The right to a healthy environment: to live and work in an environment which is nonthreatening to the well-being of present and future generations

rights and responsibilities and how to act on them. 8. The right to a healthy environment: to live and work in an environment which is nonthreatening to the well-being of present and future generations.12

From an ethical perspective, corporations have certain responsibilities and duties toward their customers and consumers in society:

• The duty to inform consumers truthfully and fully of a product or service’s content, purpose, and use.

• The duty not to misrepresent or withhold information about a product or service that would hinder consumers’ free choice.

• The duty not to force or take undue advantage of consumer buying and product selection through fear or stress or by other means that constrain rational choice.

• The duty to take “due care” to prevent any foreseeable injuries or mishaps a product (in its design and production or in its use) may inflict on consumers.13

Although these responsibilities seem reasonable, there are several problems with the last responsibility, known as “due care” theory. First, there is no straightforward method for determining when “due care” has been given. What should a firm do to ensure the safety of its products? How far should it go? A utilitarian principle has been suggested, but problems arise when use of this method adds costs to products. Also, what health risks should be measured and how? How serious must an injury be? The second problem is that “due care” theory assumes that a manufacturer can know its products’ risks before injuries occur. Certainly, testing is done for most high-risk products; but for most products, use generally determines product defects. Who pays the costs for injuries resulting from product defects unknown beforehand by consumer and manufacturer? Should the manufacturer be the party that determines what is safe and unsafe for consumers? Or is this a form of paternalism? In a free market (or at least a mixed economy), who should determine what products will be used at what cost and risk?14

Related to the rights presented above, consumers also have in their implied social contract with corporations (discussed in Chapter 4) the following rights:

• The right to safety: to be protected from harmful commodities. • The right to free and rational choice: to be able to select between alternative products.

• The right to know: to have easy access to truthful information that can help in product selection.

• The right to be heard: to have available a party who will acknowledge and act on reliable complaints about injustices regarding products and business transactions.

• The right to be compensated: to have a means to receive compensation for harm done to a person because of faulty products or for damage done in the business transaction.15

Weiss, Joseph W.. <i>Business Ethics : A Stakeholder and Issues Management Approach</i>, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Incorporated, 2014. ProQuest Ebook Central, Created from apus on 2019-06-15 17:18:23.


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