1. Tell me whether each of the following statements is descriptive or normative, and briefly explain your answer:
a. Genetic screening could reveal an individual's tolerance for or susceptibility to chemicals used in the workplace.
First of all, it is important to understand that normative statements explain about how things should be. Conversely, descriptive statements give an opinion about what an individual or persons think about a certain thing or phenomenon. In the case of this statement, it is a normative statement because it explains about how things in workplace should be. The statement advocates the idea that genetic screening should be used as a way of identifying the tolerance of people to industrial chemicals.
b. 'This is a very naive view'
This is a descriptive statement. This is because the word naïve is an adjective that is used to demonstrate the opinion of the individual involved. The naivety experienced by the viewer might not be shared by another person who is subjected to the same view.
c. Genetic testing is intrusive. So, the legislature has an obligation to pass laws that outlaw or at least restrict it.
This is a descriptive statement. The author of this statement presents his or her own opinion about genetic testing. As much as the writer of this statement might find genetic testing to be intrusive, other employees who are subjected to the same process might not find the same practice to be intrusive. The word intrusive is an adjective that is used to modify genetic testing as a noun.
2. In this case, identify:
a. The moral aspects that involve moral theories of the right (e.g., duty, principles, rights)
The provision of a clean working environment is the responsibility of employers. Employers who fall ill or are harmed by a given workplace have a right to file lawsuits against employers. Genetic testing by employers shows that employers have embraced the principle that they are morally responsible for the welfare of their employees. As much as some employees might find the process of genetic testing as being intrusive, the fact remains that employers are working towards protecting their potential employees from succumbing to harm at their job place. However, there is a moral dilemma that presents itself in this situation. The use of the health status of an individual as a basis of employment might be viewed by many people as being intrusive and discriminatory. Many people in countries such as the United States that have high regard for equality and meritocracy, might be of the view that genetic testing does not provide a level ground for all. However, prevention is better than companies increasing their cost of production as they seek to clean the working environment; with the aim of the indiscriminate recruitment of employees despite their health status. Businesses are out to make profits; the improvement of working environment does not maximize the profit margins for corporations. Instead, it increases the production costs of companies. Therefore, genetic testing is a moral practice both in terms of social responsibility and duty that the corporate has with regards to its employees.
b. The moral aspects that have to do with outcomes (utilitarianism)
Genetic testing should be viewed both in the perspective of employees and employers. The process of genetic testing is moral right if it is useful and beneficial to both employers and employees. First of all, based on the outcomes of the process of genetic testing, the process is beneficial to both parties. Persons seeking employment are protected from potential harm that might befall them in the work place if they are not tested about the vulnerability of their genetic compositions to industrial chemicals. Despite the fact that genetically unfit people do not gain employment in chemical prone areas in industries, genetic testing protects them from being subjected to harm. This is a moral obligation that employers practicing genetic testing and screening have devoted themselves towards. Considering that the corporate market is in some cases purely motivated by profit, employers can opt not to screen employees and in the long run some employees will end up being harmed. Therefore, employees stand to gain and benefit from the process of genetic testing. Employers on the other hand also benefit by making sure that they are able to hire genetically fit employees that are tolerant to some harmful chemicals that are present in the industrial environment. Healthy workers in most cases are more productive compared to unfit employees who might not have the ability to remain motivated in the working environment.
c. The moral aspects that have to do with fairness or justice (Rawls).
Bearing in mind that genetic screening benefits both the employers and the employees that are hired. Then the process can be regarded as being a just process. However, persons who are not hired to work in certain areas of industrials due to the health hazards involved might find this process as being unfair. However, employers have the moral responsibility and duty to describe to the employees the problems that would befall genetically unfit individuals if they were exposed to chemicals. By proper explanation of sensitizing members of the public regarding the process of genetic screening, the process will be more acceptable, more fair, and just for all parties that are interested in the functionality of industries (Chadwick, 1999).
3. What specific moral obligations do you suggest DuPont needs to assume in this case? Justify your reasoning, drawing on key concepts of ethics and values.
Du Point has the moral responsibility of transparently explaining to members of the public the benefits of genetic screening. Du Point should explain to members of the public the high cost involved in the cleaning of the work environment. Considering that the company is out to make profit, the company should explain the risks that would befall genetically unfit individuals if they were exposed to dangerous chemicals in the industrial environment. In addition genetic testing seems not to be popular among many people who are interested in working for Du Point (Jennings, 1999). Du Point has the moral obligation of explaining to members of the public the long term goals in coming up with a screening process that is acceptable, fair, and just for both genetically fit and unfit individuals.
4. Finally, comment on the suggestion that context matters in all ethical decision making, including your ethical decision-making process in this case. What specific context, for example, may be important in this case? Is the acknowledgement that 'context matters' equivalent to a belief in ethical relativism?
The statement, that context matters in all ethical decision makings, is applicable in this case. The specific context in this case for example is the fact that a company like Du Point has an option of cleaning its working environment so as to do away with genetic screening. However, the company as a rational actor looks at the cost of cleaning the working environment. Through a cost benefit analysis, genetic testing is more economic and more sustainable compared to process of making the company free from chemicals. It is important to note that there is no way a company can be able to eliminate chemicals in the industrial environment at a hundred percent (Beauchamp & Bowie, 2004). Therefore, instead of taking the risk of cleaning the environment and not succeeding it is reasonable for the company to conduct genetic testing because the company is sure about the outcome of genetic testing. In this case, the acknowledgement that indeed context matters is equitable to the idea of ethical relativism.
Beauchamp, T. L. and N. E. Bowie (2004) Ethical Theory and Business, 7th. Edition, Pearson, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.
Chadwick, R. F. (1999). The Ethics of Genetic Screening. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Jennings, M. (1999). Business ethics: case studies and selected readings (3rd ed.). Cincinnati: West Educational Publishers.