Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Case of the Sole Remaining Supplier

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In this case, the moral issues involve the selling of transistors to a company responsible for the making of pacemakers known to cause deaths in people. Additionally, due to the inherent risk of human error associated with the lack of expert ability within the medical field, and considering that technology is still within its infancy, the procedure itself could prove fatal. Is it morally acceptable to sell to this company considering these circumstances? How many live’s are at risk of fatality? Could these risks outweigh the life-saving advantages the technology has offered? The decisions must be weighed against what is more important � such as saving the company from litigation by not selling to the pacemaker company, having a guilty conscience associated with the lives that may be lost due to lack of providers for the transistors, or selling to the company, taking the risk, hoping that the lives you save by continuing the contract will outweigh the fatalities?

What are the facts in the case?

The facts presented include the death of an infant as a result of a faulty pacemaker, and another individual that while yawning, caused the pacemaker wire in his chest to become disconnected, thereby resulting in his death. As a public corporation, the company that makes the transistors has a responsibility to act on behalf of their shareholders and to protect their investments. If they were to face litigation resulting from faulty transmitters and casualties thereof, their stock price would be threatened, as would the shareholder’s investment, not to mention the corporation as a whole. While the argument from the pacemaker company regarding their business and the lives of those who need pacemakers has relevance, the company must first consider their liability and responsibility to serve in the best interests of their shareholders.

Identify and evaluate alternative actions from the various moral perspectives applying the questions suggested in the article A Framework For Ethical Decision Making.

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Which option will produce the most good and do the least harm?

The best option would be to suggest additional testing and perhaps get involved in the testing themselves. This option would serve a dual purpose � (1) Allow greater confidence in the specs used by the pacemaker company, () Provide them with the opportunity to study their product for improvement. Clearly, because their company is involved in the electronic industry, they are in a unique position to save lives of many people through their contribution to the pacemaker. Long term, using a utilitarian approach, the advantages outweigh the risks. “Utilitarianism is a moral principle that holds that the morally right course of action in any situation is the one that produces the greatest balance of benefits over harms for everyone affected. So long as a course of action produces maximum benefits for everyone, utilitarianism does not care whether the benefits are produced by lies, manipulation, or coercion.”

Which option respects the rights and dignity of all stakeholders? Even if not everyone gets all they want, will everyone still be treated fairly?

“If an individual has a moral right, then it is morally wrong to interfere with that right even if large numbers of people would benefit from such interference”. In this case, suspending the contract until further testing is done and proven effective, would serve to respect the rights and dignity of all stakeholders � both within their own company and within the pacemaker company. While the pacemaker company may not be happy, they are not without a supplier � provided that the testing has concluded good sound results.

· Which option would promote the common good and help all participate more fully in the goods we share as a society, as a community, as a company, as a family?

Clearly, the best option for promoting the common good among all participants is to work together to define the causes of the failed pacemakers and perhaps devise a better plan of construction. It may mean that the transistor company hire additional personnel to assist with this project, thus reducing their profit, or it could mean that they reduce their cost to the pacemaker company to allow them more funding for testing.

· Which option would enable the deepening or development of those virtues or character traits that we value as individuals? as a profession? as a society?

“Virtues are attitudes, dispositions, or character traits that enable us to be and to act in ways that develop this potential. They enable us to pursue the ideals we have adopted. Honesty, courage, compassion, generosity, fidelity, integrity, fairness, self-control, and prudence are all examples of virtues.” The best option to maintain this definition of virtue as an individual, profession and a society would again fall within the combined effort of both parties participating in a cause to ultimately better the conditions of those in need of a pacemaker.

· Using one of the theoretical approaches from A Framework for Ethical Decision Making or your textbook explain what you would do in this case. (1 Page)

First of all, because this company is in a unique position to save lives and considering that they could also face serious litigation from the failure of faulty products, I would recommend that they suspend their contract with the pacemaker company until further testing can be accomplished and proven effective. In addition, I recommend that both companies work together during this suspension period, in an effort to further investigate the root of the faulty problems. The biggest problem in this issue is that the pacemaker-company is making medical errors while they are pretending like their technology is complete. I believe that the company should admit the risks of using pacemakers, and if only the patients are willing to use them regardless of the risks, they could sell them to them. Under such conditions, no lawsuits will take place because both the patients and the company are under the same agreement. And realistically speaking, if it were the only chance left to survive, most patients would most likely be willing to take the risk if they are going to die anyway.

As mentioned already, the transistor company has a responsibility to its shareholders. In addition, they have a responsibility to the market where the pacemakers are sold. It is important not to rush into an area that is still new without testing the waters first. Therefore, my recommendation to suspend until the necessary developments have been established, thus ensuring that the transmitters and pacemakers are each safe, is imperative. It is important to note that technology is continuously changing, as will the pacemakers and transmitters.

Finally, when considering the future of their own company, they must recognize that the liability does not end with the pacemaker company. Liability is a concern for all, and no company is without blame or responsibility when the proof can be traced back to their doorstep.

In an industry that allows for continuously changing advancements, it is essential for a business to consider all of the factors when making an ethical decision such as this one. A decision to remain could result in several things ranging from lawsuits, diminished stock prices, and company failure.


MacDonald, C. (00), A Guide to Moral Decision Making, Retrieved July 5, 00, from Website http//www.ethicsweb.ca/guide/

Lo, C., An Ethical Framework For Business Behaviour, Retrieved July 5, 00, from Website http//cae.hkbu.edu./html/charles.lo.html

(00), A Framework for Ethical Decision Making, Retrieved July 5, 00, from Website http//www.scu.edu/ethics/practicing/decision/framework.html

Shanks, T. (00), The Case of the Sole Remaining Supplier, Retrieved July 5, 00, from Website http//www.scu.edu/SCU/Centers/Ethics/dialogue/candc/cases/supplier.html

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