Identify the ethical dilemma faced by Acme, and the dilemma faced by Beta. Use two theories of ethical thoughts (utilitarianism, deontology, or virtue ethics) to discuss the recommended course of action by both companies in the case below.
Six months ago, Acme, Inc. received a patent on a drug that will provide immortality to all. Acme’s president has publicly stated he has no plans to market the drug. Beta, Inc. copies the drug and releases it on the market. Beta makes no profit on the sale of this drug and only charges enough to cover its costs in manufacturing.
Before we use the ethical frameworks, we need to choose the frameworks that we will use. Let’s use Utilitarianism and deontology framework in this case.
Utilitarianism: According to utilitarianism, the ends justify the means. In this case the end result of Acme’s decision is that they will not market the drug and the drug will not help anyone. So they violate the ethical principle of beneficence (larger good). On the other hand, even though Beta has stolen the drug and releases in the market, the end result is good for most people and this supports the end result of beneficence. In this case the ethical dilemma is greater for Acme than Beta.
Deontology: According to deontological framework, it is not the end result but the action that is most valuable in ethical considerations. Here if we consider the action of Acme, we can identify that they have been selfish and the decision not to share the drug with public is ethically against beneficence. On the other hand according to deontological principles, even Beta is at fault. They copied the drug illegally and thus have violated the principle of non-maleficence (no harm to anyone) and justice (let Acme do what they want).