nothing extraordi- narily difficult about determination of threshold levels and prosecution of those who dump once the threshold has been reached. The individual rights approach is simply stricter than the utilitarian, social (risk) cost-benefit approach, yet the same science and technology can be employed in administering both systems. 25. See op. cit., Machan, Individuals and Their Rights. See, also, Tibor Machan, Private Rights, Public Illusions (New Brusnwick, NJ: Transaction Books, forthcom- ing). 26. See, Stephen Jay Gould, Wonderful Life (New York: W. W. Norton, 1989). This content downloaded from 184.108.40.206 on Mon, 14 Oct 2019 23:57:11 UTC All use subject to Reflection 2: The Ford Pinto Case The Ford Pinto From: Moral Issues in Business 8th ed. Shaw & Barry (pp. 83-86) There was a time when the “made in Japan” label brought a predictable smirk of superiority to the face of most Americans. The quality of most Japanese products usually was as low as their price. In fact, few imports could match their domestic counterparts, the proud products of Yankee know-how. But by the late 19 60s, an invasion of foreign-made goods
chiseled a few worry lines into the countenance of the U.S. industry. In Detroit, worry was fast fading to panic as the Japanese, not to mention the Germans, began to gobbleup more and more of the subcompact auto market. Never one to take a back seat to the competition, Ford Motor Company decided to meetthe threat from abroad head-on. In 19 68, Ford executives decided to produce the Pinto. Known inside the company as “Lee’s car,” after Ford president Lee Iacocca, the Pinto was to weigh no more than 2,000 pounds and cost no more than $2,000. Eager to have its subcompact ready for the 19 71 model year, Ford decided to compressthe normal drafting-board-to-showroom time of about three-and- a-half years into two. The compressed schedule meant that any design changes typically made before production-line tooling would have to be made during it. Before producing the Pinto, Ford crash-tested various prototypes, in part to learn whether they met a safety standard proposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to reduce fires from traffic collisions. This standard would have required that by 19 72 all new autos be able to withstand a rear-end impact of 20mph without fuel loss, and that by 19 73 they be able to withstand an impact of 30 mph. The prototypes all failed the 20- mph test. In 19 70 Ford crash-tested the Pinto itself, and the result was the same: ruptured gas tanks and dangerous leaks. The only Pintos to pass the test had been modified in some way–for example, with a rubber bladder in the gas
tank or a piece of steel between the tank and the rear bumper. Thus, Ford knew that the Pinto represented a serious fire hazard when struck from the rear, even in low-speed collisions. Ford officials faced a decision. Should they go ahead with the existing design, thereby meeting the production timetable but possibly jeopardizing consumer safety? Or should they delay production of the Pinto by
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