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Utilitarianism – Consequentialist Analysis

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QUESTION 1; Utilitarianism – Consequentialist Analysis (effect on four stakeholders) Cocoa Bean Farmers – Should the chocolate manufacturers decide to refrain from using the cocoa beans harvested by enslaved children, the farmers would immediately lose significant portions of their revenue. The farmers however would also be forced to stop using enslaved children and would instead have to hire a legitimate staff, which would increase costs. In perpetuity, this may cause the farms to go out of business. Enslaved Children – The enslaved children would benefit from the chocolate manufacturers not purchasing their cocoa beans from the farms on the Ivory Coast, as either the farmers would realise that their unethical (and illegal) actions have a negative impact on their profitability, or they would go out of business by being ignorant of the fact. This in turn would cause a significant reduction in child slavery within these farms, hence preventing further child abuse, starvation and death. In contrast, continuing to use these cocoa beans would not have any effect on the farmers’ enslaving of young children; i.e. they wouldn’t stop slavery. Chocolate Manufacturers – The effect on the manufacturers of them not using cocoa beans harvested by enslaved children is varied.

Firstly, there is a higher cost incurred by manufacturers should they decide to purchase beans from other, more ethical, cocoa bean farmers, as they would have a legitimate paid workforce. However one must also consider the fact that the public’s perception of their operations would become more positive, hence possibly providing higher sustainable revenues in the future. Moreover, the company would also have the long-term admiration and trust of the targeted consumer base. Consumers – The effect of not using cocoa beans harvested by enslaved children links on from the effect on the chocolate manufacturers. In essence, the higher costs incurred by the farmers of using a legitimate workforce passes on to the manufacturers which then passes on to the end-consumers. It should be acknowledged however that in not consuming chocolate harvested originally by enslaved children, the consumers may pay a higher price but are in turn using products that are both ethically viable and morally sound. When taking into account the potential harms and benefits of using cocoa beans harvested by enslaved children, one can quite clearly see a more ethical answer.

This is of course the avoidance of the use of these chocolate beans. In order to justify this answer however, it is essential to weigh the benefits and harms discussed above against each other to assess the “balance of happiness over unhappiness for all concerned”. It can easily be seen that in this situation, the major harm of not using these cocoa beans is an increased monetary cost to three of the four stakeholders. From a consequentialist approach however, this cost is heavily outweighed by the numerous social and ethical benefits mentioned above. QUESTION 1; Kantian ethics

Kantian ethics dictate that one should act as if there were a moral set of laws; i.e. do what is morally right and avoid what is morally wrong. With this in mind, the obvious ethical choice would be to refrain from using cocoa beans harvested by enslaved children. However in order to gain greater depth, we can look at two of the categorical imperatives implied by Kant. Firstly, in terms of universal acceptability, the chocolate manufacturers should all refrain from using such beans as “Make use of cocoa beans harvested by enslaved children” is not universally acceptable. Secondly, using these cocoa beans harvested by enslaved children is not respectful of these children in any way, and is hence impermissible under this imperative.

QUESTION 1; Virtue ethics

One must also consider that such “an action would only be right if (and only if) it is what a virtuous agent would, characteristically, do in the circumstances” . In other words, consider a relevant virtue, and then whether or not the action under thought would be permissible given this virtue. Take justice for example – using cocoa beans harvested by enslaved children is clearly an unjust act (both towards the farmers and children in opposite ways), and as such, should be avoided as it is not what a virtuous person would do. QUESTION 2; Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development

In the proposed situation, I would buy the certified chocolate even though is it more expensive. In doing so, I would be in Stage 3 of Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development. This can be justified by arguing that I have a strong interpersonal relationship with my friend and care about him . In other words, this shows that I have good motives and intentions and as a result, my reasoning would be considered an act of “conventional morality” .

(i) As an effectively educated business law and ethics student, one could argue that chocolate manufacturers do not have a social responsibility to prevent slavery. In order to justify this belief, one can consider the concept of the let-the-government-do-it argument. In essence, what this argument suggests is that corporations have a natural and insatiable appetite for profitability – instead it should be regulated by a government-imposed system of laws and incentives . This in turn implies that what is profitable for corporations may not be useful for society and vice versa. This, is consequentially in support of the ‘narrow view’ of Corporate Social Responsibility.

(ii) In order to further demonstrate the adequacy of the let-the-government-do-it argument in this situation, let us look at a much more pertinent example in Australian society today. Consider the mining and gas companies operating in the country, through which Australia’s economy was able to thrive throughout the global financial crisis . As a result of their taking advantage of the many opportunities existing in Australia, pollution and carbon emissions have become a major concern for the government. However, the government has attempted to address this issue through the creation and implementation of a carbon tax system, whereby companies are taxed in proportion to how much carbon dioxide they emit . Of course, the politics of such a tax are complex, and as a consequence of this, many have viewed the tax as a way for the government to slow the economic growth of the mining industry by increasing costs . It is of course designed instead to encourage cleaner sources of renewable energy in order to ensure Australia’s environmental sustainability . It can hence be seen that the let-the-government-do-it argument can be appropriately applied to both the child slavery situation in the Ivory Coast as well as the carbon tax system in the Australian economy


Nestlé’s actions as described in the “Nestlé Action Plan on the Responsible Sourcing of Cocoa from Cote d’Ivoire 29th June 2012” are in my perspective taken through the political theories approach. This assertion can be
justified through the fact that within the political theories approach, CSR policies are based on the belief that “corporations are powerful organisations, and that with power comes responsibility” . More specifically, it pertains to the integrative social contract theory, which states that there is somewhat of an implicit social contract between society and the corporate world, which “implies some direct obligations of business towards society” . This can be directly linked to the Action Plan itself, where examples of relevant actions include creating “greater income opportunities or education opportunities for farmers, and making farms safer places to work” . These are only some of the mentioned actions that Nestlé is prepared to take in order to ensure responsible sourcing of cocoa from West Africa.

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