Business Ethics: Final Exam
Read the case below and write about ONE of the topics below making sure to IDENTIFY THE MAIN ETHICAL DILEMMA:
1. Discuss the differences between what a Kantian and what a Utilitarian would decide to do
2. Argue one side or the other as a Kantian or a Utilitarian
3. Discuss what is “just” from a Rawlsian perspective vs. a Nozickian perspective
4. Argue for justice from either Rawls' perspective or Nozick's perspective
5. Argue for/against Milton Friedman's point of view
The essays will be graded based on completeness of the answers, understanding of the ethical issue, sound philosophical reasoning, and clarity of writing. The answer must be at least 2 pages long, but more importantly it must completely answer the question.
Case Study: Plasma International
The Sunday headline in the Tampa, Florida, newspaper read:
Blood Sales Result in Exorbitant Profits for Local Firm
The story went on to relate how the Plasma International Company, headquartered in Tampa, Florida, purchased blood in underdeveloped countries for as little a 90 cents a pinti and resold the blood to hospitals in the United States and South America. A recent disaster in Nicaragua produced scores of injured persons and the need for fresh blood. Plasma International had 10,000 pints of blood flown to Nicaragua from West Africa and charged hospitals $150 per pint, netting the firm nearly 1.5 million dollars. As a result of the newspaper story, a group of irate citizens, led by prominent civic leaders, demanded that the City of Tampa, and the State of Florida, revoke Plasma International's licenses to practice business. Others protested to their congressmen to seek enactment of legislation designed to halt the sale of blood for profit. The spokesperson was reported as saying, "What kind of people are these-selling life and death? These men prey on the needs of dying people, buying blood from poor, ignorant Africans for 90 cents worth of beads and junk, and selling it to injured people for $150 a pint. Well, this company will soon find out that the people of our community won't stand for their kind around here."
"I just don't understand it. We run a business just like any other business; we pay taxes and we try to make an honest profit," said Jack Smith as he responded to reporters at the Tampa International Airport. He had just returned home from testifying before the House Subcommittee on Medical Standards. The recent publicity surrounding his firm's activities during the recent earthquakes had once again fanned the flames of public opinion.
Smith was a successful stockbroker when he founded Plasma International. Recognizing the world's need for safe, uncontaminated, and reasonably priced whole blood and blood plasma, Smith and several of his colleagues pooled their resources and went into this business. Initially most of the blood and plasma they sold was purchased through store-front operations in the United States. Most of the donors were, unfortunately, men and women who used the money obtained from the sale of their blood for wine and drugs. "While sales of the blood and plasma grew dramatically several cases of hepatitis were reported in recipients. So the company began a search for new sources.
The company recruited a highly qualified team of medical consultants. This team, after extensive testing and a worldwide search, recommended that the blood profiles and donor characteristics of several rural West African tribes made them ideal prospective donors. After negotiating with the State Department and the government of Burami, the company was able to sign an agreement with several of the Burami tribal chieftains.
As Smith reviewed these facts, and the many costs involved in the sale of a commodity as fragile as blood, he concluded that the publicity was grossly unfair. His thoughts were interrupted by the reporter's question: "Mr. Smith, is it necessary to sell a vitally needed medical supply, like blood, at such high prices especially to poor people in such a critical situation?" "Our prices are determined on the basis of a lot of costs that we incur that the public isn't even aware of," Smith responded. However, when reporters pressed him for details of these "relevant" costs, Smith refused any further comment. He noted that such information was proprietary in nature and not for public consumption
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