Kant’s Non-Consequentialist Approach to Ethics,

The name of Comm101 is Principle of Responsible Commerce. Before I enrolled the Comm101, I have no idea about principle of responsible commerce. At the lecture on week two, teacher had the presentation about this subject what the responsible commerce is. Generally speaking, the corporation has the responsible for animal, thing or person and so on. In my own understanding, to a person, if one person wants to have success on the commerce, he has to do things what the following points that I summarize.

Firstly, take care about the customers by the customer’s side, and safeguard the legitimate interest of customers. Secondly, thanks for the products and support from company, and know about the satisfaction or not of products and after-sales service. Thirdly, you take more care of customers, then; customers would keep good relationship with you.

The service what you provide is better and more comprehensive; the customers would keep deep impression of you. Finally, if you want others to treat you nice, you have to treat others how you treat others. I think these four points are important for the person who wants to get success in commerce. And these four points are also important for the business world. In other wise, corporation has responsibility. In order to understand corporation’s responsibility, we should know what corporation is. “A corporation is created under the laws of a state as a separate legal entity that has privileges and liabilities that are distinct from those of its members” (wikipeidia 2001).

In my own view, the corporation is engaged in the production, circulation, services and other economic activities, use production and services satisfy the needs of society and as a for-profit economic organizations, implement its own decision, independent accounting, legally established.

Also, the corporation generally refers to for commercial purpose, and uses various factors of production (land, labor, capital and technology) to provide goods and services for market with the implementation of operating independently and self-financing, independent accounting of social and economic organization which has legal personality. Corporate responsibility could be understood as corporate social responsibility. “Corporate social responsibility is a form of corporate self-regulation integrated into a business model” ( wikepeidia 2001).

Corporate social responsibility is the attitude of companies towards social responsibility, and refers to the social responsibility of corporations facing, reflected it in many ways including paid and unpaid contributions to society. The existence of a corporation must not only to make money for the only goal. In addition to making money, corporations should also serve the society; create culture; to provide employment opportunities; provide high-quality products and services to consumers at the lowest price. These goals are the companies should have.

In week four, we had discussed the personal responsibility, social responsibility, ethical theories and Kant’s ethics. In the following part, I will have a brief description of the Kant’s ethics. Firstly, i want to introduce who is Kant. The full name of Kant is Immanuel Kant, he was born in 1724 in German, he was a great philosopher and he researched and wrote on philosophy and anthropology during the Enlightenment at the end of the 18th century ( Brinton C, 1967, P519).

The major work of Kant’s is non-consequentialist, it states ‘that It always remains a scandal of philosophy and universal human reason that the existence of things outside us … should have to be assumed merely on faith, and that if it occurs to anyone to doubt it, we should be unable to answer him with a satisfactory proof’. Secondly, i will brief what is Kant’s non-consequentialist theory.

“Kant’s theory is an important example of a purely non-consequentialist approach to ethics. Kant held that only when we act from duty does our action have moral worth”( Shaw, Barry, Sansbury, 2009, P92). Empirics think human’s knowledge of the world comes from human experience, and rationalist argues that human knowledge comes from the person’s own reason. And Kant is in a certain extent joint the two point of view. Kant believe that knowledge is the human sensory and rational through at the same time. Experience is necessary to produce knowledge, but is not the only factor.

Change the experience into knowledge, we need rational (Kant call it “category”), and the rational is the talent. Human through the category framework to get outside experience, you cannot perceive the world if you do not have category. Therefore category and experience are both the necessary conditions to get knowledge. But some human category can change to the factor to the concept of the world, Kant realized that the things is difference to what are people can see, people can never knowing what are the things true colors.

Moral theories can apart to two parts, one is consequenlialist and another one is non-consequenlialist. Consequenlialist theory means if the consequences are good that can prove the action is also right. On the other hand, if the consequences are bad that must be the action is wrong( Shaw, Barry, Sansbury, 2009, P76). The examples of consequenlialist theory are egoism and utilitarianism.

However, non-consequenliatist theory has a negative meaning to consequenlialist theory which is no matter the result is good or bad, if the act is wrong then the all things are wrong. And wen can talk about it through many aspects, such as good will, the categorical imperative, Kant in an organisational context,and other non-consequentialist. From the following part, i will main to discuss the good will and the categorical imperative.

Kant’s motivation by the “Good Will” to enact a duty differs from acting in accordance with duty. Such difference neglects motivation. For example, someone who saves the life of a woman from a murderous man so that he may rob her may be considered to act only in accordance with duty in regard to her deliverance from the murderer. He did not act out of the “Good Will” since his motivation was to rob her.

Therefore, to take both intent and motivation into account in order to do the right thing considers one to be acting morally or dutifully. This act is said to proceed from that universal “Good Will.” Kant states “Nothing in the world–indeed nothing even beyond the world–can possibly be conceived which could be called good without qualification except a good will”( Kant, 1964, P9).

Kant writes, “If now the action is good only as a means to something else, then the imperative is hypothetical; if it is conceived as good in itself and consequently as being necessarily the principle of a will which of itself conforms to reason, then it is categorical . . . .”( Kant, P31)

So he says that in order for an act to be categorically imperative, it must be thought to be good in itself and in conformity to reason. As a categorical imperative, it asks us whether or not we can “universalize” our actions, that is, whether it would be the case that others would act in accordance with the same rule in a similar circumstance. This is seen in Kant’s statement about the categorical imperative,”Act only on that maxim whereby thou canst at the same time will that it should become a universal law”( Kant, P31).

The point Kant makes in his presentation of the categorical imperative is that an act becomes imperative (or commanded) when it ought to be applied to everyone. This is to say that because a moral act is the right thing to do, it is universal and binding on the agent to follow through with the moral act. However, the act should not be done out of any condition .

Lastly, i will use a case to explain Kant’s non-consequenlialist. I found a case about Toyota recalls. Towards the end of 2009, and early 2010, there were three safety recalls that Toyota announced after several accidents in differing models of cars occurred resulting in fatalities (Bensinger et al., 2009). This resulted in large international media attention which led to the detriment of the Toyota Motor Corporation, linked organisations, individuals and society. The first safety issue was recognised after a design error caused a vehicle to unsuspectingly accelerate, killing a family of four in the United States (Bensinger et al., 2009).

This accident prompted an investigation by American authorities, which led them to conclude that there was an issue with acceleration in several Toyota models (Bensinger et al., 2009). The first recall occurred on the 2nd November 2009 which related to the placement of the drivers side floor mat (Miller, 2009). The floor mat caused the accelerator to become caught, and thus, made the vehicle extremely dangerous as it would be difficult to stop, and also resulted in unintended acceleration (DeMeter, 2009; AFP, 2009).

The second recall was announced on the 21st January 2010 after several more incidents and complaints to relevant government authorities (Toyota, 2010). This time, after further investigation into the matter of unintended acceleration, it was realised that there was a mechanical issue which resulted in the accelerator sticking (Toyota, 2010). In the mind of stakeholders, this would have brought about the idea that the first incident of unintended acceleration was improperly investigated.

The third problem was brought to attention on the 3rd of February 2010, when reports were received that some models did not brake properly, and thus several accidents had been caused (Toyota, 2010). Later on the 8th of February the third recall was announced, and the problem was revealed (Toyota, 2010): there had existed an issue with the anti-lock braking software which was causing the brakes to malfunction in several vehicles (Toyota, 2010).

By the 28th January 2010, Toyota had recalled approximately 5.2 million vehicles for the pedal entrapment/floor mat problem, and 2.3 million vehicles for the accelerator pedal problem (BBC News, 2010), with 1.7 million vehicles reportedly having both issues. The worldwide total number of cars recalled by Toyota stood at 9 million on the 29th of January 2010. Sales of recalled models were suspended for several weeks while dealers waited for replacement parts to repair the problems. The issue is believed to have caused 21 deaths in by January 2010, but following the 28th January, the number of victims and reported problems increased sharply following the recall announcements (USA news, 2010).

I want to talk about this case in two aspects, good will and categorical imperative. For good will, Toyota recalls their cars just because they worry about customers distrust them, and then afraid that will be cause the performance decline. Also, for the categorical imperative aspect, Toyota as the second biggest auto company in the world, they want to make the recall error as a general rule through their will. They let people feel recall is not the company problem and it is widespread.

Reference List:

BBC news 2010, accessed 04/10/2012, http://pressroom.toyota.com/pr/tms/toyota/toyotafiles-voluntary-safety-152979.aspx

Bensinger, K & Vartabedian, R, 2009, ‘New details in crash that prompted Toyota recall’, Los Angeles Times, 25th October, accessed 04/10/2012,http://articles.latimes.com/2009/oct/25/nation/na-toyota-crash25

Crane Brinton. ‘Enlightenment’. Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Vol. 2, p. 519. Macmillan, 1967. “Transcendental Arguments (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)”. accessed 04/10/2012, http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/transcendental-arguments/.

DeMeter, K.C, 2009, ‘Denial of Motor Vehicle Defect Petition’, USA Department of Transportation: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, accessed 04/10/2012

Kant, “Good Will,” ed. Serafini, p. 31, accessed 04/10/2012

Kant, Groundwork and the Metaphysics of Morals, ed. Herbert J. Paton, (New York: HarperCollins, 1964), p. 9, accessed 04/10/2012

Miller, I, 2009, ‘Unintended Acceleration: Toyota addresses the issues’, Toyota PressRoom, 6th November, accessed 04/10/2012, http://pressroom.toyota.com/pr/tms/ourpoint-of-view-post.aspx?id=2234

Shaw Willian H, Barry Vincent, Sansbury George, 2009,’ Moral Issues In Business’ p76,92 accessed 04/10/2012

Toyota Ltd 2010, Toyota recalls ‘up to 1.8m’ cars, accessed 04/10/2012 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8487984.stm

USA news 2010, accessed 04/10/2012, http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2010/0129/Toyotarecall-update-dealers-face-full-lots-anxious-customers

Wikipeidia 2001, accessed 04/10/2012, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_social_responsibility