Ford Pinto: Is Cost-Benefit Analysis Allowed in Ethical Decision Making?

Ford Pinto: Is Cost-Benefit Analysis Allowed in Ethical Decision Making?

Abstract

The Ford Pinto case was a major scandal during the 1970s. In order to lower costs of production, Ford managers chose not to install a hull to the gas tank of the Pinto model that would have prevented leakages of fuel during crashes. The case is presented here as a study for critically discussing the role cost-benefit analysis plays in ethical decision making.

The development and increased awareness of business ethics started in the US during the 1970s, as a consequence of several corporate scandals. One of these was the case of the Ford Pinto, which continues to provide a number of important lessons about the ethical behavior of corporations.

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