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Part I: Each student individually posts to their group discussion board by Tuesday, December 3, at 10:00 p.m. (EST) answers to the questions below.

Case: The Sole Remaining Supplier

The heart pacemaker is a modern wonder. The device has a timer that resets itself every time the patient's heart beats. If the heart does not beat on schedule (say, within 1.2 seconds), the pacemaker gives a stimulus that causes a heartbeat. But the technology was not always so sophisticated, and its early limitations form the background of this true story, told to Markkula Center for Applied Ethics Director Thomas Shanks, S.J., by one of the participants. 

It's 1975, and you are on the board of directors of a company that makes transistors. Among the many companies with whom you have a contract is one that makes heart pacemakers. Pacemaker technology is in its infancy. When doctors implant a pacemaker, the patient's normal heartbeat is disabled, and he or she relies entirely on the device. If it fails, the patient's heart stops. Doctors are not very adept at installing the pacemakers, which are extremely delicate; there is even a story of a person yawning deeply, pulling the pacemaker wire in his chest, and dying.

After that and many similar incidents, the board begins to reconsider whether your company should sell to the pacemaker company. Members of the board feel this situation is a major lawsuit just waiting to happen and your company, as well as the company you supply, will be liable. In addition, you feel the specs the pacemaker company uses to test the transistors are not very strong.

You and the board decide to get out of the business before it's too late. You tell the pacemaker company representatives about your conclusion, and they respond, "You can't stop selling us the transistors. You are the sole remaining supplier for us. Everyone else has backed out for the same reasons you're giving. If you don't sell us the product, we'll go out of business. Pretty soon, no one will be making heart pacemakers, and many people need them. Without the pacemaker, people don't even have a chance."

You take that information back to the board. People around the table have different opinions. One person says, "This is a bad deal, and it isn't our problem. We don't make enough on this sale to make the risk worthwhile." Another person says, "We don't know how other companies use the transistors we sell them; why should we be concerned about this one? What about that baby who died when the transistor in the incubator failed? We didn't know how that company was using the transistor." Another person says, "I think we're missing the real issue here. Don't we have an ethical obligation to sell the product to the pacemaker company? What will happen if we don't sell to them?" Another person says, "Give me a break. Our only obligation is to our shareholders. And how did we get so stupid that we're the last source? I'm telling you, we don't need this." Finally, the chair of the board says, "OK. Let's make a decision."

What do you do?

This case was written by Thomas Shanks, S.J., Executive Director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.

Part I Assignment (25 points): Post a new thread to your GROUP discussion board forum entitled Applied Ethics Assignment, at least 300 words in length, that includes: 

  1. (100 – 150 words) First, explain the utilitarian theory of ethics and its key principles (plural). No more than 20 words can be a direct quote from the assigned readings, lectures, or videos (no other sources permitted). The rest must be entirely in the student’s own words. Failure to properly cite any source (including direct quotes, paraphrases, or summaries), or use of a source other than those listed below, will be result in a 0 on this assignment, and be referred to the GMU Office of Academic Integrity as a violation of the GMU Honor Code.
  2. (At least 150 words) Secondly, apply that theory to the transistor case, and decide whether the transistor company’s board of directors should continue, or discontinue, selling transistors to the pacemaker company. Explain your answer in accordance with your assigned theory. This portion (applying the theory to the case) must be entirely in the student’s own words. Any use of outside sources, or any other violation of the GMU Honor code, will result in a 0 on this assignment, and be referred to the GMU Office of Academic Integrity as a violation of the GMU Honor Code.

Assignment Rules: Students may consult and cite ONLY their lecture notes, the textbook, and other assigned readings and videos listed in the syllabus, in completing this assignment. Students may not consult or cite any other resource (including classmates, other people, the internet, etc.).

            Example of textbook citation: (Miller and Cross, 515) or (Miller and Cross, 5-3b)

            Example of lecture citation: (Zylstra lecture, Ethics, slide 5)

            Citation of assigned scu.edu readings (Title of article. Retrieved from http://www.scu.edu...)

            Citation of assigned Kantian youtube video: (Philosophy Tube. 2016, June 10. Beginner's Guide to Kant's Moral Philosophy. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQ2fvTvtzBM)

Students may post Part I only one time to the group discussion board (no re-submissions), and no late work will be accepted.

Part I Grading Rubric:

     Student demonstrates understanding of course material: 0 - 10 points

     Student properly applies the course material to case: 0 - 10 points

     Student demonstrates proper essay structure (including proper grammar, spelling, sentence structure, etc.): 0 - 5 points  (Note: Essays not conforming to the minimum answer length will receive 0/5 for this s

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