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Posted on May 6th, 2014, by

Step A. Test introduction

The question in the common good test is “Is the company manufacturing transistors doing its part to look out for the common good in this situation?” (Ethics Ops, 2012).

Step B. Test validity

The validity of the test is justified by the fact that all individuals and companies operate in the society and use the benefits of the common good; in order to promote and keep these social benefits going, individuals and companies need to contribute their own share into social well-being.

Step C. Application of the test

Step 1. Identification of the part of the common good involved

In this case, the system of the common good affected by the decision in the case is healthcare system. To a certain extent, this case also relates to educational and scientific spheres, but the main area of common good considered is healthcare.

Step 2. Explanation of the obligation to promote the common good

The company selling transistors uses the benefits of the common good: it is able to hire healthy and good-working employees due to social healthcare system. All employees and managers of this company personally deal with healthcare system, and also benefit from this system as a company. Therefore, the company’s obligation is to contribute to the healthcare system to the possible extent, and promote companies or activities which help the healthcare industry advance. The example with heart pacemakers perfectly fits this statement: this promising technology can be further developed or disappear depending on the supplier’s decision. Therefore, the supplier should do its best to help the technology survive and evolve.

Step 3. Analysis of proposed actions with regard to social obligations.

Three scenarios described in the previous test will also be tested according to the common good approach. The first scenario fits the company’s obligations, since the supplier will help the firm with new promising technology stay in business. However, this technology is risky, and the supplier should not put up with these risks, so the first solution is not absolutely ethical with regard to common good.

The second scenario is unethical in the context of the common good, because the healthcare industry will lose a perspective technology. The third scenario perfectly fits the concept of the common good, since the supplier will support the common good by helping to improve the technology and reduce the risks for the people. In this case, the company will not only support the technology leading to improved healthcare, but will also make own contribution into these improvements.

Step D. Drawing a conclusion.

Scenario three – the company continues selling the transistors, with additional requirements to the quality of transistors and to the quality of manufacturing and installation of heart pacemakers ”“ is the one which matches the ethical perception of the common good, and allows to company to make its contribution into overall well-being. Thus, this scenario should be selected as ethically optimal in the case of the sole remaining supplier.

4. Comparison of test results

In the case of the sole remaining supplier, three potential scenarios were considered: first scenario ”“ the company continues selling transistors as it did before, second scenario ”“ the company stop selling transistors, and third scenario – the company continues selling the transistors, but sets additional requirements: increases quality requirements for the transistors sold to heart pacemaker manufacturing company, requires extensive testing and higher quality of devices from this company, and requires them to train doctors prior to selling them the devices. Analysis of these scenarios was performed using two ethical tests ”“ utility test and the common good test. In both cases, best ethical decision was the third scenario, which, according to the comments of Thomas Shanks (Shanks, n.d.), was eventually realized by the company. The approach of the common good test can be considered more appropriate in this case, because utility test deals with the evaluated consequences of actions for particular stakeholders, but in the case with healthcare research it is difficult to forecast future consequences for all people with heart diseases. The scope of healthcare research and its future progress correctly fits into the scope of the common good approach, and this test is therefore more effective for solving this case.


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