Moral Intensity of Ford Pinto Case Magnitude of the Consequences From the perspective of senior managers who made the decision, the magnitude of consequences introducing the Ford Pinto to the market is small. To support this point of view, Ford vice President firstly cited several statistical evidences.
In 1975, only 12 of 848 deaths, which associated with passenger-car accidents in which fires also occurred, involved occupants of Pintos. And in 1976, the number of occupant fatalities in fire-associated passenger-car accidents in which Pintos were involved was 11 out of 942.According to these data, Pintos’ involvement rate in fire-associated fatality reports was only 1.
17 percent, which means if one hundred car accidents happened in one year only one of them might involve Pintos. And based on the calculation of societal cost components for fatalities, per fatality is two hundred thousand dollars which is a tiny number of costs for Ford to afford comparing to re-designing the tooling system and delay the instruction.What’s more, even though several people might be hurt by the introduction of Pinto, millions more consumers will benefit from the fuel effective and low cost products and thousands of workers in US will get jobs. Therefore, the magnitude of consequences to launch Pinto is small, and the total benefits are much more than the sum of the harms done to victims. Social Consensus The high class manager thought the degree of social agreement on their proposed act should be good. First, Ford Pinto is a fuel and cost effective vehicle, which saves lots of money of consumers in US.
Also the fast introduction help the brand capture the new market and protect Ford’s traditional status in US, as well as provide more works and contribute to the US GDP growth. Second, at that time most people believe that car accidents should be more ascribed to the driver and high way condition, so Ford can emphasis this and distract the social consensus from the vehicles. Third, Ford’s response to accidents could become a key role to orient public consensus to their act. These responses included position to Federal safety standard and excuses to fail to pass rear-impact test.According to Mr. Misch, Ford recommended an early adoption of a Federal fuel-integrity standard incorporating. What Ford did oppose was certain excessive testing requirements involving 20 or 30-mile-per-hour rear crashes into a massive which is viewed as imposing wastefully expensive costs.
Though early Pinto models did not pass rear-impact tests at 20 mph, some of them were used to learn the future requirement on rear-impact and tests in 1974 were through struck by a vehicle weighing more than 3900 pounds that the fuel tank was crushed by the impact forces that demolished the car.And in every model year the Pinto had been tested and met the Federal fuel-system-integrity standard. To sum up, Ford’s managers thought that since all Ford’s acts were following the standard, producing better products and provide more jobs for the society, the social consensus should of course agree that Ford’s act is nothing but good. Probability of Effect From the view of Ford’s top manager, the probability associated with Pintos’ fire fatality is relatively low, and the probability that launching Pintos would cause harm to the company will be even lower.
Each year in 1975 and 1976, only 11 to 12 accidents involves Pintos among 900 car accidents. In 1796, while Pintos accounted for about 2 percent of all cars in operation, their involvement rate in fire-associated fatality reports was only 1. 17 percent. Additionally, the probability of gaining a profit is high in contrast to loss according to cost-benefit analysis.
After weighing pros and cons, Ford launched Pinto anyhow. Temporal Immediacy Temporal immediacy refers to the length of time from making a decision to experiencing the consequence of the decision.As in Ford Pinto case, the Ford Company has tried to lobby against a key government safety standard for years which would have forced the company to change the Pinto’s fire prone gas tank. They did that in the hope of avoiding great temporal immediacy because they’ve already know Pinto’s safety problem. Postponement of the government’s regulation means that they could have longer time period to sell the risky model hence gain more profit.
Plus, they would have more time and a relieved environment to deal with accuse against them.As long as they didn’t violate the regulations, they could ascribe the accidents to drivers and the high way situation. Proximity The Ford managers were aware that the hasty launching of Pinto would generate much more accidents than launching it after a series of tests and compensating measures.
However, they held the view that the sale of risky Pinto was more profitable for them than just paused and fixed all safety problems. Therefore, they were inclined to put lucrativeness at the first place instead of social benefits.To justify their behaviors they took the advantage of regulation imperfection while lobbied against advanced regulation at the same time, insisting that “safety don’t sell”. Concentration of Effect In Ford Pinto case, the larger the amount of victims was, the less concentrated the effect was.
Based on this Ford would rather risk more people’s lives by reducing the concentration of effect. From what Ford did it could observed that they had realized the potential of being accused. However, they still rushed Pinto into production so as to scatter the effect because they were ready to defend themselves by blaming drivers and high ways.
Conclusion When confronted with the six factors of moral intensity, what Ford’s managers did was justifying themselves against factors that are adverse while making use of favorable sides. Clearly their behaviors were not ethical. If we were Ford managers back then, we would insisted that social value should surpass economic benefits no matter how much money we were about to lose. Pinto should be launched only when the risks had been fixed. Recall should be generated for the already sold faulty cars. Moreover, the company should advocate legislation perfection instead of lobby against them.