In the case study, ‘Little Enough or Too Much’ Bryan, The
product development manager is not satisfied with his company’s policy of not
initiating to recycle the waste yet making claims of protecting the environment
from harmful materials. The company’s X Chemical’s plant on the East River is
releasing more waste than the company originally intended. Even though this is
done to ensure cost efficiencies and competitiveness, there is a reasonable
chance that this practice could be harming the environment.
Therefore, Bryan believes an action should be taken to
protect the environment against harmful pollutants and maltreatment. Having
already spoken to his supervisor, Bill Gates he knows that the option to alter
the current process is not of any concern to the company
The X Chemical has been selling well which means that the
company has been able to satisfy its customers by giving them a quality product
and its employees and other stockholders by giving them large bonuses and
profits. However, this
case brings light to very important moral issues. Does the company have the
obligation to protect the environment even if it means going beyond government
standards? Furthermore, is Bryan responsible or obligated to take actions and inform
others inside the company? Seeing how is efforts are going in vain as no one in
the company wants to make adjustment as they might hinder the their profits
which are currently thriving.
two possible alternatives, first he could gather information from the
engineering and chemical departments that were included in the initial making
of the chemical X and overlook the processing of it to provide evidence for his
concern, and he could also speak to the waste management department, if any, of
his company for further proof. The Second option for Bryan would be to become a
‘Whistleblower’ and report to people working outside the company about the
current situation that would bring unwanted attention to the company.
If we go
based on the ethical theory of Virtue ethics which emphasis decisions to be
made based on one’s own moral character, Bryan does indeed have an obligation
to inform others, which he does of the necessity of the issue to be resolved.
Virtue ethics teaches us that individuals should make decisions based on their
own characters and personal beliefs, “rather than relying on external laws and
customs of a person’s culture” (Gowdy, 2013).
It is certain that Bryan is explicitly uncomfortable with how the decisions
have been made regarding the waste management of chemical X and does not
believe they are right. The current business structure, mainly authorization of addition discarding of
waste, his company focusing on its profits also Greenwashing of the their
customers and the society as clearly the company is not living up to their
public promises, Bryan’s company culture seems to contradict his inner beliefs.
the virtue ethics, these factors should not influence his final decision as it
would be logical for him to pursue the issue. Moreover, this theory places
great emphasis on directing an individual’s attention away from popular beliefs
and focusing on one’s own opinion and thoughts (Gowdy, 2013)Under
virtue ethics, it is also said that individuals should ultimately make
decisions which reinforce key virtues such as courage, justice and honesty and
that through consistent practice, individuals are able to acquire good habits
of character. Therefore, Bryan should not doubt his own judgement just because
the others did not view the situation from his perspective and understand his
instinct which appears to be telling him that the company is making a huge mistake.
on this, in order to ensure that Bryan continues to make moral decisions
throughout the rest of his life and is able to truly live virtuously, he should
go with the first option and make an attempt to have the additional step
implemented into the production to reduce the amount of pollution and live up
to his company’s standards. This way Bryan’s characteristics of courage would
be highlighted, given that all the other employees and employers are interested
in only the short term benefits being presented to the: competitiveness and
money. These motives of greed highlight the bad characteristics of his peers,
which ultimately does not satisfy the virtue ethics theory. Hence, they would
fall under the category of bad habits, which Bryan has clearly avoided as even
though he sees the benefit of the Chemical X, unlike his co-workers, he does
not ignore the fact that excess pollution because of this product will cause
long-term problems for his company. Consequently, if the evidence from the chemical
and engineering department does prove that such chemical waste will have
extreme health effects, this will put the wildlife and the lives of public as a
whole, including the workers and Bryan in danger.
also view this theory from the utilitarian perspective. Under which, one may
argue that the current production process is causing an increase in profits,
therefore choosing to leave the current process as it is will benefit the
greatest number of people (Jon, 2007). However, these
profits are only short-term, ultimately their product will surpass the profit
stage and there is a possibility that the deceived consumers or an outsider may
find out the enormous amount of waste dumped by the company. Bryan has already identified that the
company’s public statement, that all the actions taken by them are done in
order to minimize harmful environmental effects has been proven false to due to
the production of chemical X.
While it is
believed that slowing down the production process in order to implement the
additional step will only draw unwanted attention and suspicion from the environmentalist
group, however, it would be worse if the environmentalist were to discover this
dishonesty later on. At least, if they were able to correct their mistake right
now, they would be able to stand by their statement.as the benefits of being
true to the company’s public policy outweighs the profits possible by following
the letter of the law under the utilitarian theory of ethics. According to this
Bryan will have to reproach Bill Gates and convince him that the ethical
solution needs to be made urgently. He will have to look up the evidences from
the chemical department to find out the damaging effect of their current
process to support his claim. Once approved and agreed upon, the company will
be able to minimize the harmful effects. He would also sustain his virtual
character and will also cause him to make morally correct decisions when faced
with difficulties in future.
Arthur, A. (1992). Little Enough or Too Much.
Retrieved from Teaching Notes:
Austine, C. (2017, July 16). Virtue Ethics:
Morality and Character. Retrieved from Thoughtco.com: https://www.thoughtco.com/virtue-ethics-morality-and-character-249866
Gowdy. (2013, October 15). Virtue Ethics.
Retrieved from Ethicsmorale.com:
Jon, P. (2007). Political philosophy A-Z.
Edinburg, UK: Edinburgh University Press. Retrieved from