Duty ethics

In a well-written, 4- to 5-page paper (not including cover and reference pages), apply Duty
Ethics to the Mattel case study.
1.Briefly (1-2 paragraphs) describe what is meant by duty ethics.
2.Choose two ethical issues raised by the Mattel case (e.g., Mattel’s treatment of company
employees would be a good choice of ethical issues).
3.Apply duty ethics to your two Step 2 choices. How does use of duty ethics as a lens inform
the ethical nature of your two choices? Remember that duty ethics concerns duty and
rights, so be sure to address both in your written analysis.
4.Be sure to include at least two sources from the library to support your discussion and
analysis.
5.Be sure that you properly cite your sources using proper APA style, and use proper in-
text citations.
6.Follow the guidelines in The Student Guide to Writing a High Quality Academic Paper
7.You are expected to demonstrate evidence of critical thinking – as defined in the Module
2 background materials and the grading rubric.

Duty Ethics
Definition

Duty ethics, which is also known as deontological ethics, assume that the morality of an action
is justified by its ability to comply with available rules, as well as the degree by which it
demonstrates respect to humanity (Misselbrook, 2013). According to Misselbrook (2013), there
are two categories of deontologists based on what defines the rightfulness of the choices made
when they are faced with an ethical dilemma. The first category of deontologists believes that an
action is considered to be moral if it conforms to specific rules or laws, which every member of
the society is expected to obey. This group of deontologists would not engage in certain actions,
even if the procedures are considered to be moral because other members of the group are

DUTY ETHICS 2
prevented by law from engaging in such behaviors. In such a case, deontologists give Right more
priority than Good, and they make choices based on whether they will have the ‘will’ to make
their choices a general law (Misselbrook, 2013).
The second category of deontologists evaluates the morality of an action based on
individual procedures used to achieve it, but not on their outcome. This means that some actions
are unethical however good their consequences may be. Persons in this category believe that
morality of an action is inherent in specific actions that are followed to achieve the desired
outcomes. In this regard, human beings are influenced to engage in moral actions based on their
ability to show respect for humanity, but not by the ability of those actions to generate positive
consequences. The second category of deontologists, therefore, believes that human beings have
a duty to respect all forms of humanity by treating others not merely as a means, but as an end
(Takala, 2007).

Ethical issues raised in Mattel’s case

Duty ethics can be applied to ethical issues identified in Mattel’s case concerning how the
company treats its employees. One of the moral issues evidenced in Mattel’s case and that can be
analyzed using duty ethics is the company’s treatment of pregnant women who form part of its
workforce. From Mattel’s case study, it has been discovered that the company makes pregnant
women spend long hours working just like other members of the workforce without any extra
payments. The company exposes pregnant women to work conditions which have a negative
impact on their health. Women who cannot abide by the company’s directives are forced to leave
their job. From the way Mattel treats the pregnant women, it is clear that the company does not

DUTY ETHICS 3
take interests of these workers into consideration during task planning (Sethi, Veral, Shapiro and
Emelianova, 2011).
Moreover, Mattel does not limit the quantity of work that it gives to employees even over
the weekends. Specifically, the company forces its workers to perform similar duties over the
weekends, and employees who fail to abide by this decree are relieved of their duties. In addition
to performing routine activities over the weekends, employees at Mattel Inc are allowed to rest
for only one day in a 2-week long work schedule. Employees at Mattel Inc are overworked, and
those who go to church on Sundays are prevented from enjoying the freedom of worship. It can,
therefore, be concluded that Mattel is not concerned about employee experiences as well as on
how they can feel whenever they are denied an opportunity to go to church (Sethi et, al., 2011).

Application of Duty Ethics

i. Rights
Mattel’s treatment of its workers is dreadfully unethical based on the assumptions of duty
ethics. According to Misselbrook (2013), duty ethics assumes that an act is considered moral if it
complies with the set rules or norms, and if it demonstrates total respect for humanity. On duty
ethics, the morality of an action is justified by its adherence to available laws, but not on the
goodness or badness of its impacts. In its code of ethical conduct, Mattel has documented rules
and policies that govern actions of managers in the organization (Sethi et. al, 2007). By having
rules that govern employee activities in the organization, Mattel is expected to comply with the

DUTY ETHICS 4
available norms for its actions to be considered ethical. At the same time, based on the contents
of Mattel’s code of ethical conduct, all workers including pregnant women have the right to be
treated as per the organization’s Code. On the contrary, the organization has failed to observe the
rules documented in its code of ethical conduct by forcing pregnant women to work longer hours
without additional pay (Sethi et. al, 2007). This makes Mattel’s actions to be unethical based on
the assumptions of duty ethics.
Additionally, it is documented in Mattel’s code of conduct that the company will treat its
employees fairly by placing their interests into consideration when preparing work schedules and
when assigning tasks. The company has however violated this rule by making its employees
work for two weeks with only a day’s break, and by forcing them to perform huge tasks over the
weekends (Sethi et. al, 2007). The presence of rules in Mattel’s code of conduct to guide its
actions indicates that all workers have the right to receive fair treatment from the company. On
the other hand, Mattel has chosen to overwork its employees and to deny them an opportunity to
express their freedom of worship. It can, therefore, be concluded that the company’s treatment of
its employees is unethical on the assumptions of duty ethics. Based on its treatment of pregnant
women and other employees, Mattel has acted in a manner that it would not will that its actions
be made a universal law (Misselbrook, 2013).
ii. Duty
Mattel’s treatment of its employees in the two instances is very unethical because they do
not show respect for humanity as required by duty ethics. One of the parts of duty ethics
definition emphasizes the need for an action to demonstrate respect for humanity for it to be
considered ethical (Takala, 2007). On duty ethics, Mattel has a duty to assign simple tasks to

DUTY ETHICS 5
pregnant women and to prepare work schedules that will allow its workers enough time to rest
and to go to church. Unfortunately, the organization has failed to show humanity to its female
employees as well as to the rest of the workers by treating them as a means, but not as an end.
Mattel has done so because it believes that it can earn additional profits and revenue by
overworking its employees and by allowing them to work extra hours without any additional
pay. In this manner, Mattel treats its employees as a means of earning additional revenues and
profits, but not as an end. Mattel’s treatment of its employees is unethical concerning duty ethics
because the company cannot will that its actions be made a universal law, and because its actions
do not demonstrate respect for humanity (Takala, 2007).

References

Misselbrook, D. (2013). Duty, Kant, and deontology. British Journal of General Practice,
63(609):211. doi:10.3399/bjgp13X665422
Sethi, S., Veral, E., Shapiro, H., & Emelianova, O. (2011). Mattel, Inc.: Global manufacturing
principles (GMP) – A life-cycle analysis of a company-based code of conduct in the toy
industry. Journal of Business Ethics, 99(4), 483-517. Retrieved from ProQuest.

DUTY ETHICS 6
Takala, T. (2007). The tentative tool for making morally better decisions in business a Rossian
approach. Electronic Journal of Business Ethics and Organization Studies, 12(2):1239-
2685.

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