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Love Canal and Saving the Turtles Research Paper

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Updated: Sep 6th, 2021

Environmental problems and threats are often cited as the most important and crucial issues for global and regional communities. Thus, companies and local authorities often forget about morality and ethics blinded by increased profits and enormous opportunities of new business ventures. Love Canal and population of turtles are not an exception: they became the greatest environmental tragedy unveiling low morals and lack of ethical principles of business. Ethical behavior, at its most basic level, is what most people in a given society or group view as being moral, good, or right. In general, moral responsibility involves strict guidelines which determine moral and social obligations the people should follow. Potential hazards or problems, both when used as intended and possible misuse or use in other applications, should be identified.

The Love Canal was created and used by the Hooker Chemical Company for dumping hazardous wastes. In 1953, the canal was covered with earth and sold it to the city. The main problem was that the city authorities paid no attention to hazardous wastes and built 100 homes on the banks of this canal. In a short period if time, hazardous chemicals seeped through the ground. They were found everywhere in the playground and at homes, at school and hospitals1. The population of the Love Canal was several injured and poisoned by these chemicals. “Some of these puddles were in their yards, some were in their basements, others yet were on the school grounds. A large percentage of people in Love Canal are also being closely observed because of detected high white-blood-cell counts, a possible precursor of leukemia”2.

Another tragedy affected the most unique and rare species of turtles, the Kemp Ridley sea turtles. In spite of protective laws and regulations, this population decreased each year of about 3 %. The main cause of extinction was shrimp industry and trawlers which ruined nests and killed turtles. In order to improve the situation, TED device (turtle exploder device) was developed. In a time, the research committee announced results: TED was ineffective and did not protect turtles from extinction. The developers of TED protected their device and claimed that shrimpers did not use it correctly. In their turn, shrimpers accused the federal government and TED laws in unfair policies which caused economic damage to the industry3. The ethical problem was that neither government nor shrimp industry wanted to protect the turtles and lost million of dollars. Shrimpers did not want to use innovative technology and reduce number of trawlers while the federal authorities did not spent money on research and development, and did not prohibit shrimp business in this region.

Both of these cases unveil lack of ethical principles and neglect of moral norms in business and economic matters. Following utilitarianism and morality, any business should be based on the greatest happiness principle, the hedonistic principle and the principle of impartiality. In this case, happiness’ means the pleasure and absence of pain of sentient living beings4. The qualities of different kinds of pleasure and pain are irrelevant to the happiness calculation—the only variables to be considered are the intensity, duration, probability, closeness, continuity and purity of the pleasures and pains in question, and the number of individuals who experience them. In the happiness calculation, the pleasures and pains of each sentient living being shall be weighed equally. The first acknowledged proponent of radical utilitarianism was William Godwin, whose uncompromising applications of the utilitarian calculus gave the view the bad name it still has in many quarters5.

Applied to “Love Canal” and “Save the Turtles” cases, utilitarianism can be seen as the application of the requirements of altruism and benevolence to reforms in legislation and in political life. The theoretical foundation of this doctrine varied from descriptive altruism to psychological egoism, but the central position is invariably occupied by the three principles mentioned above. In both cases, the aim of normative ethics is to provide a plausible and inclusive account of the rights and duties of moral agents and moral patients6. For the Love Canal, the moral principles involve fair treatment of all citizens and the environment in spite of economic benefits and opportunities. The case “Save the Turtles” shows that the basic needs of various individuals and groups may be in conflict, but the principles of utilitarianism is to define the rights and duties of the parties involved. The aim of normative ethics is to provide a plausible and inclusive account of the rights and duties of moral agents and moral patients7.

Today, there is a strong tendency is for societies to demand that companies act with increasing concern for the overall societal and environmental needs, as well as economic needs. Moral responsibility of the government and the shrimp industry means that they have broader obligations including the community, environment, and society as a whole. For instance, safety is more important than the level of profits8. Many companies develop a code of ethical conduct which stipulates strict moral and ethical rules aimed to protect interest groups. The notion of responsibility involves external areas and internal areas (physical environment factors). The main task of moral responsibility and ethics is to reduce any harmful influence on the natural environment and stakeholders. Responsibility has a great impact on the overall being of a business determining moral and ethical standards applied to all areas of operations. It creates a positive image of the company and ensures social stability and recognition. More specifically, values should be seen as the standards of shrimp industry by which things may be judged and serve to shape people’s beliefs and consequently their atti­tudes. In both cases, the authorities did not interfere and protect the environment from degradation. This is probably the most illusive area of culture as values and attitudes only become apparent through inter-personal communication and interaction9. There are no for­mal rules and guidelines, but the unwritten frameworks may be just as powerful in determining behavior. The proponents of morality claim that it is futile to educate the masses, since ordinary human beings lack the inborn qualities without which it is impossible to appreciate the environment.

Understanding moral action as adherence to pre-established rules encourages rigidity and lack of moral sensitivity. Understanding moral action as the development of a good character encourages the self-engrossed concern with meaning well or of having good intentions. Each of these two concerns provides a comfortable substitute for the difficult task of bringing about good consequences in specific situations10. In the case of Love Canal and Save the Turtles, morality is more than following rules and more than manifesting it set of inculcated virtues. In both cases, morality means environmental protection of the land and the species, moral social behavior and rules. Morality is not postulated in abstract rules to be followed or virtues to be inculcated; rather, morality is discovered in concrete moral experience. Bringing about good consequences in specific situations through moral decision making helps develop, as byproducts, both good character traits as habits of action and good rules11. Value emerges in the interactions of individuals, and wholes gain their value through the interactions of individuals, while the value of individuals cannot he understood in isolation from the interrelationships which constitute their ongoing development12. When the government slides over the complexities of a problem, it can be easily be convinced that categorical moral issues are at stake. And the complexities of a problem are always context dependent. Morality is not postulated in moral rules but discovered in moral experience functioning in the richness and complexity of situations, and it is here that the recovery of the “foundations” of morality is to be found. Lack of research and attention to environmental threats led to health risks and deaths near the Love canal. “The Hooker Chemical Company’s dumping of toxic wastes at Love Canal,” said Blum, “and the resulting health and environmental damages are a stark symbol of the problems created by the improper disposal of hazardous wastes by our society”13. In this case, morality is not ultimately guided by fixed ends; rather, such reasoning involves an ongoing process in which the means–end distinction becomes purely functional14.

Any chosen end is a means to something further, and any end chosen is value laden with the means with which it is intertwined. People create and use norms or ideals in the moral situation as hypotheses by which to organize and integrate the diversity of values. For shrimpers, profits and personal gain were the only ‘values’ they followed. In general, the moral realm is one of rich, complex situations, and what works is dependent upon the emergent but real domain of values that need integration and harmonizing. Workability cannot be understood in terms of one fixed end; rather, workability involves the flourishing of experience in its entirety15. It involves sensitivity to complex value-laden nature of a situation and its interwoven and conflicting dimensions, the ability to use creative intelligence geared to the fullness of the situation, and an ongoing evaluation of the resolution. Decisions that change a situation will give rise to new problems requiring new integrative solutions. The goal is not to determine the most unequivocal decision, but the richest existence for those involved16. While efficiency is certainly (or at least should be) a consideration in many public policy measures, it will in many cases be sacrificed in the interests of justice, equity, and fairness. Government moves forward by a complex process of compromise and negotiation and divides authority and applies checks and balances to limit power in a way that would not be possible for private business organizations to accomplish.

In sum, the cases described above vividly portray that morality and utopianism can be discovered in primal moral experience, and the vital, growing sense of moral rightness comes from attunement to the way in which moral beliefs and practices must be rooted naturally in the very conditions of human existence. This attunement gives vitality to the diverse and changing principles embodied in ongoing moral activity; such an attunement also provides the ongoing direction for well-intentioned individuals to continually evaluate and at times reconstruct their own habits and traditions as they use the various human dimensions needed to bring about ongoing flourishing of experience in a changing world. Humans cannot assign priority to any one basic value, nor can their values be arranged in any rigid hierarchy, but they must live with the consequences of their actions within concrete situations in a process of change. Morality should support public policy; policy must be fed by moral perceptiveness. The state and government policies in turn should nurture moral sensitivity and the moral direction of market forces by providing a socioeconomic context in which morally attuned actions can flourish without undue economic penalty. The operating principles of the policy process are concepts such as justice, equity, and fairness. These concepts are often invoked to justify the decisions made in the public policy process about resource allocation.

Footnotes

  1. Beck, E.C. The Love Canal Tragedy. EPA Journal, 1979.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Buchholz, R.A. Save the Turtles. Pollution and Environment. pp. 100-103.
  4. Frederick, R. (ed.). A companion to business Ethics. (Blackwell Publishers, 2002), 23.
  5. Ibid, 24.
  6. Ibid, 26.
  7. Ibid, 28.
  8. Beauchamp, T.L., Bowie, N. Ethical Theory and Business. 7th edition. (Upper Saddle River, New Jersy: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2003), 87.
  9. Ibid, 83.
  10. The Definition of Morality. 2002. Web.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Beauchamp, T.L., Bowie, N. Ethical Theory and Business. 7th edition. (Upper Saddle River, New Jersy: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2003), 87.
  13. EPA, New York State Announce Temporary Relocation of Love Canal Residents. EPA press release, 1980.
  14. Beauchamp, T.L., Bowie, N. Ethical Theory and Business. 7th edition. (Upper Saddle River, New Jersy: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2003), 89.
  15. Ibid, 89
  16. Ibid. 90.

Bibliography

  1. Beauchamp, T.L., Bowie, N. Ethical Theory and Business. 7th edition, Upper Saddle River, New Jersy: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2003.
  2. Beck, E.C. The Love Canal Tragedy. EPA Journal, 1979.
  3. Buchholz, R.A. Save the Turtles. Pollution and Environment. pp. 99-105.
  4. Frederick, R. (ed.). A companion to business Ethics. Blackwell Publishers, 2002.
  5. The Definition of Morality. . 2002. Web.
  6. EPA, New York State Announce Temporary Relocation of Love Canal Residents. , 1980. Web.
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