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KXEX2165_Moral & Ethics_Assignment 1

Critical thinking components including whistle blowing and utilitarianism

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KXEX2165_Moral & Ethics_Assignment 1

  1. 1. LEE CHIA CHUN Moral & Ethics for Engineers KEM 100017 KXEX 2165 Contact: 016-4022146; lee_chia_chun@hotmail.com 1 UNIVERSITY OF MALAYA DEPARTMENT OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERING SESSION 2012/2013 KXEX 2165 MORAL AND ENGINEERING PROFESION ETHICS ASSIGNMENT III NAME : LEE CHIA CHUN MATRIC NUM : KEM100017
  2. 2. LEE CHIA CHUN Moral & Ethics for Engineers KEM 100017 KXEX 2165 Contact: 016-4022146; lee_chia_chun@hotmail.com 2 QUESTION 1: Question 1: Present and defend your view as to whether the actions of Syarikat Kimia Mutiara are morally permissible, obligatory or admirable? Firstly, let’s identify the grey area of the matter. The fundamental question to ask here is could the action of transferring the construction and design of the chemical plant facility plan to another Company Z without the prior notice or permission from the Company X, in which such action taken by the Syarikat Kimia Mutiara be justified. Secondly, let’s analyze the issue by step by step by breaking the problem into manageable parts. By doing so, the assumptions are checked and the problem can be explored from different perspectives that potentially carry different consequences. Part 1: Did the Company X patent the design and construction plan of the chemical plant facility? Let’s deal with the possibility of a “Yes, Company X has patented its plan” first. According to the Patent Law, if the Company X were to be registered a patent over its plan, it is granted the exclusive rights to make, use, sell, and import an invention for a limited period of time, in exchange for the public disclosure of the invention. Therefore, when Company X and the Syarikat Kimia Mutiara are in the discussion, Company X should be able to produce another set of legal document to notify Syarikat Kimia Mutiara not to plagiarize nor transfer the identical plan (idea) to third party for manufacturing. Anna has worked at Syarikat Kimia Mutiara as a process engineer for nearly eight years, and she has signed a secrecy agreement with the firm that prohibits his divulging information that the company considers proprietary. Syarikat Kimia Mutiara solicits competitive quotations on the design and construction of a chemical plant facility. All the bidders are required to furnish as a part of their proposals the processing scheme planned to produce the specified final products. The process generally is one which has been in common use for several years. All of the quotations are generally similar in most respects from the standpoint of technology. Contractor X submits the highest –price quotation. He includes in his proposals, however, a unique approach to a portion of the processing scheme. Yields are indicated to be better than current practice, and quality improvement is apparent. A quick laboratory check indicates that the innovation is practicable. Syarikat Kimia Mutiara then calls on Contractor Z, the low bidder, and asks him to evaluate and bid on an alternate scheme conceived by Contractor X. Contractor Z is not told the source of alternative design. Syarikat Kimia Mutiara makes no representation in his quotation request that replies will be held in confidence.
  3. 3. LEE CHIA CHUN Moral & Ethics for Engineers KEM 100017 KXEX 2165 Contact: 016-4022146; lee_chia_chun@hotmail.com 3 However, if Company X has yet patented its plan prior to the submission of its proposal to Syarikat Kimia Mutiara for consideration, then the situation can be briefly explained by the knowledge of Contract Law. The action of submitting a quotation by Company X to Syarikat Kimia Mutiara does not necessarily reflect the purchasing decision. After a reasonable period of consideration, should Syarikat Kimia Mutiara does not get back to Company X, and should in the event of finding similar proposal is being bid and has been accepted by Syarikat Kimia Mutiara, then Company X cannot condemn any party for plagiarism, at least from the legal point of view. Now, let’s probe the possibility of a “Yes, Company X has patented its plan” further. Part 2: Even if the Company X has patented its plan (idea), did Company Z produce exactly the same plan as conceived by Company X? This part deals with the question “how similar is similar”. We could not deny the possibility of Company Z came up with a better plan by introducing a certain degree of modification to the existing plan conceived by Company X. So, the similarity part of the plan devised by Company Z could easily be justified as coincidence while the modified part could be considered as a breakthrough to the Company Z. However, getting back to the fundamental act of transferring the initial plan (idea) to the third party is unethical and unprofessional. In this respect, Syarikat Kimia Mutiara can be sued for such as action if sufficient proof could be gathered by the prosecutor, which is Company X. As a result, the patent war between Company X and Company Z might ensued due to the unethical action taken by Syarikat Kimia Mutiara. Similar real-life case is Apple filed a lawsuit against Samsung for the unresolvable conflict of patent on the smart phones manufactured. A small conclusion to be drawn from this part two is that the action of transferring Company X’s business confidential to Company Z without the approval from Company X, is not ethically sound. In event of sufficient proof is gathered, Syarikat Kimia Mutiara could be prosecuted. In addition, the very act of Syarikat Kimia Mutiara might have created unnecessary conflict between Company X and Company Z that would eventually complicate the matter, therefore tarnishing the reputation of all three parties. Such sly intention and action by the Syarikat Kimia Mutiara is beyond the range of acceptance of morality, unimpressive and not admirable at all. Part 3: Probing the Matter by the Wearing the Spectacles of Utilitarianism Long-term Impact The potential consequence of transferring the plan which belongs to Company X without its approval would harm the corporate relationship between Syarikat Kimia Mutiara and Company X. The bad news and its unfair policy soon drag the performance of Syarikat Kimia Mutiara down almost immediately, presumably. The unfair bidding method used by Syarikat Kimia Mutiara would chase many potentially good bidders away, leaving those substandard cheapskate bidders which are nothing good but could only offer cheap and possibly bad service. As a result, Syarikat Kimia Mutiara could not produce fine end products to the market due to its unfairness in the bidding processes, in the hope of maximizing its profit. Sooner or later, investors would be discouraged and left for greener pastures. No one is happy. Therefore, the very act of Syarikat Kimia Mutiara should not be permissible.
  4. 4. LEE CHIA CHUN Moral & Ethics for Engineers KEM 100017 KXEX 2165 Contact: 016-4022146; lee_chia_chun@hotmail.com 4 Short-term Impact Despite its unscrupulous and unfair judgment throughout bidding procedures, Syarikat Kimia Mutiara may have overemphasized the importance of making huge profits to the extent of exploiting Company X. From the short-term impact point of view, Syarikat Kimia Mutiara might receive appeals from its buyers for being able to produce the chemical plant facility of higher quality. Its reputation could be boosted for a short range of time. Story would be completely different soon after Company X and Company Z found out the truth. Such action of Syarikat Kimia Mutiara may be deemed as obligatory, in the short term. Conclusion is that the action of Syarikat Kimia Mutiara is not ethically and morally right. Question 2: Assume that Anna’s boyfriend is an employee at contractor Company X. May Anna ethically provide the information to her boyfriend’s company regarding the actions of her employer? Was hers a case of legitimate whistle-blowing? Before going deeper, it is essential to understand the definition of whistle-blowing and the conditions to be met in order to be considered legitimate. Whistle-blowing is an act of telling the public or someone in authority about alleged dishonest or illegal activities (misconduct) occurring in a government department or private company or organization. The alleged misconduct may be classified in many ways; for example, a violation of a law, rule, regulation and/or a direct threat to public interest, such as fraud, health/safety violations, and corruption. Whistleblowers may make their allegations internally (for example, to other people within the accused organization) or externally (to regulators, law enforcement agencies, to the media or to groups concerned with the issues). Now, it is appropriate to formulate the questions by asking if Anna is considered a whistle-blower, as she has ethically provided the information to her boyfriend who happens to be working in Company X. However, did the direct consequence of infringing the property right of company X by Syarikat Kimia Mutiara affect the welfare and well-being of the public? The question clearly has an obvious answer. Be default, Syarikat Kimia Mutiara has acted in this way under the effect of its obligation to maximize profits and giving the best to the its customers and stakeholders. Despite its act was unethically sound, the violation towards Company X’s property right did not endanger the society. On this basis, Anna cannot be considered as whistle-blower, but more suitable to be dubbed as a gossiper that would not bring her benefits. This is because Anna has signed a secrecy agreement with the firm. If her boyfriend were to be caught by Syarikat Kimia Mutiara in spreading the insider information, her boyfriend would be prosecuted by Syarikat Kimia Mutiara for defaming the company’s reputation. Next, he would face the dilemma on whether or not to point out Anna as the “instigator”. Furthermore, her boyfriend may not be in the authority of the firm, hence telling the wrong person might not fix the problem. Due to these above reasons, Anna cannot be regarded as the whistle-blower.
  5. 5. LEE CHIA CHUN Moral & Ethics for Engineers KEM 100017 KXEX 2165 Contact: 016-4022146; lee_chia_chun@hotmail.com 5 Question 3: What specific obligations, ideals, and effects should have been considered before either one become a whistle-blower? In this particular situation, we need to investigate the direct consequences of very act of Syarikat Kimia Mutiara would put the well-being of the society at stake or otherwise. In this situation, the firm’s action did not bring harm to the society as a whole, except for corrupting the fair bidding system. The question now is “under what kind of situation could we claim the action by Anna be considered as whistle-blower” when she purportedly revealed the insider news to his boyfriend. If the design and construction of the chemical plant facility produced by the low bidder, Company Z, despite modifying the plan (idea) conceived by Company X, have been found faulty, and therefore endanger the users directly and/or indirectly, then the very action of Anna could be considered as whistle-blowing. Another condition to be considered is that when in the event of law case between the prosecutor (Company X) and the prosecuted (Company Z). Consideration needs to be given to another set of consequences uniquely faced by both parties, Company X and Company Z. As a result, the consequences could be undermining the interest of one of the companies and/or threatening public safety/health. In this case, Anna must first try to raise the concern to Syarikat Kimia Mutiara so that her firm could be served as a deterrent to the threats. In almost every sector of our society the most important condition of an effective fight against misconducts and malpractices is the proper flow of information. A big barrier to this flow is often the fact that those involved in wrongdoings have an interest in keeping information hidden from publicity and authorities. In revealing such abuses or irregularities those may be of the most help who are witnesses of these acts and are ready to share with others the information they possess. Whistleblowing is providing a solution to resolve such situations: it opens nonexistent or hidden information sources and channels. Since she is legally bounded not to reveal the proprietary of the company, she must find her way to talk tactfully with the top management of the Syarikat Kimia Mutiara with the intention to convince Syarikat Kimia Mutiara to tell the truths in the court. Or else, she could brave herself up to be the eye- witness and point out the real culprit.
  6. 6. LEE CHIA CHUN Moral & Ethics for Engineers KEM 100017 KXEX 2165 Contact: 016-4022146; lee_chia_chun@hotmail.com 6 Reference 1. Retrieved from Whistleblower Whistleblower en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whistleblower on 15th April 2013 2. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utilitarianism on 15th April 2013 3. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intellectual_property End of Assignment

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