DeShawn is the manager of Plastiparts

DeShawn is the manager of Plastiparts, a small plant that manufactures plastic parts for aircraft and boats. The plant employs several hundred workers and is located in the town of Richville, located in the US near the Mexican border. Poor air quality is a problem in Richville and plants in the town, including that of Plastiparts, emit sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere.


The plant DeShawn is managing has emission levels that are consistently above Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards. The EPA had contacted him about the problem and has said that fines would be levied. DeShawn’s bosses at headquarters will not invest in new smokestack scrubbers, because there is no money for them.


DeShawn is aware that he could stay within the EPA rules if he scheduled heavy emissions work at night so that during the day when the EPA take their measurements the plant would appear to be within standards (although total emissions would not be reduced).


Headquarters has informed DeShawn that unless he finds a way to avoid EPA fines, they would relocate the plant 50 miles south of Richville in Mexico in the town of Pauperstown. Pauperstown has relatively good air quality compared to Richville and there are no restrictions on emissions. Industry in Pauperstown is based around agriculture where workers toil long hours in fields for little income. DeShawn knows that allowing the plant to move would mean the loss of his job and those of the hundreds of workers employed in the plant.


1. Identify the main ethical issue(s) in this case.

2. List the main stakeholders and describe how they would each be affected by DeShawn’s decision.

3. Is there a market failure associated with this business situation? What decision promotes efficiency?

4. What decision should DeShawn make if he were a utilitarian?

5. What decision should DeShawn make based on Kant’s Categorical Imperative?

6.Suppose now that DeShawn goes ahead and schedules the heavy emissions work at night. You are a colleague of DeShawn and you learn what is happening. According to the following moral philosophies, should you inform the EPA and be a ‘whistleblower’?


(i) Moral relativism (3 marks)



(ii) Egoism (3 marks)


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