Ethics of care

You work for a large pulp and paper company that is situated in a very scenic community.  You moved to the province specifically for this job, uprooting your spouse and two kids with the promise of a better career.  You’ve enjoyed the work, the people in the company and are well compensated for your labor.  You live comfortably, are able to send your kids to private school and your partner works at a nearby college with great benefits and an excellent salary. 

 The factory has provided jobs for the community for well over 30 years, has established itself as a major source of economic support in the area, with thirty percent of the town involved in its business in some fashion, either as employees, suppliers, or auxiliary support.  Unlike other factories in nearby areas, this company has managed to turn a profit for its shareholders over the last ten years, making it a highly successful company in a region plagued by unemployment and economic downturns.  The factory is situated on a major river and uses the water system as both a source of water for its facilities and for disposal of most of its industrial waste.

 Your job is to carry out environmental impact assessments on the surrounding ecosystems on a yearly basis.  You have worked there for six years and your position was created at the same time you were hired. Each year, you carefully submit a report that details the harms that are being caused to the river ecosystem by the factory’s emissions. And each year, the company files the report quietly away. 

 For the last five years, the pollution to the river has been within legally set limits.  The emissions from the factory cause the death of fish, water fowl and local frogs.  Toxins leak in to the soil, and runoff has caused significant erosion of the river banks, affecting the habitat of water fowl.  This year, however, the pollutants in the river are now well over the legally established limits. You stress this in your report and provide three major recommendations when you file it:  change the chemical composition of the materials being used, create run-off containment storage areas and create a fund to invest in habitat restoration.  You are thanked and told to continue the good work.   You receive an outstanding performance review and get a pay increase.  But you notice that nothing is done to implement your recommendations.    Six months after you file your report, you ask your supervisor whether anything will be done and she says that it’s not your job to worry about that.   

1.  using the care process, analyze the actions of your supervisor.  What would be identified as ethically relevant?

2.  Identify a principle that could be used in making an argument about what the right thing to do is.  Make a short argument about what the right thing to do is using that principle.




Sample Solution