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Virtue Ethics and Case StudiesWe are often taught to live in a virtuous life, but what is virtue ethics and howit is applied to our personal life and professional business life? Virtue ethics is a philosophy developed by Aristotle and other ancient Greeks. Virtue ethics theory emphasizes a person’s moral character, which is the driving force for an ethical behavior. You could consider an action is right a wrong if a virtue person would do the same action in the same situation. According to Aristotle, the ultimate goal of a human being is “eudaimonia” (flourishing, happiness) and it is best achieved by developing, cultivating virtues, specifically by practicing virtue of honesty, courage, integrity, generosity, self-control, fidelity, responsibility etc. With the basic understanding about virtue ethics, I would like to apply the theory to the Ford Pinto case. (Shaw and Barry, 2001, pp. 83-86)The case was infamous in 1970s when many severe bodily, death injury car accidents related to the car’s explosion due to a defective fuel system design. Was the Ford aware of its defective gas tank before selling the cars to the consumers? “Thus, Ford knew that the Pinto represented a serious fire hazard when struck from the rear, even in low-speed collisions (Shaw and Barry, 2001)”. However, even after they were aware of the dangerof their defective product, they decided to go ahead with the production. Moreover, they cut the time short from 3.5 years into 2 years. Their reason was that “the increased cost outweighed the benefits of a new gas tank design (Shaw and Barry, 2001)” Here are a couple of aftermath figures of the Ford’s decision that I directly withdraw from the case study from Moral Issues inBusiness 8th ed. Shaw & Barry (pp. 83-86)- “The lawsuits reported that the Pinto was responsible for a number of fire related deaths closer to 500 (its critics say). 95% of the fatalities would have survived if Ford located the fuel tank over the axle”.- “In 1978 Ford was obliged to recall all 1971-76 Pintos for fuel-tank modifications.- “Between 1971 and 1978, about fifty lawsuits were brought against Ford. In the Richard Grimshaw case, in addition to awarding over $3 million in compensatory damages to the victims of a Pinto crash, the jury awarded a landmark $125 million in punitive damages against Ford. The judge reduced punitive damages to 3.5 million”.Tremendous financial loss for lawsuit, damage of company credibility, loss of valuable lives, etc.…are the results
of the Ford’s immoral, unethical decision at that time.