A Report On Volkswagen Scandal Essay

A Report On Volkswagen Scandal Essay

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In 2014, researchers from West Virginia found out that recent models of Volkswagen vehicles were emitting up to 40 times the allowed levels of nitrogen oxides (2). These vehicles had a special software that would determine when the vehicle was in laboratory testing conditions, and the software would then alter the vehicle 's functionality to emit the legal amount of nitrogen oxides allowed by the EPA. The software was found in around half a million vehicles in the United States. In addition to the bad publicity, the Volkswagen scandal will cost the company at least $15.3 billion dollars in compensation to the owners of the affected vehicles (3). In 2016, Volkswagen engineer James Liang pleaded guilty for being a crucial part in developing the illegal software (3). The software was created because Volkswagen was unable to meet the rigorous EPA emission standards. Therefore, a small team of engineers including James Liang decided to cheat the emission exams to allow Volkswagen vehicles to be sold in the U.S.
Kant 's moral theory focuses on the intention of the action, rather than any consequence attached to such action. According to Kant, an individual 's will is what animates the individual 's body, while the duty is the obedience to a moral law. An individual 's will is considered to be strong when it is aligned with duty, even if the consequences harm that individual. For example, a student can fail a test instead of cheating since he or she believes that cheating is wrong. "You should not cheat" is an example of a maxim, a subjective principle that governs action. In order for a maxim to be morally right, it must be a categorical imperative, taken from an individual to a universal scale. In other words, is it rationally possible...


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...e consequences, as a utilitarian would. While Liang 's decision was immoral, he never treated anyone as simply “mere means.” One could argue that the people who bought the affected vehicles were used as “mere means” to an end. From Liang’s decision, those customers are part of the consequence, so they are not considered. However, the company Volkswagen as a whole did use the customers as a “mere means” to an end as they assumed that a simple cash settlement would have been enough to make up for the customers’ disappointment. From Kant’s moral theory, Liang’s decision to create the illegal software to cheat the EPA emission tests was morally wrong, even if it was due to necessity. While it can be argued that it is also morally wrong from a utilitarian’s point of view, it is important to realize that both theories reached the same conclusion through different processes.

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