1200 words maximum
Read the following mini case and the imaginary student response to that case. Write an evaluation of the response, answering the question: How effectively does the response apply act utilitarianism to the mini case? You will need to identify items that are missing from the application of act utilitarianism as well as items that should not have been included and provide reasons for the items that you have identified.
Stephen is having trouble deciding what to do. He runs a grazing operation on the family farm with help from a day labourer, Ralph, who works on average three days a week for him. When Stephen doesn’t need Ralph on the farm, he works for some other farmers in the district. Sometimes the other farmers have no work to give Ralph and thus he is without payment for those days. Ralph has always enjoyed this flexibility; he has never wanted to be tied down as a permanent employee.
Stephen has in the past received government grants to fence off waters, put in tree lines and subdivide paddocks to improve the quality of water running into the river and the sustainability of the pasture. Undertaking this work has resulted in ½ of the farm now surviving droughts more effectively and producing more grass with fewer weeds. Stephen would like to continue this over the rest of the farm to improve sustainability and productivity, but due to government cutbacks, the funding is no longer available. Stephen does not want to get further into debt to fund the development as he had to take a significant loan to buy the farm from his father. He can afford to purchase the material for the development if he does not have to pay Ralph. Stephen’s father, who is retired and living on the farm, is happy to help build the fences for no pay. Stephen is worried about Ralph, a man in his fifties who has worked on and off the farm for over 20 years but who would not get any work on Stephen’s farm for at least six months.
Use act utilitarianism to develop an answer for Stephen. Ensure that you cover all the essential aspects of this act utilitarianism.
Mini Case Imaginary Student Response
The stakeholders in this case are:
The positive outcomes for Stephen if he goes ahead with the development are that he will have a farm that will better cope with drought. The negatives are that he will worry about Ralph.
The positive outcomes for Ralph are that he will have the opportunity to work for different farmers. The negatives are that he will not have as consistent a pay packet.
Stephen is obviously concerned to act with moral worth. If he decides to undertake the development, he is acting with moral worth because it will improve the ecological sustainability of the land. If he decides to keep Ralph on as an employee, he is acting with moral worth as he is trying to prioritise Ralph’s well-being.
Another aspect to consider is whether justice is being done. Ralph did not want to be a permanent employee; he wanted the flexibility to work when and where he wanted, as a result, it is fair for Stephen to not employ Ralph.
Use your knowledge of the various ethical theories studied in this subject to evaluate the imaginary student response above. Remember that the imaginary student should have only answered the question by applying act utilitarianism, they should not have used any other ethical theory in their response. Make sure that you clearly identify aspects of other ethical theories that have been used in the imaginary student response in error.
This task is designed to help you achieve the following learning outcomes:
should be able to:
outline ethical theories in western moral philosophy and apply them in inter and intra cultural organisational contexts;
critically reflect on the effects of climate change, ecology and the environment in a global business context
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