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The Ethics Case Study
You woke up this morning and, on checking your e-mail find a message from your friend, Nathan. Nathan works full time at an organic fruit and vegetable store in Toowong. The store is owned by Samantha. The e-mail reads:
Subject: Help – I need your advice!!
I was hoping you could give me a bit of advice. I know you are studying Ethics at QUT at the moment and I'm in a bit of a bind.
You know how I work at the local fruit and veg shop in Toowong – well, a few days ago I saw one of the other workers, Beth, putting some fruit in her bag without paying for it or telling the owner, Samantha.
The next day I confronted Beth about it and she told me how she is a single mother raising her six year old daughter, Jinx. Apparently the father doesn't make regular child support payments – and so Beth doesn't have enough money to pay the bills and put food on the table.
Beth is begging me not to tell Samantha – and I am sure she really is only taking the stuff home so that Jinx has enough to eat. But to make things worse, Samantha knows stock is going missing. She's asked me to keep a closer eye on customers because she thinks customers must be stealing from her.
I'm in a real bind because Samantha has sunk her life savings into the store and things are really tough for her in business. She's struggling to keep the store going and yesterday started talking about having to raise prices to cover the losses in food and cash.
I managed to go on to the QUT website and see that you cover some different ethical frameworks – Utilitarianism, Kant's ethics and Virtue Ethics. Would you be able to analyse my dilemma using these three theories – and then let me know whether you think I should tell Samantha that Beth is taking fruit and veg home?
Thanks very much – and I look forward to reading your analysis and conclusion,
Instructions: Answer both Questions 1 and 2
Question 1 assesses SE5.1 Social, Ethical and Global Understanding: Demonstrate and apply knowledge of ethical and legal principles and practices in analysing and responding to business issues
Question 2 assesses PC3.1 Professional Communication: Use information literacy skills, and communicate effectively and professionally in written forms and using media appropriate for diverse purposes and contexts
Question 1 [SE5.1] (13 marks)
Provide a written response to Nathan advising Nathan as to whether he should inform Samantha about Beth taking goods from the store or not. In your written response you should:
- Analyse his dilemma with the ethical theories of utilitarianism, Kant's ethics and virtue ethics covered in BSB111 and
- For each theory, draw a conclusion as to whether it would be ethical for Nathan to inform Samantha about Beth taking the goods from the store.
To: Nathan@gggmail.com <mailto:Nathan@gggmail.com>
From: email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Reply to solve your ethical dilemma
After analyzing your current situation I might look at the case with regard to three theories to help you with the correct ethical behavior. There are two courses of action, which I can be recommended:
Action plan 1: Remain silent; do not react
Utilitarianism focuses on 'its approach to getting the maximum happiness of all the people involved. What matters the most is the summed happy or sad feelings.' (Lee Eugene, 2000). In this case, if action 1 is taken, Beth continues the job, her daughter gets food to eat and you (Nathan) would also not feel guilty of making a 6-year-old starve.
On the other hand, if I pass on the complaint to Samantha, she might be happy to know that the reasons for the losses were not customers but her in-house employees. This might help me relieve from the guilt of cheating my boss. But Beth would be fired, and her daughter would starve…………..