In the last five years, the infamous deepwater horizon oil spill has generated heated debate across the globe on the sustainability of oil mining activities of the BP Company and other competitors. The deepwater oil spillage begun in the region of Gulf of Mexico and has had one of the worst environmental disasters of the 21st century. At the beginning of the spillage, the BP Company was accused of a cover-up before pressure from stakeholders forced them to take full responsibility (Robertson & Krauss, 2010).
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The report by a joint committee investigating the spillage apportioned almost 90% of the liability to the negligence of the BP Company, especially in the usage of defective cement, inefficient safety systems, and unreasonable cost-cutting strategies. Despite having settled the fine of $2.5 billion, environmentalists are convincing that they have not done enough to avoid a similar environmental-based ethical dilemma (Robertson & Krauss, 2010). This concern has raised more questions than answers on the side of the sustainability stakeholders.
Solving the Dilemma
On the basis of the categorical imperative, there are two alternatives for solving the above environmental-based ethical dilemma. The first alternative would be creating laws that define the scope and requirements that companies must adhere to before getting approval to carry out deepwater oil mining. The second alternative would be to impose large fines to ensure that companies are responsible for their actions. The categorical imperative argument by Kant explores universalizability and reversibility (Kant, 2005).
In relation to the BP ethical dilemma, the first alternative is initiating laws that companies must adhere to before getting approval to carry out deepwater oil mining. This is necessary for integrating ethical auditing to guarantee sustainability. Through this approach, the federal government and other environmental bodies will have the power to carry out frequent sustainability audits in the activities of these companies before a similar disaster occurs in the future (Kant, 2005).
Under the second alternative, that is, imposing very high fines to ensure that companies are responsible for their actions, the stakeholders in the field of environmental sustainability will be in a position to instigate the process of general responsibility of the side of the BP Company. For instance, exorbitant fines will deter the BP Company from being careless with its projects and expected standards for managing its mining activities.
Strong and moderate basic moral principle approach
Proposed by Peter Singer, the strong and moderate basic moral principle dictates that the activities of mankind should deter the occurrence of unpleasant things unless that line of action would attract a comparable moral result (Sher, 2012). In relation to the BP ethical dilemma, it is the moral responsibility of the company to prevent oil spillage by sticking to the code of conduct as part of service to the good of humanity.
This means that the BP Company ought to have internalised the values of universality, impartiality, and respect for biodiversity as a responsibility (Sher, 2012). This responsibility should surpass the cost-cutting decisions or profit-making strategies to avoid overriding sustainability in the interest of private gains.
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I prefer the categorical imperative approach proposed by Kant because it revolves around utilitarianism and universality in the actions of mankind. Specifically, this approach proposes actions on the basis of respect for humanity to ensure that the fundamental principles of good and moderation are internalised in the course of action or decisions at corporate and individual levels.
Kant, I. (2005). Groundwork for the metaphysics of morals. New York: Braodview Press.
Robertson, C., & Krauss, C. (2010). Gulf spill is the largest of its kind, scientists say.
Sher, G. (2012). Ethics: Essential readings in moral theory. New York, NY: Routledge.