Graham (2000) notes that, “consequentialism theory states that every behavior should be taken to maximize happiness” (p.143).
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Hurthouse (2000) adds that ,“consequentialism refers to moral theories that hold that the consequences of a particular action form the basis for any valid moral judgment about that action or create a structure for judgment”(p.5).In other words, as long as the end product is good, the action is also termed as good.
Hurtson (2000) states that, “this theory operates under the principle of the end justifies the mean” (p.5). Graham (2004) also adds that, “a morally right action is one that produces a good outcome or consequence” (p.144).
How Consequentialistic Theory may be used by Eastern Producers
The Eastern textile industries manufacture many textile products.These textile products are then used domestically and others are exported. Wang & Zhang (2008) notes that, “the textile industries in the Eastern countries and specifically in China have raised a lot of disputes with the Western countries” (p.134). So as to justify its actions, China can make use of the consequentialism theory.
To start with, the textile industry in China has promoted the local economy and the GDP to a large extent. Chow (2007) notes that, “textile industry in China is a traditional pillar industry and a livelihood industry as it is an important source of China’s foreign exchange earning and capital accumulation” (p.323).
Wang & Zhang (2008) also note that, “China’s textile industry is believed to have set low prices for its products in major international markets, and thus improves the real income level of consumers who buy their commodities”(p.323).
The textile industries in China have also created employment for a good number of people. Chow (2007) notes that, “China industry has employed more than twenty million people and is of great benefit to more than a thousand cotton farmers” (p.323).
Brown et al. (2005) notes that, “the contribution of the textile industry to overall output and employment attracted considerable attention as many textile mills are state-owned enterprises with substantial workforces that directly contributes to the local economy” (p. 30).
Brown et al. (2005) also notes that, “China acts as both a significant exporter and importer of wool textile products with trade flows servicing different segments of the market” (p. 31).Thus, we can see that the textile industry in China gives yield to a positive outcome, hence its actions are justified according to the consequentialism theory.
Secondly, China’s textile industry produces clothes that are cheap and of good quality to its customers. Chow (2007) notes that, “the textile industries in China solve more than ten billion domestic residents dress issue” (p.323).
Brown et al (2005) also notes that, “the trade disputes between the United States of America and China can hardly stop the American consumers from buying textile products from China as they are of good quality” (p.324).
Thus, it is clear that China’s textile industry maximizes the happiness of its consumers by providing them with affordable and durable products, hence the consequentialism theory holds true.
Thirdly, the textile industries in China have led to China being recognized as the second largest economy. Chow (2007) notes that, “over the years, China’s economy has greatly grown and China has been recognized as the world’s dominant supplier in textile industries as well as the second largest economy globally” (p.310).
Brown et al. (2005) also notes that, “textile industry is in a constant state of flux in response to economic growth as demand patters and supply conditions change” (p.30).
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Moore (2002) also notes that, “the China textile industry has enjoyed much benefits under the Multi Fiber Agreement (MFA) and thus has the potential to perform better economically in an international environment “(p.182).
Yager (2005) also notes that, “China is expected to be the largest economy in the next decade” (p. 10). Brown et al. (20050 also notes that, “textile exports in China has increased and covers losses in sectors like agriculture and automobile manufacturing which do not fair well” (p.30).
From these arguments, it’s clear that the textile industries have empowered the country economically. As this is a positive outcome that is of great benefit to both the citizens and the country, then by consequentialism theory, China’s production of cheap textiles is justified.
Finally, the textile industry in China has led to a higher profit margin in the retail trade. Moore (2002) notes that, “China has lowered import duties which increases the competitiveness of Chinese finished goods” (p. 182).
Chow (2007) states that, “by the US transferring technology and manufacturing industries to China, a high cost of Chinese imports to the US consumers will go to US traders and distributors, so that the profits of selling Chinese products in the Us market will contribute to US GNP” (p. 323).
Brown et al. (2005) also notes that, “China produces high quality and low price goods” (p.323). As a result of this, retailers are able to buy these products and sell them at a higher price. Thus, the textile industry benefits the retailers to a great extent and this makes the textile industry in China justified.
How the Consequentialistic Ethic may be used by Western Consumer Groups
The consequentialistic ethic can also be used by the Western consumer groups in their opposition against the production of cheap textiles by industries in China. To start with, Chow (2007) notes that, “textile industry causes serious environmental pollution due to the printing and the dyeing that takes place in industries” (p.323).
The western countries can argue that due to production of cheap textiles, there is usually high demand of the textile products which leads to increased production. Increased production on the other hand increases environmental pollution.
Since environmental pollution affects the health of human beings, then it does not cause happiness to human beings.According to the consequentialism theory, the activities of the textile industries in China do yield a negative impact and thus their actions are not justified.
Secondly, the production of cheap textiles by industries in China has led to a downfall of the Western textile industries. This is so because of the availability of China’s textiles in their country which makes most people prefer to buy the China textiles.
Yager (2005) states that, “China’s textile products have caused much disruption in the market and are a threat to an orderly development of trade in the US and EU” (P.30).This has been a cause of alarm in these countries.
Yager (2005) notes that, “the US have had to seek help from a Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreement (CITA) so as to come up with ways in which the impact of China’s textile products can be minimized” (p.30).
Brown et al. (2005) notes that, “CITA has laid strategies on how to control China’s exports in the US” (P.324). From these arguments, it is clear that China’s textile industry has caused many demerits than benefits to the American economy. Thus, the activities of the China’s textile industry are not justified by the consequentialism theory as they do not cause happiness to the American population.
Finally, the Western countries have had to move transfer their technology and manufacturing industries to the Eastern countries. Chow (2007) states that, “the US government has had to move foreign investments and technology to China so as to cope with the competition in textile industries” (p.323).
This movement makes people to be foreigners in another country whereas they could stay and enjoy with their relatives and friend in their own country. Since this is not a favorable outcome to the people in Western countries, then according to the consequentialism theory, the activities of China’s textile industries are not justified.
The Merits of the Consequentialism Theory given that it can Support Both Sides
The consequentialism theory has many merits over other ethics theories.
Anderson (1995) notes that, “the consequentialistic theory promises to provide a single, simple premise and determinate procedure of justification that employs objective calculation to overcome disputes over what to do” (p.440. China is able to justify its action of producing cheap textiles due to the positive outcomes that its activities yield by creating a premise and justifying it.
For instance China claims that its manufacture of cheap textile products helps to improve the economy and the GDP. Since this is a positive outcome, then by the determinate procedure, the activities of China’s textile industry are justified.
On the other hand, the Western countries will pick a premise like, production of cheap products by China’s textile industries cause environmental pollution which is a negative outcome. By the determinate procedure, the activities of China’s textile industries will not be justified.
Secondly, the consequentialism theory maximizes value. Anderson (1995) states that, “people seek to maximize value by sending their children to best schools, by ensuring that they obtain the maximum value of their money and by making the best of a bad day” (p.44).
In this case, China justifies its production of cheap textile industries by the end results. Some of these end results include: promoting the local economy and GDP, providing cheap clothes to customers and gaining popularity as the second largest economy in the world.
On the other hand, the Western consumers seek to maximize their value by criticizing China actions like those of exporting cheap products to their countries.
Finally, the consequentialistic theory applies specific social concepts. Anderson (1995) notes that, “consequentialism follows a long tradition in western philosophy that contrasts reason with emotions and social norms and that seeks independent perspective from which our emotions and social practices can be criticized”(p.43).
By applying these social concepts, both China and the Western countries are able to justify their arguments. For instance, the Western consumers argue that the mass production of textiles by China leads to environmental pollution, which is not socially acceptable.
On the other hand, China’s textile industries boast of having improved the local economy and the GDP among other achievements that are socially acceptable. Thus, the consequentialistic theory is able to support both sides as long as each party is able to justify its arguments in relation to behavior that creates maximum happiness for all.
How Producers in China’s Textile Industry can Use the Ethic of Virtue
Graham (2004) notes that, “virtue ethics seeks to answer the question, what is good life for human beings?” (p.61).
Swanton (2005) adds that, “ones morality is judged by the presence or absence of virtues which are described by words like good, bad, outgoing, lazy and intelligent” (p.120). Gardiner (2005) also states that, “Aristotle recognizes that some things are done for their own sake, end in themselves, while other things are done for the sake of others, means to other ends” (p. 47).
The manufacturers of textiles in China industries may use the ethics of virtue to respond to the consumers in Western countries in several ways. To start with, the consumers in Western countries argue that mass production of cheap textiles to meet the high demand of cheap textiles leads to environmental pollution.
So as to respond to this using the virtue theory, China can argue that their production of cheap textiles is usually out of good intentions. For instance, they can argue that they aim at enabling people of all social classes to have access to decent clothes and at an affordable price.
At the same time, producers in China textile industries can argue that their products lead to an improved global economy and an increased GDP, all which are good for the country.
Secondly, the consumers in Western countries argue that the production of cheap textiles has led to the fall of Western textile industries. By use of virtue ethics, the producers in China textile industries can argue that they do not produce cheap textiles with the ill intent of causing a downfall in the Western textile industries, but they do so as to improve the local economy.
Finally, consumers in the Western countries argue that they have had to transfer their technology and manufacturing industries to China.
By use of virtue theory, the Eastern countries can argue that their intentions for the Western textile industries markets are not ill as they do allow these foreign industries to operate from their countries as they make GNP for their home countries.
In conclusion, both the consequentialistic and the virtue theory can be used to support the existence of textile industries that produce cheap textile in the Eastern countries. By use of the consequentialistic ethics, Eastern countries can justify their industries by use of positive end results that they achieve.
Some of these end results include improved local economy and GDP, recognition as the world’s second largest economy, provision of cheap and high quality textiles to customers and a high profit margin in retail trade. By use of the virtue ethics, the Eastern countries are able to justify their production of cheap textiles.
On the other hand, Western consumers are able to oppose textile producers in the Eastern countries by use of consequentialistic theory.
Finally, the merits of the consequentialistic theory over other theories in ethics have been discussed. Some of these benefits includes: availability of a clear procedure to be followed in the theory whereby on builds a premise and later justifies it, its ability to maximize value and its reliance on specific social concepts.
Anderson, E. (1995) Value in ethics and economics. London, Harvard University Press.
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Gardiner, S. (2005) Virtue ethics, old and new. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
Graham, G. (2004) Eight theories of ethics. London, Routledge.
Hurthouse, R. (2000). Ethics, humans and other animals: an introduction with readings. Routledge
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