The link between Utilitarianism Theory and the James Hardie Industries – ‘asbestos’ case has helped me to develop a deeper understanding of the difficult ethical questions asked in business and how corporations respond to those questions using moral philosophies. From the time when the short summary written in regards to the meaning and importance of the term ’responsible business’ in week 2, till today, I have explored various historical, moral, governance and economic aspects of business both domestically and internationally, proliferating my knowledge in regards to responsible commerce. I have come to understand the moral landscape or commercial enterprises which have ...view middle of the document...
James Hardie became aware of asbestos-related health problems among its employees as early as the 1960s. In 1978 the company began labelling products with warning stickers, informing handlers that dust from the products may cause cancer. In the 1980s James Hardie began making compensation payments to some workers, then in 1987 it ceased all production of asbestos products.
The battles for compensation here have been long and painful with the company to this day fighting to minimise liability. Part of the challenge in trying to establish the case for compensation in relation to asbestos-related disease has been the impenetrable nature of the company structure of James Hardie Industries, making it difficult to uncover a clear line of responsibility.
The summary written up in week 2 illustrated my limited knowledge and understanding of this topic. I began with a simple definition of the two words ‘responsible’ and ‘commerce’. Honestly, my acknowledgment of this topic was very limited to only the definitions provided at that point in time.
The Macquarie Dictionary defines the word ‘responsible’ as, which is to have an obligation to do something as part of a job or rule. My journey then leads me to define the word ‘commerce’, as the activity embracing all forms of purchase and sale of goods and services.
Utilising the definitions provided, at the time I have come to understand responsible commerce as that all business agendas of individuals including corporations have the obligation to meet the business related needs of shareholders, suppliers, customers, employee, the environment and local community groups all during the activity of purchasing and selling of goods and services. You see the responsible aspect of commerce in the economical market and my initial understandings lead me to this conclusion: social responsible commerce is a fundamental ingredient of a successful economical market especially since it has respect for basic human values; honesty, trust, and fairness. These values must become an integral part of business culture and practice for markets to remain free and to work efficiently. Responsible commerce work towards the growth and success of both companies and economies internationally.
Initially I didn’t notice that my initial interpretations of this subject as outlined in the written summary, was in fact describing one of the many principles of the Utilitarianism Theory. Utilitarianism is usually described as a consequentialist, and normative theory. John Stuart Mill was amongst the first to state a theory of such, “actions are right to the degree that they tend to promote the greatest good for the greater number” as stated on the philosophical investigations web page. Today, this statement is further defined and described as according to Fieser, “correct moral conduct is determined solely by a cost-benefit analysis of an action’s consequences”. The person that I am I solely believe in making decisions based on...