Use of Plastic Shopping Bags
- Using your own words, define the expression Utilitarianism. From the case study provide an example to show your understanding of the expression utilitarianism (5 marks)
Utilitarianism is an ethical ideology that considers the good of the society as the sum of happiness of individuals. The reason for morality is to promote the good of the society. The moral principle is ideal only in case the result maximizes the good for the society and eliminates pain and suffering. An example is the decision to stop the manufacture of plastic shopping bags that will promote environmental conservation (Diener & Suh, 1997).
- Applying utilitarian theory, discuss the trade-offs (opportunity costs) from using disposable shopping bags and not using disposable shopping bags in the case study provided (5 marks)
The production, use, and disposal of plastic bags have both positive and negative effects. The consumers find it comfortable, easy, and cheap to utilize plastic bags in their daily shopping and other activities. Manufacturing and retail businesses capitalize in using plastic for wrapping products and goods. The manufacturers of plastic bags make profits from the plastic bags as the government gets taxes. Despite the gains from the plastic bag industry, the negative impact on the environment outweighs the benefits. The lack of proper disposal mechanism of plastic bags has led to littering of the environment, deaths of marine animals, and destruction of the ecosystem. Plastic bags are also responsible for blocking sewer lines and high levels of carbon dioxide emissions. The costs of restoring the environmental damage occasioned by the use of plastic bags are quite high (Jalil, Mian, & Rahman, 2013).
- Applying utilitarian theory, use your own words to provide a clear solution for the problems caused by plastic shopping bags described in the case study (5 marks)
Finding a solution to the problem of plastic bags is as complex as the se of it has infiltrated into almost every part of daily life. The long-term solution calls for the introduction of alternative, cheap, and convenient packaging materials for industries and retail stores. The citizens should be encouraged to use other means of transporting goods purchased through the use of fabric bags rather than plastic bags. The government should establish a legal mechanism and a body that regulates the production, use and disposal of the plastic bags to minimize environmental pollutions. There should be levies associated with the use of plastic bags that can generate revenue for the collection and disposal of used bags (Buko, 2009).
- There will be effects if the plastic shopping bag industry is severely (heavily) regulated in various countries and cities. Use the case study and your own words to provide examples, which explain one benefit and one problem that might occur as a result of severe regulation. Discuss in some depth a benefit from regulation of production and usage of plastic shopping bags (5 marks)
The regulation will curtail the production and use of plastic bags resulting in the easing of the sustained environmental pollution. The reduction will save not only environment but ecological systems that are dependent on the environment for their survival, including the mankind. There are also economic gains as people and organization work to invent new methods of re-inventing the alternative to the plastic bags.
Discuss in some depth a problem from regulation of production and usage of plastic shopping bags (5 marks)
The production, distribution, and use of the plastic bags have been the center of the economic activities and particularly at the retail outlets. The regulation on the manufacture will hurt the economic activities that have been highly dependent on plastic bags for packaging of the goods. The development of an alternative product may increase the cost of packaging products which may cause some social outcry in the short term.
5. In your own words define deontology.. Provide a plastic shopping bags industry example to demonstrate that you clearly understand the expression deontology (5 marks)
Deontology is duty-based ethics that gives importance to fulfilling a duty without caring about the consequences. It is concerned with doing the right thing as it is right to do so and not doing the wrong thing because it is wrong. The actions under this ethic cannot be justified by showing good consequences. When the government imposes taxes on companies manufacturing plastic bags, it does so because it is the government’s duty to conserve the environment although the action leads to loss of jobs and revenue (Swanson, 1995).
- Describe how the new plastic shopping bags rules/ Government regulations create duties (obligations/ responsibilities) in the case (5 marks)
Government has a duty and responsibility of setting up rules and regulations for the common good of the people. The citizens, on the other hand, have the moral obligation of obeying the rules, laws, and regulations set by higher authority and in this case the government. The citizens are expected to obey the rules and regulations. When a citizen chooses to use the plastic bags, he/she will be acting immorally. Those who follow the guidance of the authorities relating to the use of the plastic bags will be acting immorally as well.
C. VIRTUE-BASED ETHICS
7. Using Virtue based ethics, discuss in some depth the argument an individual consumer (user of plastic shopping bags) might make to explain their choice in using and not using plastic shopping bags. (5 marks)
The individual consumers could attribute their choice of not using plastic bags to their character and inner conviction to preserve the environment. They believe that their choice is not because of the laws, regulations, and public opinion but rather as a way of life that is driven by the individual’s character and inner convictions. They will use plastic bags responsibly when there is no other option and avoid their use where alternative is available (Cherrier, 2006).