Ethics: Asbestos essay

1. In asbestos-related issues, the companies that use this material should be held morally responsible for its ill effects. Company heads act on behalf of their firms. In Sumner Simpson and Vandiver Brown’s case, they knew that asbestos is linked to cancer, but they chose not to disclose the knowledge to the unsuspecting public. At first, it would seem like blame should only be given on individuals like Simpson and Brown. But these people and other executives in the Asbestos industry represent their companies. Their decisions are also the decisions of their companies.

Simpson and Brown only acted in accordance to what they thought would please their shareholders. 2. The fiduciary duty of company leaders is to their shareholders. In that sense, Simpson and Brown were being faithful to their duties of maximizing shareholder value. However, company executives normally get big bonuses whenever their firms would post high earnings. I believe Simpson and Brown were not merely thinking of turning profit for their companies. They were most probably considering the hefty bonuses that awaited them should their respective companies continue to make money from products with asbestos in them.

3. If Simpson and Brown acted differently and chose to publish the results of the study in full, it would have hurt the asbestos companies’ profits. The companies would suffer negative results for a few years. But in the process, they would have found alternatives to using asbestos, which would have prevented the deaths of many people and the bankruptcy of some companies. Their shortsightedness resulted to tragedy for the industry. While they were able to suppress the data for a while, the resulting damage to those who were exposed to asbestos was tragic.

It also resulted to thousands of asbestos litigation and the subsequent closure of many asbestos companies. 4. If I were a stockholder in Raybestos-Manhattan or Johns-Manville, I would certainly disapprove of Simpson and Brown’s decision to suppress vital information. When the result of the study conducted in the 1930s showed that asbestos is linked to cancer, I would ask the board to conduct a company study to affirm or negate the results. The study was made in a ten-year period and that should tell me the results are very significant.

By doing this, the company is not only thinking of profits but also the welfare of its employees and the public. Also, this step would help the company how to continue its business, perhaps in a different line, once the study is proven true. . 5. I don’t agree that the responsibility of ensuring safety with respect to asbestos should be entirely put on the government’s lap. While it is true that the government has failed to create laws to govern the use of asbestos, the people couldn’t really blame the. In the 1930s, the government didn’t know about the dangers associated with using asbestos.

No one told them and no one complained, yet. The manufacturers have the main responsibility to conduct research and studies that would ensure the safety of their materials and products. There are thousands of industries that the government oversees; without feedback and input from industry players, the government won’t be able to perform its duties properly. Manufacturers and policymakers should work hand in hand in order to come up with legislations that would protect the public and the industry as a whole.


Mesothelioma News, Presented by the Law Firm of Baron & Budd, P. C. Retrieved April 4, 2008. from http://www. mesotheliomanews. com/legal/the-asbestos-tragedy/asbestos-industry-knowledge-of-the-risk/corporate-documents/ Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness Center. “What is Asbestos? ” Retrieved April 4, 2008, from http://www. maacenter. org/asbestos/ U. S. Department of Labor. “Asbestos. ” Retrieved April 4, 2008, from http://www. osha. gov/SLTC/asbestos/