BUS186 Ford Pinto - "The Ford Pinto" Professor...

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“The Ford Pinto” Professor Bashaw Phil 186 4/15/2008 Introduction
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In this paper I will be writing about case number 2.2, The Ford Pinto. I will be Using Ayn Rand’s ethical egoism as my moral theory and show that from a ethical egoist perspective, the principles in the case are behaving immorally. Summary of the Case During the 1960s foreign competition began to worry some of the domestic industries, especially the auto industry which began to lose the subcompact auto market. In response to this pressure, Ford decided to produce the Pinto car unit. In order to compete with foreign competitors, Ford decided that it would reduce the “normal drafting-board-to-showroom time of three and a half years into two” (Pg. 79). Before they produced the car, Ford crash-tested some prototypes based on the standards of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and failed each one. The first was to withstand a 20 mph rear-end impact without fuel loss and the second a 20 mph impact. When it crash tested the Pinto itself, it failed, causing ruptured gas tanks and dangerous leaks. With the results at hand, Ford had to decide whether they would continue production on an unsafe car or fix the problems and deal with production setbacks and more costs. They decided to rely on cost-benefit reason, which is “an analysis in monetary terms of the expected costs and benefits of doing something” (Pg.79). Ford had previously done a report where it illustrates the computations it applied to fuel leakage in rollover accidents. It’s believed that form similar reports they concluded that the increased costs outweighed the benefits of a new design. In a “Fatalities” report, Ford engineers estimate the costs of improvements and the estimated number of
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people killed by fires in rollovers to 180. In 1972, the NHTSA gave a person a value of “$200,745” (pg.79) when they are killed in an auto accident. The text provides a table with the figures that the NHTSA used to calculate the value of a person killed in an auto accident, as well as how Ford assessed the costs and benefits. The tables suggested that safety improvements outweigh the benefits and the “Fatalities” report showed that it’s cheaper to not fix the cars. The consequences proved to be very costly for Ford when over 500 fire deaths were reported from the Pinto. The NHTSA also adopted a new standard in 1976, which forced Ford to recall all the Pinto models of the years 1971-1976 for fuel tank modifications. Between the years of 1971 and 1978 Ford received over fifty lawsuits for rear-end accident related cases. In one case the judge advised the jury to convict Ford only if they had “clearly disregarded” the harm and if the disregard was a substantial deviation from standards. Luckily for Ford the jury found it not guilty for criminal homicide. One thing that Ford has always stated is that every one of their Pinto models had met or surpassed the standards. However, it doesn’t mention that lobbyists of the
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This note was uploaded on 09/08/2010 for the course PHIL 186 at San Jose State University .

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BUS186 Ford Pinto - "The Ford Pinto" Professor...

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