[ExI] Business Ethics - Oxymoron?

BillK pharos at gmail.com
Sat Sep 26 10:27:01 UTC 2015

The latest scandal with VW falsifying auto diesel engine emission
tests has attracted much discussion and shock - horror responses.

But the ethics folk are not so surprised -

This can’t be the act of a few rogue engineers, she says. The
implications go all the way up the corporate ladder. “We see how
widespread among the product line this device was. It would have had
to be tested and updated. This is serious, massive corporate
maleficence that affects people’s health. There’s no question that
everyone involved knew this was unethical.”
The case highlights the failures of a compliance mindset, Valor adds.
It shows that ethics are typically considered in terms of staying
within certain externally enforced rules. Agencies like the EPA
enforce rules and professionals pursue their jobs in any way they like
as long as they don’t violate those rules. “It’s just a box you check
off on a list of rules,” she says. “It implies that as long as you
don’t get caught violating rules, there’s no harm.”

The point I think is significant is that the fraud was detected by
independent tests. Now, business is very competitive. Why did none of
the other car manufacturers notice that VW diesel engines appeared to
be producing remarkable test results? The obvious answer is that all
the manufacturers were behaving in a similar fashion. (Perhaps not as
extreme as VW).
So we can expect the scandal to spread.

Petrol car owners have known for a long time not to believe the fuel
consumption figures produced from the standard tests. There are web
sites where users report real life fuel consumption so that buyers are
not misled.

Does competitive business practice mean that ethical businesses must
lose and go bust?


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