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RUNNING HEAD: Week 3 Assignment Page 1

Week 3 Assignment

Chad Rackers

PHI 445: Personal & Organizational Ethics

Instructor: Georginne Parisi

13 March 2017
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Week 3 Assignment

Introduction:

In 2010, the giant oil company, British Petroleum (BP) had one of the largest oil rig

disasters in the country, which resulted in the release of 3.19 million barrels of crude oil into the

Gulf of Mexico. The explosion causing the release killed 11 workers and took 87 days to plug

the well (Barrett, 2015). The effects of this catastrophe have created controversy as to whether

or not offshore drilling should be allowed. As the human race continues to grow, we need more

and more resources to sustain this growth. As stated in Fieser, Growth can bring prosperity, but

it can also create environmental problems (2016, Sec. 9.1). In the case of BP, Deepwater

Horizon is a prime example of how wrapped economic growth effects key factors that may be

overlooked or ignored. Many issues that resulted in the explosion were ignored resulting in the

blast which has had devastating consequences on the environment. Should we sacrifice the

environment for the growth of human population? Are people more important than the

environment?

Thesis:

In this essay, we will examine the effects of human growth on the environment and how

utilitarianism would contribute to the overall greater good of this increase. Utilitarianism is the

theory of providing an enormous amount of good for the largest number of things. The moral

idea of utilitarianism is happiness achievable physically or of significant satisfaction. To

achieve such happiness, one must increase pleasure or reduce pain and apply results to as many

as possible (Ziga y Postigo, 2015).

Premise #1:
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British Petroleum acted out of the virtue ethic theory during the 2010 crisis which

resulted in the massive oil leak. Deep Water Horizon is still under investigation; several factors

contributed to the explosion has been identified. It is apparent that BP had chosen to use cheaper

and faster ways of drilling in order to preserve time and money, compromising safety (Cherry &

Sneirson, 2010). The results of the spill have proven to be detrimental to life in the sea,

businesses along the shore and impacted the laws and regulations governing offshore drilling.

Therefore, crippling the industries production of crude oil. Crude oil is one of the United States

most valuable products as it would relate to the economy. Whether, you're driving a fuel

powered vehicle, or purchasing your shoes to wear, crude oil is being used to allow a person to

do so.

Premise #2:

Deontology is the act of duty rather than the act of doing good for all. BP has now turned

to deontology or having an obligation to clean and restore the environment. British Petroleum,

regulated by laws that are governed by certain liabilities. Oil spill liability falls into three

categories; strict liability, channeling of liability, and liability limits. The Oil Pollution Act of

1990 (OPA 90) strictly makes parties responsible for damages created by a spill. Negligence

must be proven to have strict liability. OPA 90 also channels liability for spills, specifical

identifying the responsible party for liability purposes. In the case of Deepwater Horizon, BP

was the holder of the drilling permit, deeming them the responsible party. Both strict and

channeling liability simplifies litigation but is still necessary to determine the party at fault.

Liability limits are in place to cap damages from oil spills. Currently, there is a 75 million dollar

cap for facilities such as Deepwater Horizon. Before OPA 90 the value of the vessel was the

limits of liability (Richardson, 2010). Although OPA 90 is not the only law governing oil spill
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incidents, state, federal, civil and criminal law dictates events that are proven to have gross

negligence. In October of 2016, BP agreed to a 20 billion dollar settlement. The agreement

would include massive restoration efforts for wildlife and plant habitats, along with settlements

for civil penalties (Bomey, 2016). While the recovery efforts benefit the environment and

communities affected by the spill, it has had an adverse impact on the company and ability to

grow.

Premise #3:

Under utilitarianism, giant oil companies would sacrifice a little for the overall well-being of

all but would be better off than British Petroleum 42 billion dollar mishap. With new rules and

regulations haveing been placed to preserve the environment and safety standards of offshore

drilling; it is necessary to continue increasing oil production to sustain the United States

economy. Although I believe BP is operation under the deontology theory, utilitarianism is the

ability to provide the greatest amount of good to the greatest number of people. Giant oil

production companies have a moral responsibility to conduct business as safely as possible to

produce a product. The United States relies on its oil production to sustain its economy. We

bought most of our oil from foreign countries, importing 9.4 million barrels per day from 88

countries in 2015 (U.S. Energy, n.d.). With new regulations, such as enhancing shear pipe

capabilities, and the increase of inspectors, oil companies can now increase the oil production in

the U.S. with less damage to the environment (Five years, n.d.). Therefore, creating more jobs,

lower fuel prices, and less dependency on other countries ensuring the greatest amount of good

for the greatest number of people in the United States.

Comparative Analysis:
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As stated above, BP has gone through a transformation through two of the ethical

theories. Deontology is the duty in which one believes they must act. In the case of BP, they had

made a mistake and is now bound by law and duty to help restore the environment.

Deontologys moral good is the duty achievable by treating people with dignity and respect.

Deontology is doing what is universalized (Ziga y Postigo, 2015). BP is acting on this theory

in the restoration process of Deepwater Horizons oil spill.


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References

Bomey, N. (2016, July 14). BP's Deepwater Horizon costs total $62B. Retrieved March 13,

2017, from http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2016/07/14/bp-deepwater-horizon-

costs/87087056/

Cherry, M. A., & Sneirson, J. F. (2010). Beyond Profit: Rethinking Corporate Social

Responsibility and Greenwashing after the BP oil spill. Tulane Law Review, 85(4), 983.

Retrieved from http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/Papers.cfm?abstract_id=1670149

Five years after BP spill, new rules for offshore drilling aim to boost safety. (n.d.). Retrieved

March 11, 2017, from http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-gulf-anniversary-20150418-

story.html

Richardson, N. (2010, June). Deepwater Horizon and the Patchwork of Oil Spill Liability Law.

Retrieved March 13, 2017, from

http://www.rff.org/files/sharepoint/WorkImages/Download/RFF-BCK-Richardson-

OilLiability_update.pdf

The BP oil spill cleanup isnt a disaster: Five years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster,

recovery is progressing better than expected. Bloomberg Business. Retrieved from

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-16/the-bp-oil-spill-cleanup-isn-t-a-

disaster

U.S. Energy Information Administration - EIA - Independent Statistics and Analysis. (n.d.).

Retrieved March 11, 2017, from https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=727&t=6


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Ziga y Postigo, G. (2015). The moral good in three traditional ethical theories [PowerPoint

Slides].
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