In 1968 Lee Iacocca and the Ford Motor Company wanted to produce a inexpensive vehicle to appeal to the first time buyers market. Mr. Iacocca philosophy was for consumers to remember Ford as the very first vehicle that they owned so that when it was time for them to invest in another vehicle it would be a Ford. But, in order for Ford to develop a inexpensive vehicle to fit the philosophy of Lee Iacocca, they had to cut corners.
Unfortunately, the one corner they cut was the placement of the fuel tank, causing catastrophic failure in rear end collisions resulting in loss of life, serious injury, or burned out vehicles. Daniel Boyce, author of The Ford Pinto Cade Information, cuts to the chase, “The Ford Pinto is known to be one of the most dangerous cars produced in automotive history due to several serious design flaws” (Boyce). This is a crucial statement that can affect the reputation of a company and have serious consequences financially.
If it was my ultimate decision to either engage in a recall or to settle the cases in which injury occurred I would have to choose the decision to recall. Not only would that decision be the correct ethical decision in my mind, it would be a decision, one that would have been very costly, that would have saved the reputation of Ford Motor Company and would have paid off with future sales. There are two different stakeholders in this situation. The first and most important in my opinion would be the consumer, those buying the Ford Pinto.
The second stakeholder would be the investors, stockholders, of Ford Motor Company. My decision to recall the Pinto, spending $11 per vehicle for a total of $121 million, would be to benefit the life of those that had purchased the vehicle. Those individuals that had put trust in the Ford Motor Company to develop a safe and reliable product have more value than that of a dollar figure. Though my decision to recall might not sit right with the investors of Ford Motor Company, in my opinion it is the moral and ethical decision that could pay off financially in the future.
Pay the $121 million now, fix the 11 million Pinot’s that are out on the streets, establish a reputation of doing what is right for the safety and well being of your consumers, and the sales of your future vehicles would drastically improve. To have a reputation that Ford cares more about the bottom line than the consumers that purchase their products, that human life has no value, can be detrimental to the future sales of Ford products. With my decision to recall obviously the immediate inancial impact of Ford Motor Company would be significant, $121 million to be exact. In my opinion, this initial investment of fixing the Pinto will bring bigger profits to Ford Motor Company in the future. Andrew Bouman wrote an article regarding the Ford Pinto and addressed future car sales, “When people are purchasing vehicles now days they still think back to the ford pinto and think that hopefully this same issue isn’t going to happen with this car. This has affected the sales of Ford vehicles” (Bouman, 2009)”.
Other car manufactures have had safety issues and the company chose to fix the problem, putting human life in front of the bottom line. This philosophy has been successful for other automobile manufactures, a philosophy Ford should have followed. Bouman goes on to say, “If ford would have thought about their future they definitely would have spent the money to fix each one of the vehicles and then their sales would be doing a lot better today and they would not have lost as much money” (Bouman, 2009).
The question Ford Motor Company had to deal with was; does the human life have a value? Their decision to place a $200,000 figure for each individual that was negatively affected by the Pinto tells me that Ford placed a dollar value on human life. Michael Zimmerman writes, “The intrinsic value of something is said to be the value that that thing has “in itself,” or “for its own sake,” or “as such,” or “in its own right” (Zimmerman, 2002). We are talking life; a value in itself, a value for its own sake, and a value in its own right.
Ford was talking value of life that would affect them, Ford motor Company, not the life of the consumer. The instrumental value is the value of the object, and in this situation the object is the human life. Ford Motor Company valued the human life at $200,000; this dollar figure was a life value that benefitted Ford Motor Company, not those that purchased Ford Motor Company products. But does human value have a monetary price associated with it? In my opinion no; there is no dollar figure that can be substituted for life.
But life does have a value, a purpose, a stake, but it is just not financially connected. I think that with human life the intrinsic and instrumental values are connected, not separated. The human life has value in itself, has value for the individual; but it also has a value as an object, it has a purpose and stake what happens within the future, it just doesn’t have a dollar figure attached to it. Stanley Riukas explains, in an article discussing intrinsic and instrumental value, inherent and instrumental values are inseparably connected, that they are strictly parallel as regards their quantity, quality and other characteristics, that they are reversible, and that their richness determines the richness of human life” (Riukas). The richness of human life places the instrumental value upon it. In conclusion, the decision I would have made in regards to the defective design of Ford Motor Company’s Pinto would have been drastically different than that of Lee Iacocca.
I would have placed the value of human life over the value of the company. In my opinion this decision would have financially benefited Ford Motor Company in the future. A reputation of doing what is best for the consumer rather than what is best for the company has a direct impact on the success of the company in the future, Making the initial investment of $121 million would have gone farther that having the reputation of putting life second and the thought of unreliable vehicles manufactured by Ford Motor Company in the minds of all consumers.
Andrew Bouman. (October 14, 2009). The Ford Pinto. In Ezine Articles. Retrieved July 7, 2013, from http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Ford-Pinto;id=3044629. Daniel Boyce. (n.d.). The Ford Pinto Case Information. In The Ford Pinto Case. Retrieved July 7, 2013, from http://fordpintoethics.webs.com/. Stanley Riukas. (n.d.). Inherent and Instrumental Values in Ethics. In The Paideia Project On-Line. Retrieved July 7, 2013, from http://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Valu/ValuRiuk.htm. Zimmerman, Michael J. (October 22, 2002). Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Value. In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2010 Edition). Retrieved July 7, 2013, from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/value-intrinsic-extrinsic/#WhaHasIntVal.
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