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Volkswagen Ethical Essay

Essay by   •  September 23, 2018  •  Essay  •  1,707 Words (7 Pages)  •  65 Views

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Part 1

Rationality is the ability to exercise reason, according to facts. It is an adaptation of means to end and having a relationship between means in which some bear effectively on a given end. Universalizability is the idea that the prescription that we apply on certain grounds has non-personal grounds and ones we may accept whichever part we take and binding[1].

According to Kant, the principle of morality is a standard of rationality under the theory of Categorical Imperative (CI)
[2]. The key factor to the moral law is CI which highlights a universal application that binds everyone that is involved. CI is as an objective, rationally necessary and unconditional law that everyone must always follow despite any natural inclinations. We should always act in a way that we can will the maxim of our action to become a universal law of conduct in which all completely free rational agents would adopt.


CI also states that we should respect each person as an ultimate purpose to be served by the good will and never use them as an instrument to achieve a personal goal. This is based on the principle that we should treat people as an end, and never as a means only. Only the will can be the object of moral evaluation. It is rationally binding due to the fundamental rights and the duty that all humans, ought to respect and treat each human being as valued individuals.

An action can only be good if the principle behind it, otherwise known as maxim, is a duty to the moral law[3]. Kant believes that only when we act from duty, our actions have moral worth and that if an ethical theory is not universalized, it is not a duty. Deontological theories base morality on core foundational principle of obligations and that it is never permissible to commit a harmful act even if the ends is justifiable, even for good purposes.

Unlike Utilitarianism, which is based on a set of principles that ignores one’s rights. It bases the consequences of an action taken in accordance to morality. However, CI believes that the morality of all actions can be determined in accordance to the principle of duty.

Aristotle states that fulfilment is the ultimate purpose of human existence. As human flourishes, they have the capacity to choose rational ends and ends for their own sake. To be an ultimate end, that act must be self-sufficient and final, which is always desirable and never for the sake of something else
[4]. The golden mean focuses on the development of character and acquiring virtues and that we act according to inclination that aims at one’s ultimate good, deviation to either side of which is a vice.

Kantian-Aristotle believes that right actions are those actions that is grounded in practical reasons instead of being instigated by desires, and therefore are rationalised. The good of human person in virtue ethics aims at human realization through actions accordance to the golden mean and is somewhat central to CI of acting according to the maxims you can make universal law. The contemplation of human nature by acts aims at human flourishing gives values and meaning to objects, people, and our world by choosing ends. It is rationally universalised because they share an important view that the object of choice, and the bearer of moral value, otherwise known as a maxim or logos is an act done under certain circumstances as an end
[5].  The will of choosing principle of actions and ends is what makes one rationally universalised.

(623 Words)

Part 2

a)Explain whether the use of the “defeat device” is wrongful lying as opposed to being merely a technical performance feature.

The universal maxim, a duty of moral worth as stated in CI that we should always act in such a way that we can will the maxim of our action to be a universal law. Volkswagen promised to sell cars that would meet emission standards but knew that this was never the case as they promoted their self-interests. Volkswagen understood the maxim of their actions to produce car and the falsification of emission test would not be universally accepted.  
From a virtue ethics perspective, it would also describe a set of characteristics of a business to do its good. The cars that have been recalled failed to fulfil its function well and the virtue of integrity would require them to treat their customers fairly. Volkswagen failed to provide consumers with all the necessary information needed to make a rational purchase and purposely misled them into buying cars with a defeat device. Volkswagen was well-aware of the consequences of their actions and consciously promoted their self-interest, neglecting the well-being of humanity.
Actions should hold morally true in all circumstances
[6] which is a universal law according to Kant. Lying is morally wrong and it was clear that Volkswagen had every intention to deceive. Therefore, this maxim could not be something that would fulfil the universal law of conduct.

(223 Words)

b) What is the justification for the emissions requirements or standards imposed by the various regulatory agencies involved, and why would evasion of those requirement or standards be an ethical failure, whether or not there may be legal breaches?

By imposing emission requirements, it would ensure that there is a just community to provide equal right of protection, liberty, and wellbeing for the pursuit of human flourishing by all. This would ensure that consumers would have the capacity of reason and the will to choose good.  According to Kant’s Metaphysics of Moral, such emission standards can be justified if it helps to impose obligatory ends.  The duty of these regulatory agencies to impose emission standards is a duty towards humanity as an end and it would be justified if the requirement to comply with these standards is grounded on the requirement to respect humanity.

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