Philosophy is a broad sphere of life, which requires a detailed overview of every existing theory in order to see its traces in the modern world. Each situation can relate to one or another theory, which contributes to the essence of morality and ethics in each specific situation. In fact, there is a need to focus on the ethics of care, which plays a significant role in shaping the principles of morality and ethical behavior. The focus of the theory is to prove that each situation has moral aspects, and they should be considered from the point of view of fairness and justice. The current paper aims to discuss five case studies and consider them from the point of the ethics of care. In fact, the following passages reflect a brief description of the theory, overviews of each case, and evaluation, which leads to the chain of conclusion.
Ethics of care is a theory which emerged in the second half of the twentieth century. Feminists were the ones to develop a theory that keeps looking for justice and helps answer the questions of what is right or wrong (Held, 2006). It is a normative ethical theory which has many differences with deontological and consequentialist ethical theories. Ethics of care does not focus on the universal standards; it concentrates on the response and its importance. In particular, it answers the question of the ethical problem in each specific situation. It seeks the truth in each case and reveals the points which are ethically unacceptable. Ethics of care not only helps see the problem from the ethical perspective but also teaches how to respond to a moral issue. The theory offers each follower to consult three beliefs in order to accept the world in terms of ethics and morality. Firstly, the theory considers that people are interdependent and the level of dependency varies. While other theories consider each man as an individual with an independent state of mind, ethics of care supports the idea that all people depend on one another. Secondly, the theory believes that each person has a different level of vulnerability to the choice of another person. In general, all people are vulnerable in terms of decisions regarding other individuals. Thirdly, there is a need to consider contextual details of each specific situation in order to promote the interests of everyone involved in the situation. All these beliefs create an appropriate basement of ethical and moral standards helping in the evaluation of the following cases.
The first case for the evaluation is titled Blood for Sale. The case focuses on the company which decided to sell blood. At the beginning of the case, the author mentions that the owner of the company decided to make blood a commodity. First, the company took blood from people addicted to drugs or alcohol. Then, it sold this blood, claiming that it was safe and clean for every patient. However, there were some cases when patients faced hepatitis after purchasing blood from the company. As a result, the latter started looking for cheap and safe sources of blood. The search was successful and led to the tribes in Africa, who were happy to become donors and receive fifteen cents per pint. However, the company sold the received blood for twenty-five dollars per pint. As a result, it became possible to receive nearly a quarter of a million dollars. From the perspective of the ethics of care, the case crosses several beliefs which aim to belong to the theoretical domain (Cusveller, 2014). First, it is necessary to mention that the company is not right making blood a commodity and creating a new segment on the market. It happens for the reason that it discourages volunteers from sharing blood when it becomes clear that it is a product which patients can purchase instead of receiving it for free. Commercialization of health care is not appropriate in terms of ethics of care. Although the theory claims that all individuals are interdependent, there is a need to point at the loss of interdependency as soon as blood becomes a widespread commodity. In addition, it is ethically unacceptable to purchase and sell blood since it is a volunteering activity which motivates people to support each other. In terms of the case, patients are potentially vulnerable to the choices of those willing to share blood (Leget, 2012). For example, if a donor decides not to share blood and sell it instead, a patient might not receive blood at all. It may happen due to the lack of financial resources. In this aspect, it is obvious that the decisions of each individual have their outcomes influencing the condition of another individual. Blood as a commodity does not promote the destruction of interdependence. It pushes people to increased interdependency and the need to support each other. In addition, choices to sell blood lead to the establishment of high dependency on those still willing to share blood without intention to receive money for it. The current case is the additional proof that market relations only intensify interdependency of individuals and their dependence on the outcomes of each other’s decisions.
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The second case titled The Parable of the Sadhu reflects the essence of corporate and individual ethics. The case is a reflection on both group and individual thinking, which brings specific outcomes and results. At the beginning of the case, the author mentions that he had a chance to have a trip to the Himalayas with his friend and other tourists, including men from Japan, New Zealand, and America. The whole case focuses on the situation faced by a group of tourists in the mountains. First, the case mentions that it is hard to survive in the mountains during long trips at height. Tourists along with the author of the case faced many problems during their trip, including health implications. While walking through the mountains, tourists found a pilgrim naked and half-alive. However, each member of the group managed to help him as soon as they discovered that he was alive. Clothes and food helped bring pilgrim to life. However, there were many doubts about whether to transport him to the village or not. From the perspective of the ethics of care, the situation reflected in the case has a direct connection to the dependence of people on each other’s decision (Vanlaere & Gastmans, 2011). Although it was possible to bring the pilgrim to the village, tourists were sure that he was capable of taking care of himself. However, there was no guarantee that the pilgrim would survive. Tourists decided that their mission in helping a random stranger by providing him with clothes and food was completed. The further destiny of the pilgrim depended on him alone. However, it means that the outcomes of the mutual decision were unknown. In fact, it was a cultural aspect which prevented tourists from finishing the rescue mission. In addition, a collective way of thinking prevailed individual thinking as it always would. Stephen, the author’s friend, tried to prove that it was their responsibility to lead the pilgrim to the village and make sure that he was in safety. However, everyone decided that he was capable of taking care of himself. In this case, a point of view of a single individual was not considered at all. In particular, tourists performed in terms of corporate thinking instead of thinking with their own heads and predicting the possible outcomes of their decisions. As a result, it is impossible to predict what happened to the pilgrim further; however, he was the one dependent on the tourists who found him. Unfortunately, the discussed case is a reflection of neglecting an individual’s point of view in the name of collective thinking.
The next case titled Nestle and Advertising: An Ethical Analysis focuses on the business sphere. However, from the perspective of philosophy and ethics of care, it is possible to see some aspects. First, it is necessary to see the essence of the case from the short description. In the beginning, the case mentions that the segment of advertising always faces ethical dilemmas and problems. However, in the case of Nestle, there are significant issues with morality and choices made by the company in order to promote its products. The case states that the company has already been an object of numerous boycotts related to the sale of baby formula. The problem is that water is not the best resource for health in terms of contemporary contamination. Nestle spreads its advertisements in the third world where countries are not developed enough to enjoy the benefits of using clean water. As a result, the baby formula contributed to millions of death caused by diarrhea and dehydration. In fact, the case is a reflection of ethical problems faced by society as a result of the irresponsible actions of Nestle. The following conclusions help see the truth in the case from the perspective of ethics of care. First, Nestle did not act ethically right offering mothers to refuse breastfeeding newborns. Nestle should be aware of the fact that the first six months are the most important period for newborns since it sets the immune system and helps resist the majority of diseases. In fact, the company tried to avoid its responsibility for the choices it made. For example, the company continued to spread its products and advertise them with the help of nurses. Mothers, in their turn, could not feed their children without the baby formula as soon as they got home. In particular, Nestle is most likely aware that mothers and their children thus become more susceptible to cancer. However, the company continues to claim that its products help children get healthy. In particular, it is not right that the company mentions only the positive consequences of feeding babies with its products. It means that the company prefers not to reveal all outcomes of the choices made by customers. It leads to the inappropriate application of the ethics of care which mistreats customers. As a result, customers become victims instead of the lucky ones to purchase the products offered by Nestle. It is sad to know that Nestle continues to perform according to the same principles even nowadays.
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The fourth case is titled More Questions and Alternative Scenarios for the Challenger Disaster. The case discusses the tragedy which happened to the Challenger shuttle because of O-rings that failed to seal the booster rocket joints. It happened because the engineers did not consider the negative influence of low temperatures, which resulted in the disaster. The case also mentions that one of the engineers insisted on the revision of the construction and its delay due to inappropriate conditions. However, everyone ignored this opinion and decided to launch the shuttle. A year before the launch, Roger Boisjoly, the one who tried to stop the launch, dedicated his research to low temperatures and the consequences related to seals in the rocket boosters. When Boisjoly and his colleagues tried to prevent the launch, he was dismissed from NASA since nobody listened to him. However, as soon as the disaster occurred, he was a leader of the investigating team. From the point of ethics of care, it is possible to note that the situation, which took place many years ago, has several issues. First, none of those present at the testing of Challenger thought about the possible outcomes. An overall belief in success is appropriate in achieving good results; however, it is always necessary to stay realistic and consider each possible consequence. The case showed that the lesson taught by the disaster was severe enough to motivate not to repeat the same mistake. In addition, it is another example of neglecting the point of view of a single individual. Collective thinking might be a dangerous weapon when it comes to the launch of a shuttle. The story is a lesson teaching that there is a need to consider the project’s influence on the surrounding world. Ethics of care is the most applicable ethical basement in this case from the perspective of philosophy (Calhoun, 2008). In particular, engineers of the project did not pay attention to the point of view of their colleague. Instead, NASA decided to minimize a threat to the project at the expense of the tragic consequences of the launch. The negative outcomes could be avoided; however, nobody paid attention to the warnings. Probably, in the future, NASA can be more attentive and careful in the design of shuttles and spaceships. Otherwise, ethics of care will have no effect on the experience of the engineers working in NASA.
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The fifth case has no title; it is related to the company named Enron. The case involves one of the most famous energy companies which managed to be at the top of its success and fail at the same time. The company turned bankrupt and was involved in numerous economic conflicts. The company was guilty of fraud and off-book partnerships, which were used to cover the company’s debts. It is illegal and unethical to use partnerships in order to inflate the stock price and contribute to the company’s financial development by means of other companies. The case is a reflection that many companies tend to use illegal and unethical behavior in the name of business development. From the perspective of the ethics of care, it is possible to make the following conclusion. The company neglected its responsibility for leading ethical and legal business. On the one hand, it struggled to survive at the expense of other companies investing their finances in the company’s performance. On the other hand, Enron continued to lie to its clients, partners, and investors by hiding its debts. The solution to the situation is not an appropriate example which shows that it is possible to handle economic unethical behavior without bearing negative consequences. In addition, it is another proof that every individual depends on the choices and further outcomes of another individual. It is impossible to exist in the world without interacting with other people. Egocentrism is not an appropriate accompanying element in business. It destroys responsibility and ethical side of leading economic relations. Moreover, the ethics of care consider that all individual should be aware of the consequences of their choices. The responsibility should cover the negative effects of choices. The case study reflected that nobody involved in the situation took care of avoiding the negative consequences of machinations. In simple words, nobody cared about the outcomes of the fraud. It is a violation of the principles of ethics of care. Philosophic approaches should also have their place in business development since they set norms, principles, and standards of the performance. Otherwise, it is impossible to operate within ethical norms proclaimed by society.
In conclusion, it is necessary to discuss the overall effect of the paper on the understanding of the ethics of care. The presented cases helped realize that philosophic point of view on morality and ethics can be applied in any sphere of life. It means that responsibility accompanies any human activity regardless of the area. The meaning of the theory is that it intends to motivate each individual to see the dependence on interaction. Interdependence is the key to evolution, which proves that people exist to support each other since each action has its outcomes. An egocentric existence has become a prerogative of the contemporary generation which tends to avoid responsibility for its actions. If the world struggled to reduce the number of unethical decisions, there would be a world full of compassion, support, and understanding. Every individual needs to see the depth of the ethics of care in order to look beyond personal decisions and choices leading to both negative and positive consequences in different settings. Otherwise, it will be impossible to implement changes in a society willing to reduce ethical dilemmas and amoral conduct of business.