Ethics Seminar—Discussion on The Insider (film)

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Ethics Seminar—Discussion on The Insider (film)

  1. 1. The Insider
  2. 2. Subsequent to the events dramatized in this movie, the tobacco industry in 1998 settled the lawsuits filed against it by Mississippi and 49 other states for $246 billion…
  3. 3. Jeffrey Wigand
  4. 4. Jeffrey Wigand
  5. 5. Lowell Bergman
  6. 6. Lowell Bergman
  7. 7. Fires him
  8. 8. Fires him
  9. 9. Fires him Encourages him to tell his story
  10. 10. The Public Duty to family Duty to public Fires him Encourages him to tell his story
  11. 11. The Public Duty to family Duty to public Fires him Breach of Brea Confidentiality Encourages him to tell his story
  12. 12. The Public Duty to family Duty to public Threatens family Fires him Breach of Brea Confidentiality Might sue CBS if Encourages him they air the show to tell his story
  13. 13. The Public Duty to family Duty to public Threatens family Fires him Breach of Brea Confidentiality Might sue CBS if Encourages him they air the show to tell his story Disagreements over whether to edit the show
  14. 14. Discussion of Issues • Should Wigand disclose his information? • Is it unethical to encourage another person to break his promise for a greater social good? • Should 60 Minutes have succumbed to corporate interests and aired the edited version?
  15. 15. Should Wigand disclose his information?
  16. 16. Should Wigand disclose his information?
  17. 17. Should Wigand disclose his information? • Wigand had tried to negotiate with Brown and Williamson’s CEO, and he was fired. • The CEO had also perjured himself in court to protect Brown and Williamson. • Hence, clearly negotiation is not an option.
  18. 18. Wigand’s Utilitarian Considerations
  19. 19. Wigand’s Utilitarian Considerations Choices Total Pleasure less Total Pain equals Total Utility Great benefits to the Wigand and his family lose High utility public all benefits from the confidentiality agreement Possible benefits to public Satisfies Wigand’s desire to far outweigh the costs hurt Brown & Williamson Wigand will face a lawsuit To disclose Death threats Damage to the tobacco industry and its employees Wigand and his family keep Wigand will always feel Low utility all benefits from the guilty confidentiality agreement Wigand knows that the The public will be hurt as public is exposed to a lot The tobacco industry and the tobacco companies more harm To not disclose its employees are protected continue to act with impunity
  20. 20. Wigand’s Utilitarian Considerations Choices Total Pleasure less Total Pain equals Total Utility Great benefits to the Wigand and his family lose High utility public all benefits from the confidentiality agreement Possible benefits to public Satisfies Wigand’s desire to far outweigh the costs hurt Brown & Williamson Wigand will face a lawsuit To disclose Death threats Damage to the tobacco industry and its employees Wigand and his family keep Wigand will always feel Low utility all benefits from the guilty confidentiality agreement Wigand knows that the The public will be hurt as public is exposed to a lot The tobacco industry and the tobacco companies more harm To not disclose its employees are protected continue to act with impunity
  21. 21. Wigand’s Motivations
  22. 22. Wigand’s Motivations
  23. 23. A Kantian Perspective • Moral duty • Intention matters • If acting based on personal advantages or self interest, then he is not acting from duty. • What was Wigand’s intention in disclosing the information? • Anger at company acting with impunity? • Good of humanity? • Consideration: Would Wigand have disclosed information if he were not fired?
  24. 24. A Kantian Perspective • Principle of Universality • Maxim: I should not breach a contract even if I knew it forces me to uphold false statements. • Maxim: I should breach a contract if I knew it forces me to uphold false statements. • Does this contradict with the Universal Law to keep your promises? • Yes
  25. 25. A Kantian Perspective • “Truthfulness in statements that one cannot avoid is a human being’s duty to everyone, however great the disadvantage to him or to another that may result from it … all rights which are based on contracts come to nothing and lose their force; and this is a wrong inflicted upon humanity generally”
  26. 26. Our Take on Kant • Kant would suggest that Wigand does not disclose the information. • Moral Duty : Must act from a duty to protect public health – debatable in Wigand’s case • Principle of Universality : Uphold the integrity of the contract = Keeping Promises
  27. 27. Should Wigand disclose his information? • Utilitarian perspective Disclose • Kantian perspective Don’t disclose
  28. 28. Conclusion • Morally Permissible • Should cause serious harm to employees or public • Should be reported to an immediate superior • Should exhaust all internal procedures • Morally Obligatory • Must have documentary evidence • Must be reasonably sure that it will succeed
  29. 29. Is it unethical to encourage another person to break his promise for a greater social good?
  30. 30. Is it unethical to encourage another person to break his promise for a greater social good?
  31. 31. Lowell’s Utilitarian Considerations
  32. 32. Lowell’s Utilitarian Considerations Choices Total Pleasure less Total Pain equals Total Utility Possible benefits to the Wigand and his family Low to medium public lose all benefits from the utility confidentiality agreement Uphold the integrity of Possible benefits to To encourage “60 Minutes” and CBS Possible lawsuit against public are not certain News CBS But costs are more Damage to the tobacco evident industry and its employees Wigand and his family “60 Minutes” and CBS Medium to high keep all benefits from the News lose one episode utility confidentiality agreement The public might not Lowell knows the full To not encourage The tobacco industry find out the truth extent of the pleasure, but and its employees are not the pain protected
  33. 33. Lowell’s Utilitarian Considerations Choices Total Pleasure less Total Pain equals Total Utility Possible benefits to the Wigand and his family Low to medium public lose all benefits from the utility confidentiality agreement Uphold the integrity of Possible benefits to To encourage “60 Minutes” and CBS Possible lawsuit against public are not certain News CBS But costs are more Damage to the tobacco evident industry and its employees Wigand and his family “60 Minutes” and CBS Medium to high keep all benefits from the News lose one episode utility confidentiality agreement The public might not Lowell knows the full To not encourage The tobacco industry find out the truth extent of the pleasure, but and its employees are not the pain protected
  34. 34. A Kantian Perspective • One must act from a moral duty • Motives? • Principle of humanity • Treating people not as a means but as an end
  35. 35. A Kantian Perspective • Principle of Universality • Maxim: One ought not to encourage another person to break his promise even if there is a greater social good. • Maxim: One ought to encourage another person to break his promise if there is a greater social good.
  36. 36. Rawlsian Justice as Fairness • One: Equal right to the most extensive system of basic liberties compatible with a similar system of liberty for all Company’s right to privacy vs Right of society to know the truth
  37. 37. Rawlsian Justice as Fairness • Two: Social and economic inequalities: • Greatest benefit to the least advantaged • Attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity Will it make life better off for the people who are now worst off?
  38. 38. Is it unethical to encourage another person to break his promise for a greater social good? • Utilitarian perspective Unethical • Kantian perspective Unethical • Rawlsian perspective Ethical
  39. 39. The Public Duty to family Duty to public Threatens family Fires him Breach of Brea Confidentiality Might sue CBS if Encourages him they air the show to tell his story Disagreements over whether to edit the show
  40. 40. Recap 2nd Issue: Is it unethical to encourage 1st Issue: Should Wigand Disclose the another person to break his promise information? even if it is for a greater social good? Not encourage Disclose - Lowell knows the full Utilitarian -Possible benefits to public far outweigh extent of the pleasure, but the costs not the pain Not encourage Don’t Disclose - Breaking a promise is wrong therefore Kantian - Violates the universal law to keep encouraging another person to do so is promises also wrong Encourage Rawlsian - Right to know the truth Disclose Our Stand Not Encourage - Morally Permissible to do so
  41. 41. Recap 2nd Issue: Is it unethical to encourage 1st Issue: Should Wigand Disclose the another person to break his promise information? even if it is for a greater social good? Not encourage Disclose - Lowell knows the full Utilitarian -Possible benefits to public far outweigh extent of the pleasure, but the costs not the pain Not encourage Don’t Disclose - Breaking a promise is wrong therefore Kantian - Violates the universal law to keep encouraging another person to do so is promises also wrong Encourage Rawlsian - Right to know the truth Disclose Our Stand Not Encourage - Morally Permissible to do so
  42. 42. Recap 2nd Issue: Is it unethical to encourage 1st Issue: Should Wigand Disclose the another person to break his promise information? even if it is for a greater social good? Not encourage Disclose - Lowell knows the full Utilitarian -Possible benefits to public far outweigh extent of the pleasure, but the costs not the pain Not encourage Don’t Disclose - Breaking a promise is wrong therefore Kantian - Violates the universal law to keep encouraging another person to do so is promises also wrong Encourage Rawlsian - Right to know the truth Disclose Our Stand Not Encourage - Morally Permissible to do so
  43. 43. Recap 2nd Issue: Is it unethical to encourage 1st Issue: Should Wigand Disclose the another person to break his promise information? even if it is for a greater social good? Not encourage Disclose - Lowell knows the full Utilitarian -Possible benefits to public far outweigh extent of the pleasure, but the costs not the pain Not encourage Don’t Disclose - Breaking a promise is wrong therefore Kantian - Violates the universal law to keep encouraging another person to do so is promises also wrong Encourage Rawlsian - Right to know the truth Disclose Our Stand Not Encourage - Morally Permissible to do so
  44. 44. Recap 2nd Issue: Is it unethical to encourage 1st Issue: Should Wigand Disclose the another person to break his promise information? even if it is for a greater social good? Not encourage Disclose - Lowell knows the full Utilitarian -Possible benefits to public far outweigh extent of the pleasure, but the costs not the pain Not encourage Don’t Disclose - Breaking a promise is wrong therefore Kantian - Violates the universal law to keep encouraging another person to do so is promises also wrong Encourage Rawlsian - Right to know the truth Disclose Our Stand Not Encourage - Morally Permissible to do so
  45. 45. Should 60 minutes have succumbed to corporate interests and aired the edited version?
  46. 46. Should 60 minutes have succumbed to corporate interests and aired the edited version?
  47. 47. Utilitarian Cost-Benefit Analysis
  48. 48. Utilitarian Cost-Benefit Analysis Choices Total Pleasure less Total Pain equals Total Utility Public welfare as truth is Lose Job(s) Medium to High told Lose 5.3 million Utility Maintain integrity Potential lawsuit Lots of pain by them but Don’t Agree Maintain professionalism Potential sale to public benefits greatly from Westinghouse ruined information Keep Job(s) Guilt Low Utility Gain 5.3 million Damaging CBS News Lots of pain by general Avoid lawsuit reputation public as a whole Agree Sale to Westinghouse Lose credibility Value of job increase Public continues to be oblivious to information Maintain Integrity Lose Job(s) High Utility Maintain Professionalism Lose 5.3 million Integrity and Increase options available professionalism is maintained Negotiate and chance of having more options
  49. 49. Utilitarian Cost-Benefit Analysis Choices Total Pleasure less Total Pain equals Total Utility Public welfare as truth is Lose Job(s) Medium to High told Lose 5.3 million Utility Maintain integrity Potential lawsuit Lots of pain by them but Don’t Agree Maintain professionalism Potential sale to public benefits greatly from Westinghouse ruined information Keep Job(s) Guilt Low Utility Gain 5.3 million Damaging CBS News Lots of pain by general Avoid lawsuit reputation public as a whole Agree Sale to Westinghouse Lose credibility Value of job increase Public continues to be oblivious to information Maintain Integrity Lose Job(s) High Utility Maintain Professionalism Lose 5.3 million Integrity and Increase options available professionalism is maintained Negotiate and chance of having more options
  50. 50. Utilitarian Cost-Benefit Analysis Choices Total Pleasure less Total Pain equals Total Utility Public welfare as truth is Lose Job(s) Medium to High told Lose 5.3 million Utility Maintain integrity Potential lawsuit Lots of pain by them but Don’t Agree Maintain professionalism Potential sale to public benefits greatly from Westinghouse ruined information Keep Job(s) Guilt Low Utility Gain 5.3 million Damaging CBS News Lots of pain by general Avoid lawsuit reputation public as a whole Agree Sale to Westinghouse Lose credibility Value of job increase Public continues to be oblivious to information Maintain Integrity Lose Job(s) High Utility Maintain Professionalism Lose 5.3 million Integrity and Increase options available professionalism is maintained Negotiate and chance of having more options
  51. 51. A Kantian Perspective • Moral Duty • Intent of airing the edited version of 60 Minutes • Did 60 Minutes air the edited version to deviate from telling the truth? • The Greater the truth Higher damages to B&W • Consideration: Would 60 Minutes have aired the edited version… • If there had been no potential sale to Westinghouse? • If there were no payments to be made to the General counsel and President of CBS News once the sale was completed?
  52. 52. A Kantian Perspective • Principle of Universality • Maxim: Lying, or deception of any kind, would be forbidden under any interpretation and in any circumstance. • Is it an Universal law to tell the truth? • Yes • If so, there is only one such duty, that duty applies.
  53. 53. Our Take on Kant • Kant would suggest that CBS airs the full version of 60 Minutes • Moral Duty: Must act from a duty to reveal the whole truth and nothing but the truth • Principle of Universality : Uphold the law of being truthful
  54. 54. Should 60 minutes have succumbed to corporate interests and aired the edited version? • Utilitarian perspective Negotiate • Kantian perspective Tell the truth
  55. 55. Food for Thought • If you were the General Counsel or the President of CBS News, would you have been swayed by $3.9 million or $1.4 million respectively? • What is the value or worth of your ethics? • Is there a price that can match that value? • Will you hold true in the future? • Is it moral for companies to produce and sell what is harmful?
  56. 56. Discussion
  57. 57. Discussion

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