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PHL 264 Business and Professional Ethics

Assignment 1: Moral Reasoning Exercise

Due date: Friday, 9th August
Length: 800 words
Weight: 30%
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website at:
Please contact your lecturer if you have questions about how to
approach the assignment.

The aim of this exercise is to help you become familiar with the
techniques of moral reasoning and to encourage you to think critically
about moral issues. Remember to support your particular moral
judgments about these cases with reasons. You should aim to justify
your particular moral judgments using relevant moral principles and
moral reasons. These principles may be very general, like the principle
of utility (maximize happiness), or common deontological principles
concerned with loyalty, promise keeping, or prohibiting killing and

harming, etc. You will find examples of all these kinds of principles in
the lectures and the readings. Aim to achieve a consistent fit between
your moral beliefs, principles and particular judgments.

*Take particular notice of the distinction between morality and law with
regards to these cases and review what was said in the lecture about
this distinction.
Answer ALL the questions from sections A, B and C (questions
Section A
Read the following news item and answer the questions:
GlaxoSmithKline to pay $3bn in US drug fraud scandal
1. What are the main ethical issues raised by GlaxoSmithKlines
decision to promote and market drugs for unapproved uses? Do you
think that such practices are morally permissible or unethical? Provide
detailed reasons to support your conclusions.
2. Do you think it was morally acceptable for GlaxoSmithKline not to
release relevant research data and to make unsupported safety claims
for one of its diabetes drugs?
Is there a moral difference between merely failing to provide relevant
information and actively making false claims about the safety of a
drug? Why/Why not?
3. Is it unethical for pharmaceutical companies to give doctors
incentives to prescribe their drugs or should this be viewed as a
legitimate form of marketing? Give reasons to support your answer.
Section B
Watch or read the transcript of the following program and answer the
Globesity: Fats New Frontier.
4. Do large food and beverage companies have any moral obligation or
responsibility to consider the consequences for public health of
marketing and distributing certain kinds of food and drink products?
Why/Why not? Answer this question using examples from the
documentary to support your conclusions.
5. The program describes a range of marketing techniques used by
food and beverage companies in different countries: the marketing of
soft drinks to schools in Mexico; the door to door selling of snack foods
fortified with micronutrients and marketed to low income families in

Brazil; a snack food boat that visits small villages along the Amazon to
promote and sell food and drinks. Do you find any of these marketing
techniques morally problematic? Why/Why not?
Section C
6. Compare your responses to the two cases. Do you apply the same
principles and standards of conduct to pharmaceutical companies as
you do to food and beverage companies? What are the morally
relevant differences/similarities between the two cases?