3 Approaches To Ethical Decision Making And My Ford Pinto

Since my first car was a Ford Pinto, I have always been interested in the Ford Pinto explosions that were caused by a defective gasolene tank design provides an gripping case study into approaches to ethical decision making. There are three possible approaches to make when making ethical decisions; a consequentialist approach, a deontological approach and a psychological approach. In a consequentialist approach, the administrator would base their decision by focexploitation attention on the consequences of their action (Trevino and Nelson, 2005, p. 89). In the deontological approach, the administrator would base their decision by focexploitation on what is right or wrong supported common values and rights of individuals and/or groups (p. 91). A administrator basing their action on a psychological approach may vary their actions supported the level of their psychological feature moral development (p. 115).

In the Ford Pinto case, an individual who took a consequentialist approach could easily make the decision which Ford did and produce the car despite the possibility of having the gasolene tank explode on low speed rear-end collisions. Furthermore, they would likely agree with Ford that the car did not need to be recalled once it was on the market. A administrator exploitation the consequentialist approach would look at the consequences for the broadest number of individual and groups as possible and make their decision supported doing the to the worst degree harm and the most amount of good to all. Since the data should that there were no more accidents with the Pinto than with other vehicles and the companies stakeholders would greatly benefit from keeping the costs low and delivery the car to market as fast as possible; they easily could have distinct that the most benefit would come from going ahead with the design since there would be many who would benefit and likely no more than what existing standards permitted would be slashed.

On the other hand, a administrator exploitation the deontological approach would easily have distinct not to move ahead with production and/or to recall the car once it was on the market. Since this individual would base their decision on a set of moral values and/or the rights of individuals, they would likely argue that the car should not be produced unless the rights of the minority group who would be slashed could be assured.

The results of a decision of an individual following a psychological approach would vary contingent their level of psychological feature moral development (p. 115). If for example, they were at a preconventional level they likely would have united to move forward with the sale of the Pinto and/or not to recall it from the market because they would have been extremely influenced by others in the company. They would have feared penalty from direction or they would have hoped that by supporting the majority opinion that they would have been rewarded in some way. Even if the individual was at the conventional level they power still not have distinct to redesign the Pinto’s tank. While strain for “good behavior” they would have been extremely influenced by the majority of administrators in the company and not gone against their will. They also would have followed the “letter of the law” which supported the case of not needing to make a change to the design. Only if they had a extremely developed postconventional or high-principled level of moral development would they have felt the need to go against the trend inside the company in order to uphold the rights of the minority “regardless of the majority opinion (p. 115).

By the way, I survived my 1974 Ford Pinto! Thank goodness I wasn’t rear-ended!


Trevino, L., and Nelson, K., (2005). Corporate social responsibility and social control ethics. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

3 Approaches To Ethical Decision Making And My Ford Pinto

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