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Business Ethics: Who Is Responsible for the Food Waste?

Autor:   •  March 21, 2018  •  2,545 Words (11 Pages)  •  266 Views

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The advantages of virtue ethics is that it emphasises on pleasure and emotion, which is good that one should enjoy acting virtuously. The virtue ethics also provide opportunity to learn and improve one’s moral life. It encourage an individual to be virtuous so that he/she doesn’t have to rely on ethical theories to make decisions. It stresses character of an individual, a person who does not waste food out of consideration does seem morally superior to one who does it out of duty. However there are some weaknesses to virtue ethics.

Virtue ethics weaknesses include incompleteness as a virtuous character can only take us so far when dealing with an ethical situation, some situations include the limit of rules. Other weakness is conflict of interest, in order to achieve happiness through a virtuous life our interests will often conflict therefore deterring from what Aristotle believes is a virtuous person. Also it is not clear if virtue ethics offers any solution to specific dilemmas. Not everyone has equal opportunity to develop morally and being virtuous doesn’t mean that the individual is happy.

On the other hand are supermarkets who are also responsible for food waste. The first way we will try to decide if supermarket are responsible for food waste is relativism. Relativism is defined as a theory that maintains what is morally right or wrong by the circumstances, personal views or culture. In terms of food waste relativism would suggest it is the supermarkets responsibility as all supermarket’s have an ethical statement regarding the reduction of food waste on their websites, in order for them to stay competitive. However relativism states all ethical views are valid and therefore in order for supermarket to stay profitable they have to throw away food due to cosmetic standards or are out of date products and all of the supermarkets do it and we could then conclude it is not the responsibility of the supermarket.

The advantage of relativism is that it allows different use of culture and practices and because there is no personal judgement every individual respects one another culture and no one forces one another to follow certain personal standards. As the technology, culture and knowledge changes, it also allows people to adapt ethically. It provides better opportunities for learning.

However, relativism is rejected by some for various reasons because moral practices of society differ the fundamental principles of these practices do not. Every belief is relative and there is no possibility of moral actions and therefore everything must be tolerated. Just because some group believe food waste is wrong, does not make it so. There is no concept of what is good or bad. A person might believe food waste is no harm to anyone whereas the other might have different opinion and relativism will not allow anyone to judge an action as bad. The other disadvantage is that no one is perfect. The idea of relativism is based on that people will choose what is right all the time but this doesn’t happen all the time. Many people know food waste is bad but they do it anyways, they do what they feel is right.

The other reason why supermarkets have responsibility is Egoism. Egoism is a teleological theory. Teleological theories determine what is good by outcomes. An action is considered good because it leads to good results. Egoism which is defined as theory that believes we should all seek to act in our own best interests. An individual has only limited insight into the consequences of their action, the only suitable strategy to achieve a good life is to pursue their own interests. An egoism based on interests therefore approaches the idea of objective value, that one way of acting is objectively better or more ethical than another which leads to the notion of ‘enlightened egoism’ (Crane and Matten, 2010). Suggesting supermarkets do not have responsibility for food waste. It would solely depends if reducing food waste is in an individual’s best interest. For example if reducing food waste would ensure an increased profit for the organisation then it would be the responsibility of the supermarket. However if it wouldn’t then it is not their responsibility. However, many people object this theory as acting on self-interest are pejoratively selfish or self-centered (Regis, 1980). But this might not be true always as egoists are not against others, they are for themselves and if doing well for others work for them then that’s what they’ll do. The supermarket has made food available in very cheap price and are also available in bulk, this has made many people happy. Due to such organisational behaviour, supermarkets are successful. They are getting what they want; money, larger customer base and everyone loves buying food in low price. In short, supermarkets are creating happiness for themselves by helping others to be happy. Adam Smith argued that it doesn’t matter if someone actually cares for the well-being of others that is because there exist an invisible hand in the workplace. According to Smith individual intends just his own particular increase, however is driven by an invisible hand to advance an end which was no part of the first expectation. By seeking after his own particular interest, he promotes that of the general public, and does as such more successfully than when he specifically expects to promote it. However, the supermarkets are not realising that due to their promotional activities, food is being wasted as people end up buying more than they need and which ends up in the bin.

There are various drawbacks to egoism. People do not always act in their own best interest and if they do it may not best serve society resulting in injustices. Therefore, not everyone is comfortable with the idea of putting oneself first. Another disadvantage would be that one’s action will be derived from their own interest, even though there will be care for others at some point but caring for others will not be the initial intention. The other drawbacks could be that it may destroy relationship. If a person is with someone only because of their needs or puts themselves first and the other person second, then such relations may not be long lasting.

Also, supermarkets hold responsible for food waste is Milton Friedman’s argument that corporations should only act in the interest of their shareholders and therefore should not hold any responsibility for food waste. Milton Friedman’s critics suggest his argument is flawed as its not realistic or ethical to allow for an unrestricted pursuit of profit, even Milton Friedman acknowledges businesses have limitations in the forms of laws and regulations.

In conclusion different theories were argued to see who is responsible for food waste. Consumers and supermarkets they


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