Ron is a new employee who works at an auto body shop and faces a dilemma while doing cosmetic repairs to a car. He sees an additional problem that could cause some potential harm, and his boss tells him to ignore it and merely work on the ordered repairs. As an employee Ron must obey the wishes of his boss, but at the same time it would be unacceptable for Ron to ignore the problem completely and not report it to the potential buyer of the car. One problem that Ron has is with his boss. Obviously, Ron would like to be a good employee and please his boss. He is stuck in a huge ethical dilemma.
If he fixes the potential leak, he would be directly disobeying his boss. Employee disobedience could quite possibly lead to a loss of trust that has been placed in him. And trust is an essential component to any relationship. Another likely problem with disobeying his boss would be the loss of his job. Ron may lose the means of supporting his family. Some may believe this would be a worthy risk to take for the sake of the potential buyer. However, Ron does have an obligation to follow the orders of his boss. When he does follow the given directions of his boss Ron will maintain the trust of his boss.
He will also be assured no dilemma with losing his job the financial support for his family. And at the same time he can still take action to report the life-threatening car malfunction to the future owner of the car. Although Ron should obey his boss he must be sure that the person who buys the car knows about the repair work that needs to be done. Doing so would fulfill his moral obligation to the future car owner. Doing nothing to forewarn the customer would be dishonest. Dishonesty is not merely telling a lie. In this case it would be dishonest because vital information would be kept from someone.
The potential buyer needs to have all the information about the car before he can make a wise purchase. If Ron decided to keep quiet about the known information, his immoral behavior could lead to more serious problems. If the customer leaves the auto body shop believing his car is in top running condition when in actuality it is not, not only will it have a problem, but left unnoticed, the repair job could cost significantly more than it would have originally. An even more unfortunate consequence of Ron s dishonesty could be bodily injury and/or the death of the car owner since the troubles are life threatening.
Ultimately it is his responsibility to do only the repairs that the boss has asked him to do. Then he must report the other problems and possible adverse effects to the buyer of the car with information on the cost and time of the repair. When thinking about this tough situation, I contemplated on what Peter Singer would have said and thought on this topic. He most assuredly faced similar ethical dilemmas in his life, whether in a similar situation, or helping somebody whom was I believe that he would have had the ideal response to this situation.
Singer seems to be the type of person, who was not only wise, but also knowledgeable and aware of the current events in the world (2). If presented this problem in his day, he would likely have told of a situation that he had that paralleled this one. He may have even told all the details, making it a long, interesting parable. If in the situation himself, he most certainly would not have just let the problem be, and let the owner of the car find out about it himself. From reading his writings, I have found that Peter Singer, although often times controversial and even hated, was an honest and upright individual.
He would have approached this situation with a much broader perspective. He would have thought of the repurcutions ahead of time and realized what would have happened in the situation had he chosen any of the possible alternatives. The following quote illustrates this. We must begin to design our culture so that it encourages broader concerns without frustrating important and relatively permanent human desires (1) Singer may have even done some quick research in his head, thinking to himself, I have seen this before, and I believe that it worked out best by doing this.
Ultimately, I think that he would have solved the problem by 1) Obeying his boss, and only doing the prescribed repair 2) Taking notice of the potential problem, and any solutions to them 3) Writing up an invoice with the original repair on it, and the potential problem along with the estimated cost, and time of repair. By so doing, he would have let the customer know that they are cared for and the auto body shop is not only there to make a buck, but that they are a reputable company that cares about its clients.
In conclusion, I would like to end with the following. In almost every occupation in life, a person will be faced with a dilemma that really tests their moral position and values. If they will only decide ahead of time, I think that they could really save themselves time, heartache, and frustration. Situations like the one discussed above could be preventable. It is essential that all policies be written out for employees so that they know of their obligations as employees and to their customers. I believe that it is best to have as much as possible spelled out.
Not only do you protect yourself, as was the case mentioned, but also, there is no confusion for the customer, and the employee. So, as we have seen, there are several choices that Ron could make in his situation. I think his situation is easily fixable if he knows his moral obligations to everyone involved. It can be quite a messy situation when the morals of a person are apt to swing this way and that. If a person already is strong in their convictions, when they are faced with any controversial situation, they will be able to make the right choice when given the opportunity.