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Value-based decision making

In value-based decision-making, you use moral values to pose problems and solutions. For example, problems can be posed as conflicts between values (moral vs. non-moral or moral vs. moral), lack of information about how to realize or maintain values, and situations where key values need to be defended. The point in value-based decision making is to design solutions that realize the maximum number of values possible by integrating them, drawing successful compromises between them, or choosing to act upon the most important value given the situation. In this module, you will be working from within David Jackson’s position to design a solution to his problem that best responds to the value needs in his situation.

    Gilbane gold

  • You are David Jackson a young engineer working for the computer manufacturer, Z-Corp. Your studies into the waste emissions of Z-Corp indicate that they are a little bit over the boarderline of what is legally acceptable in the Gilbane metropolitan area. Two further issues complicate your findings. (1) Gilbane draws sludge from the river and sells it to farmers to cover their fields; if heavy metals are present in this sludge, they will be passed on to consumers who eat the vegetables grown in fields covered with this "Gilbane Gold." This could produce long and short term health problems for the Gilbane community. (2) Z-Corp has just entered into a new agreement with a Japanese company that will produce a five-fold increase in demand for their product. While this will also increase their emissions of heavy metals into the water supply by the same amount, it will not violate city regulations because these regulations only take into account the concentration of heavy metals in each discharge. Z-Corp merely dilutes the heavy metals dumped into Gilbane's water supply to reflect acceptable concentration levels. David Jackson holds that this loophole in environmental regulations could endanger the health and safety of the citizens in the Gilbane. But he has trouble sharing these concerns with his supervisors, Diane Collins, Phil Port, and Frank Seeders.
  • David (you) has made several efforts to make his concerns known to Z-Corp officials, including Phil Port, Frank Seeders, and Diane Collins. Their response is that spending money on increased pollution control measures will threaten Z-Corp’s thin profit margin. Diane puts the issue even more strongly when she says that Z-Corp’s social responsibility is to provide the Gilbane community with good jobs and to obey local environmental regulations. If the city wants stricter regulations, then they need to pass them through the legislative process. But taking proactive measures on this count goes far beyond Z-Corp's ethical and social responsibilities to the Gilbane community.
  • You are David. What values do you see involved in this situation? Design a solution that best preserves and integrates them.

    Partial list of characters

  1. David Jackson : Young engineer whose measurements show that Z-Corp's emissions into the Gilbane water supply barely exceed local standards. He expresses concern to his supervisors on the impact on the safety and health of the local community.
  2. Diane Collins : David's supervisor who is under strong pressure to maintain the Z-Corp Gilbane plant's thin profit levels. She is concerned about environment responsibility but defines it as staying within the limits of the law as put forth by the Gilbane community. Gilbane sets for the law and Z-Corp is responsible for staying within its limits. If the law is inadequate, then Gilbane is responsible for changing it.
  3. Tom Richards : Environmental engineer hired to measure Z-Corp's heavy metal emissions into the Gilbane water supply. Richards warns David that he bears ultimate responsibility for Z-Corp's emisions into the Gilbane water supply.
  4. Phil Port : Z-Corp's official in charge of the company's compliance with environmental regulations. He calls David during the TV documentary to claim that it portrays him as an "environmental rapist."
  5. Frank Seeders : Frank is the point man on helping to gear up Z-Corp's operations to meet the new demand created by their recent venture with a Japanese company. He asks David to help him streamline Z-Corp's manufacturing process.
  6. Maria Renato : Local reporter who produces documentary exposing Z-Corp's potentially dangerous emissions. She has prepared her report based on documentation provided by David Jackson.

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Source:  OpenStax, Collection of ethics modules for civis. OpenStax CNX. Feb 26, 2013 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11493/1.1
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