and sell fossil fuel for energy? (4) If so, are their ethical guidelines for when, where and/or how to do this? For example, is it ethical to pollute an environment to various forms of fossil fuel? Are methods such as “fracking,” off shore drilling, and/or mountaintop removal miningethical?
Guideline Three: This guideline must be tied to businesses, which provide goods and/or services that are connected with the use of animals, both animals that live in natural habitats and animals that are raised in captivity, and must address the following question: “Do animals have any rights that must be respected by business”? Is it ethical to use animals for any and all profit making purposes, such as for food, fur, entertainment shows such as circuses, rodeos, sea shows, dog, chicken and or bull fighting? Is it possible to treat animals in a way that is exploitative? Or, should they be seen to exist only to serve any and all our interests?
Part Two: When you are done with this bill of rights and duties, use it to make judgments for the three cases below. For this exercise it is not necessary that you analyze your cases, just judge them.
Each judgment must be clearly supported by both reasons and evidence. Your reasons must make clear and explicit reference to your ethics policy. Points will be take off if you mix up, or fail to provide, both of these types of support.
When you have completed the exercise, you should have one ethics policy and three judgments. The grade for your policy and for your judgments each will not be tied to whether I agree or disagree with your point of view or any conclusions that you arrive at within your point of view. But points will be taken off for work that is sloppy, superficial and/or poorly written. Contact me if you have questions.
Use a form like this to clearly organize your work:
Part One: Ethics Policy
Declaration of Principles:
Part Two: Judgments
Judgment: Two or three simple declarative statements should be enough. Do not put any reasons or evidence here.
Supporting Evidence: facts relevant to your judgment, coming from the case as well as any additional information that you may want to add.
Supporting Reasons: Relevant quotes from the principles and/or guidelines within your ethics policy do not and any additional evidence here. Do not reiterate your judgment. If you use your judgment or some form of your judgment, then you will be arguing in a circle.
Case One: Nestles
A recent documentary film, "Bottled Life" (2012) focuses a critical spotlight on Nestlé's global expansion strategy in the business of bottled water. In the United States and Europe, the company sells mainly spring water with a designation of origin. In developing countries, however, the corporation pursues another concept – namely Nestlé Pure Life. This product is purified groundwater, enriched with a Nestlé mixture of minerals. Nestlé Pure Life was the brainchild of Peter Brabeck, a Nestlé man almost all his life, a former CEO and currently Chairman of the Board. Today Nestlé Pure Life is the world's top-selling brand of bottled water.
Res Gehriger's research took him to Pakistan, Nestlé's test market for its Pure Life product. The company refused him access to its production plant in Pakistan – but Gehriger did get to see something of life outside the factory fence. In the nearby village groundwater levels have fallen dramatically, and the village fountain water is nothing more than foul-smelling sludge.
Nestlé Pure Life is a clever business concept. And particularly so in the developing world. In countries such as Pakistan where the public water supply has failed or is close to collapse, the company proudly presents its bottled water as a safe health-enhancing alternative. But for the overwhelming majority of consumers, it is an expensive out-of-reach alternative. In Lagos, for example, the mega metropolis of Nigeria/Africa with its population of millions, water always comes at a price. The scenario of a city in which everyone has to pay for life-giving water, is already a sad reality in Lagos. Families eking out an existence in the slums spend half their meager budget on canisters of water. The upper class? They purchase Nestlé Pure Life.
Nestlé places great priority on promoting its image. And when it comes to water, it's Peter Brabeck in particular who does the promoting. As CEO – and even more so after becoming Chairman of the Board in 2005 – he developed a communications strategy which operates under such noble pretenses as "Corporate Social Responsibility" and "Creating Shared Value." A preached philosophy – but a practiced one? In researching this film, journalist Res Gehriger comes to a sad and sobering conclusion. It is that of a company intent on amassing resource rights worldwide. With the aim of dominating the global water market of the future.
Based on the guidelines in your ethics policy, is this ethical business practice? Is Nestles part of the solution to, or part of the problem of, the global water crisis?
Case Two: Fracking
“Fracking” is shorthand within the oil and gas industry for “hydraulic fracturing,” a process in which drillers blast millions of gallons of water, sand and hazardous chemicals at high-pressure into sub-surface rock formations to create fractures that facilitate the flow of recoverable oil or gas. According to the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, 90 percent of all oil and gas wells in the U.S. are “fracked” to boost production. Fracking usually occurs just after a new well is drilled, but many wells are fractured numerous times to get as much production out of a profitable site as possible.
But after a series of accidents in Pennsylvania and elsewhere over the last few years, fracking has come under attack as dangerous to both human health and the environment. The most common problem involves the disposal of the toxic sludge that results from fracking. Texas-based XTO Energy, for instance, racked up 31 fracking-related pollution violations at 20 wells in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale in 2010 alone. But the fact that between 20 and 40 percent of the chemicals remain stranded underground—where they can contaminate drinking water, soils and other features of the environment that plants, animals and humans rely on—is perhaps even more troubling. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a least nine different chemicals commonly used in fracking are injected into oil and gas wells at concentrations that pose a threat to human health.
With Americans getting half of their drinking water from underground sources, it’s no wonder that people are concerned about the risks of fracking—especially since 2005 when George W. Bush exempted oil and gas companies from federal regulations designed to protect our drinking water. Meanwhile, most state oil and gas regulatory agencies don’t require companies to report the volumes or names of chemicals being used in extraction (benzene, chloride, toluene and sulfates are among them). The result, according to the non-profit Oil and Gas Accountability Project, is that one of the country’s dirtiest industries enjoys an exclusive right to “inject toxic fluids directly into good quality groundwater without oversight.”
There are other potential issues with fracking as well. The non-profit Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) warns that beyond contaminating drinking water with toxic and in some cases carcinogenic chemicals, fracking could trigger earthquakes, poison grazing livestock, and overburden our wastewater systems—especially since drilling expanded during Bush’s tenure in the White House.
In response to public concern about the potential risks associated from fracking, the EPA recently commenced a comprehensive study on the topic. Oil companies and environmentalists alike hope that the study puts to rest any debate over the environmental impacts of the process. In the meantime, the city council in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania recently voted to outlaw fracking there, while New York governor David Paterson extended a moratorium on fracking in his state through July of 2011, citing concerns about whether the technique is safe enough to allow it at all moving forward. Other municipalities and states are waiting to see what the EPA finds before making their own decisions on fracking.
Is fracking ethical? Or, at least can it be ethical if certain guidelines are followed?
Case Three: Factory Farming
“Factory farming” is the process of raising livestock in confinement at high stocking density, where a farm operates as a business — a practice typical in industrial farming by agribusinesses. The main products of this industry are meat, milk and eggs for human consumption. However, there have been issues regarding whether factory farming is sustainable and ethical. Confinement at high stocking density is one part of a systematic effort to produce the highest output at the lowest cost by relying on economies of scale, modern machinery, biotechnology, and global trade.
Confinement at high stocking density requires antibiotics and pesticides to mitigate the spread of disease and pestilence exacerbated by these crowded living conditions. In addition, antibiotics are used to stimulate livestock growth by killing intestinal bacteria. There are differences in the way factory farming techniques are practiced around the world. There is a continuing debate over the benefits, risks and ethical questions of factory farming. The issues include the efficiency of food production; animal welfare; whether it is essential for feeding the growing global human population; the environmental impact and the health risks.
The large concentration of animals, animal waste, and the potential for dead animals in a small space poses ethical issues. It is recognized that some techniques used to sustain intensive agriculture can be cruel to animals. As awareness of the problems of intensive techniques has grown, there have been some efforts by governments and industry to remove inappropriate techniques. In the UK for example, the Farm Animal Welfare Council was set up by the government to act as an independent advisor on animal welfare in 1979 and expresses its policy as five freedoms: from hunger & thirst; from discomfort; from pain, injury or disease; to express normal behavior; from fear and distress.
There are differences around the world as to which practices are accepted and there continue to be changes in regulations with animal welfare being a strong driver for increased regulation. For example, the EU is bringing in further regulation to set maximum stocking densities for meat chickens by 2010, where the UK Animal Welfare Minister commented, "The welfare of meat chickens is a major concern to people throughout the European Union. This agreement sends a strong message to the rest of the world that we care about animal welfare.”
Factory farming is greatly debated throughout Australia, with many people disagreeing with the methods and ways in which the animals in factory farms are treated. Animals are often under stress from being kept in confined spaces and will attack each other. In an effort to prevent injury leading to infection, their beaks, tails and teeth are removed. Many piglets will die of shock after having their teeth and tails removed. This is due to the fact that painkilling medicines are not used in these operations. Others say that factory farms are a great way to gain space, with animals such as chickens being kept in spaces smaller than an A4 page.
Less cruel methods of factory farming are possible, but may not be as profitable. For example, in the UK, de-beaking of chickens is deprecated, but it is recognized that it is a method of last resort, seen as better than allowing vicious fighting and ultimately cannibalism. Between 60 and 70 percent of six million breeding sows in the U.S. are confined during pregnancy, and for most of their adult lives, in 2 ft (0.61 m) by 7 ft (2.1 m) gestation crates. According to pork producers and many veterinarians, sows will fight if housed in pens. The largest pork producer in the U.S. said in January 2007 that it may phase out gestation crates by 2017. They are being phased out in the European Union, with a ban effective in 2013 after the fourth week of pregnancy. With the evolution of factory farming, there has been a growing awareness of the issues amongst the wider public, not least due to the efforts of animal rights and welfare campaigners. As a result gestation crates, one of the more contentious practices, are the subject of laws in the U.S., Europe and around the world to phase out their use as a result of pressure to adopt less confined practices.
Is factory farming ethical? Should it be banned, or would this violate the rights of factory farmers?
Extra credit: Find a different kind of case, one that raises a different type of issue from the ones already covered in this exercise, regarding the relationship of business to the environment. Compose a few questions that, when answered, will form a fourth policy guideline. Answer your questions, and then judge your case based on this new guideline. Make sure that the guideline is general, and not specific to the particular case that you are judging. If relevant, you can also use ideas from your other guidelines as part of the reasons that you will offer to support your judgment. Worth a possible 20 extra credit points.
|Due By (Pacific Time)||04/07/2015 10:00 pm|
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