Business firms have the moral obligation to ensure that they deliver quality and quantity goods to their customers. However, there have been several cases about the operation of firms, where firms sway from this moral duty by way of concentrating on maximizing profits rather than balancing between profits and moral responsibility (Guha, 2007). This paper explores the case of providing underweight products as a moral ethics issue in business.
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Under normal circumstances, most customers expect to gain maximum utility from the products that they acquire from the market. However, several businesses knowingly engage in acts that deny the customers the chance to attain maximum value for their money. An example is the case of the bakery company that for a long time baked breads that had lesser weight than the weight that was indicated on the packaging materials. It was apparent that this had taken place for quite a long period before a random quality and standardized test, which affirmed that most of the products that were released in the market by the company were underweight. Upon confrontation, the management of the company defended themselves by arguing that this was a manufacturing error. However, it was confirmed that the duration with which the company had produced underweight products denoted that this was a practice that had gained roots in the company.
Deontological implications of the case of underweight products
One of the things that inform the choice of products by the consumers is the utility that is derived from the consumption of such products. Firms operate in the larger society where they are expected to embrace the well being and sustainability of the society. One way through which this is achieved is by businesses ensuring that consumers get value for their money. It is the moral duty and responsibility of firms to ensure that all their processes result in quality products that satisfy the needs of customers. In as much as it may be argued that the customers were not directly affected by the production of quality products, this case denotes that the company had a motive of making huge profits at the expense of its customers (Guha, 2007).
According to deontological ethics, acting morally begins by acting from duty. This implies that the company had the moral duty to ensure that the production process is efficient to serve the needs and expectations of the customers (Guha, 2007). Customers have a right to demand quality services from businesses. However, in most cases, customers lack the platform from which to detect the quality and quantity service. Therefore, it is the moral responsibility of the business to act in goodwill as it serves the customers. Customers are key stakeholders and should be treated like persons and not a means to selfish ends (Bowie, n.d.).
Application of Kant’s categorical imperative to the case
Kant’s categorical imperative moral character of any action depends on the motive and the underlying principle for that motive and not the effects of the act. Kant reiterated on the absolutism of moral obligations. This is depicted by the rule of respect. This reiterates the need to value each individual for the well being of each person is a moral end. Also, there is the rule of universality that reiterates the need for people to embrace behaviors and actions that depict value for people at all times. Therefore, the underlying principle behind the production of underweight goods denotes a lack of morality. There was no truth and consideration of all people as the company chose to engage in an act that only benefited the company while depriving the customers of the value for their money (Carroll, 2009). According to Bowie (n.d.), any business that considers ethical practices often evaluates the moral level of the principle behind any action or decision.
Bowie, N. E. (n.d.). A Kantian approach to business ethics. Web.
Carroll, A. B. (2009). Business & society: Ethics & stakeholder management. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.
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Guha, D. (2007). Practical and professional ethics. New Delhi: Concept Publishers Co.