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Ethics: History and Philosophy
Learning Diary 1
People argue on the definition of business ethics and its connection with self-interest and social responsibility. There are different schools of thought when it comes to this topic. Therefore, this paper will reflect on this ethical dilemma based on three various resources. The first resource is an article entailed “What’s Matter with Business Ethics?” by Andrew Stark. The second article is written by Jacob Dahl Rendtorff and entitled “Business Ethics, Philosophy of Management, and Theory of Leadership. In addition to that, the third resource is a Podcast by BBC called “Billionaires.”
Stark, in his article, tackled very crucial points of view. To be ethical, you have to ignore your self-interest and be ready to lose everything but morality. Stark did not mention that directly, but I felt it more or less in the first half of the article. He stated that you have to be ethical regarding the consequences, even if this may lead you to lose your company. From my point of view, people will not be ethical if you tell them such a statement. Who will sacrifice everything just to obtain a title, “a good person”? This does not mean that I do not prioritize ethics and morality, but I’m realistic. When it comes to the correlation between laws and ethics, we have to consider ethics as a more significant concept that does not depend only on rules and policies. Doing the right thing has to do with inner desires rather than a fear of punishment.
Stark continued by saying that if a company goes with ethical decisions only because it generates profits, this is the complete opposite of behaving ethically. But do we really care? I mean, even if the company is making ethical decisions to gain market value, but these decisions are actually helping the public, so why would we attack them? We have to have something in between. Can self-interest and ethics combine in some aspects? I was thinking about these questions while reading the first half of the article.
I kept this thought till I read a section called “Towards a New Business Ethics?” In this section, Stark emphasized that it is essential to behave ethically without ruining your own business. This reminded me of the first lecture when Dr. Nellie mentioned that Business ethics is an old dilemma that people try to identify and deal with. I think now I know why people still talk about the same topic for 20+ years. It happened because we failed to identify business ethics correctly. People thought that being ethical had nothing to do with achieving anything you wanted. That’s why I found Reindorf’s article very unique. He tried to link the concept of business ethics with good management decision-making rather than psychologically manipulate people with the idea of ethics to be a good one! Reindorf knew that ethics could be connected with good decision-making and performing well in general. Towards the end of Stark’s article, he started to understand what ethics means when he refused to separate self-interests from moral behaviors. It does not make any sense to do so. If you want people to behave more ethically, do not make them feel like they have to give up everything to be so. Being ethical is a part of people’s lives but not everything.
Ethics, law, philosophy and business
Learning Diary 2
Corporate agency and shared responsibility are controversial topics that people argue on. There are different models available for such a dilemma. Some people say that we should consider corporates as humans and make them responsible for any decision or ethical violation. However, others argue that corporates are not people, and they cannot be held accountable for any action, but people who did the action themselves. In this reflection, I will address these concepts relying on an article entitled “Rethinking Corporate Agency in Business, Philosophy, and Law” by Samuel Mansell.
Samuel, in his article, relied on various secondary sources to show how distinct philosophers evaluated the concept of corporate personhood differently. The first approach that Samuel highlighted is the following: We cannot hold businesses morally responsible because, according to Kantian, a philosopher, responsibility is inalienable, so a corporation cannot be held ethically accountable for the activities of its members. As a result, you should hold individuals responsible for corporate malfeasance rather than firms themselves. For me, it is an approach to evaluate things as it guides individuals to think about any decision they make critically, so there is an investment in people’s personalities. However, it does have disadvantages. What if the company or the manager deceives the employee to do a particular task to make them responsible for it? Sometimes employees are just following what their managers are asking them to do, so it is not fair to hold them totally responsible for a crisis even if they have a moral obligation to understand the results of whatever action they do. The second approach that Samuel brought into the discussion is about making the corporate responsible for scandals, not individuals. This approach does not care much about the individuals who caused the scandals but the company as a whole. This approach, in my opinion, solves the problem of holding employees responsible, especially if they are following orders given by their managers. However, it has another disadvantage. What if an employee caused this scandal for a purpose by taking a bribe from competitors. Now, we are talking about the company’s image that will be significantly destroyed because of one bad guy. I know that the company has a responsibility to review any decision critically before it is taken. Still, again it is not fair to put an end to the company’s life.
I cannot choose one approach over another; they both have pros and cons, so integrating both ideologies would be better for me. I do remember when I asked Mr. Motaz from Shell Company about the responsibility that oil and gas companies should be held for when it comes to climate change, and he said, “We all should be held responsible for.” It is not only about the company but also about the user who consumes this gas. Thus, I still believe that a third approach that combines these two with the concept of “We all may be responsible for” would be better for both corporates and individuals.
The purpose of business, corporate social responsibility and sustainability
Learning Diary 4
To sustain in a business, you have to have a purpose, and this purpose has to be acquired by people who work in your organization and the customers who depend on your service. Unfortunately, corporates face various issues caused by corporate social responsibility and irresponsibility (CSR vs. CSiR) while trying to sustain. In this reflection, I will tackle all of these concepts starting from the business’s purpose, the link to the idea of ethics and CSR, CSiR, and what these have to do with honorable or good business. I will rely on various sources such as “Why are we HERE by Mark Smith,” “Ethics, profitability can coexist by V. Keshavdev,” “The roots of corporate social irresponsibility by Maria Rotundo,” in addition to a TEDx talk on “Honorable Business” by Jim Otteson.
Smith, in his article, explained that if you want the employees to perform well, they have to know the purpose of what they are doing. He provided several statistics of the small number of employees who actually know why they are doing these tasks. But, the question is the following: why do we care that employees have to acquire the “why” behind their work? Smith said that “Your Purpose Is Your Promise to Customers.” So, if you want to position yourself well among competitors, you have to deliver what you promised customers for. What does this have to do with ethics? I believe that there is a significant connection between what Smith was discussing and the concept of business ethics. Most firms want to behave ethically, but how can they do so without ensuring their employees know what you mean by acting ethically? If employees are aware of your own definition of ethics, they will less likely commit to any unethical decisions, and in the end, it is about what values you promised your customers to offer. If you are “Facebook,” and you promised the users to protect their data, make sure that employees are aware of this, and try to make sure that your actions are meeting this goal successfully and ethically.
Now, we are aware of the purpose of business and what it has to do with business ethics, but what do CSR and CSiR have to do with this? Keshavdev, in his article, explained that ethics and profitability could coexist. I do not have to generate zero revenue to be ethical. Moreover, he continued that sometimes people define corporate responsibility wrongly. For example, from most people’s point of view, if you are a company that hires many employees, then you are benefiting society because you are helping these people to find a job. But how does this action benefit society and the company? It does not make sense to hire five people to do a job that can be done by only one. Where is the efficiency here? So I think it has to do again with what Smith highlighted, define a purpose and try to meet because if you only listen to the public, you may end up accomplishing nothing by inefficiency as what happened with this example.
Failing to identify your purpose may also lead to CSiR, is not it? Maria, in her article, mentioned that the pressure of time could lead firms to be socially irresponsible. She explained that when time passes, the company may think about just finishing specific tasks to survive. I thought if companies have a clear purpose, they will be socially responsible, especially after Keshavde expressed that CSR does not conflict with profitability. However, Maria brought another critical aspect which is the pressure of timing. This means that you may have a clear purpose, but you just chose to focus more on recovering rather than anything else because something happened. What should companies do in this situation? Jim answers this question in his talk. It is about honorable business. Just make sure that with whatever decisions you are making, you do not harm any other parties. Do what is good for you, good for the business, and good for society. If it is hard to maintain all the three together, “Which is normal to happen,” make sure you are not harming anyone.
Moral judgement reasoning and decision making
Learning Diary 3
According to Nole Tichy, in his article entitled “Making Judgment Calls,” Each of us makes thousands of judgment decisions throughout the course of our lives. Some are minor, such as which cereal to buy, while others are major, such as whom to marry. The most critical type of judgment is a moral judgment, in which there is a conflict with our values. In this reflection, I will go deep into various concepts such as moral judgment, decision making, and the influence that leaders make in such topics relying on chapter 7 in a book entitled “The Ethics of Corporate Moral Reasoning, Moral Judgment, and Moral Justification” by Francis Oswald.
Noel, in his article, highlights the importance of a leader’s judgment as it defines an organization’s success or failure. He continues by illustrating that these decisions are not taken by luck. These leaders go through several steps of preparation, evaluation, and execution of their judgments. And these processes differentiate between good leaders and less qualified ones. For instance, if a leader has a brilliant idea to improve a specific task, if they cannot execute it sufficiently, it results in a failed judgment. It does not matter how brilliant the strategy is if it is not executed well in the end. This means that making a judgment is the easiest step, but preparing, evaluating, and executing it are much more complex.
For me, I believe that Francis explained the same concept but with moral judgment. Moral judgment has a lot to do with personal beliefs and values. What is morally wrong for you does not have to bother me. This is the most challenging part regarding it. There is no general umbrella that we can generalize moral behaviors under. What can we do? It has to do with the team or people. As Noel mentioned, if a leader has a team who shares the same goal as their leader, they may be able to evaluate situations critically and make well-supported judgments. It is the same with moral judgment. If the team has similar values and mindsets, it would not be difficult to agree on certain moral behaviors. “Of course, there will be conflicts, but not that much.”
Why is it necessary to make moral judgments? Like Noel highlighted, the quality of assessments differentiates between leaders’ abilities; moral judgment also has a positive impact. At and individual level, moral judgment prevents employees from committing any unethical decisions, as they continually evaluate and judge the work they are involved in. In addition to that, from the corporate level, it prevents them from getting involved in any business scandal like what we saw with Volkswagen. We always make decisions in different situations, and these decisions shape both our present and future. When it comes to moral judgment, it is one of the decisions that we take, but this time it does not affect only us but people around us, whether firms or other individuals, so we have to be more critical with this unique type of decision.
The role of organizational culture and leadership
Learning Diary 6
Corporates have a cultural role in their decision-making processes and towards their staff. They have to evaluate their decisions critically to make sure that they are helping people and having a straightforward workflow that benefits them. This means that the role of any organization is crucial. Not only do organizations have a critical role to play, but also leaders and employees. It requires a lot to behave ethically and rationally in an organization, especially if it is corrupted. And most importantly, what does it take to build an ethical organization? In this reflection, I will go through all of these topics relying on various sources such as “Facebook’s Broken Vows by Jill Lepore,” “Google Turmoil Exposes Cracks Long in Making for Top AI Watchdog by Nico Grant,” “Can a leader of moral character survive and do good in a corrupt organization? by Paul Hirsch”, and “How to Design an Ethical Organization by Nicholas Epley.”
What is the role of organizational culture? Organizational culture aids in the improvement of workflows and the direction of decision-making. It also aids teams in overcoming ambiguity barriers. It is about people having a defined culture that unifies employees to work together with a known purpose. For example, Facebook had a clear mission statement to build a better and connected world for everyone, and the company started executing this mission. Is this enough? The answer is no, as it turned out that the company faced many accusations that a massive amount of misleading data harms users. President Biden said that misinformation about covid-19 on Facebook “is killing people,” according to Jill. What Facebook tried to promote has received the opposite entirely. They said that they wanted to help people, but they harmed them.
In addition to that, Nico gave a similar example of Facebook but with google. Google wanted to conduct ethical AI research to test the decisions that are made by their advanced technology. They found that there must be room for biases in the data used to train AI models and the programmers. According to Nico, they discovered that these programmers were incorporating inequities into the DNA of products already in use for mainstream decision-making in areas such as parole and sentencing, loans and mortgages, and facial recognition. Again, as what happened with Facebook, Google wanted to help the world with AI technology to enhance decision-making, but it ended up deceiving people with biased decisions. These two examples of the two companies made me think. Is good intention enough? From “the role of organizational culture” point of view, they had a clear goal, workflow, people inside the firms knew the purpose of what they were working on, and they might have a positive team dynamic. However, they were missing something. The public’s opinion did not reflect that harmony in both companies, and they accused them instead. Therefore, the role of organizational culture is really unique, but it has to be combined with the public’s perception. How can these firms do such a thing?
This question moves us to the second part, which is the following: what do employees or leaders have to do when they notice they are exposed to an unethical issue? In a parallel world, they just have to report these issues, and the company should react. But what if the company knows they are doing something wrong, but they choose not to respond? Referring to Google’s example, the company could decide not to do anything with the defects that they found in their AI technology because they are afraid of losing their reputation. “I’m just assuming.” In this case, what should employees do? Paul, in his article, referred to this dilemma by introducing different models. One model supports the idea of running and hiding. So, suppose you are in this hypothetical example of Google that I gave. In that case, you should try to avoid not working on the tasks that you see them ethically inappropriate, but not with clearly refusing them but through hiding and running from working on them. Other models support the idea of reporting to the people above you in the management hierarchy, and others say you have to start convincing the company not to do what you see as unethical otherwise, you will go for severe consequences against them. Personally, I think that making propaganda is not always the solution. They may just fire you and accuse you that you want to attack the company’s image for some personal interests. Instead, I think that if you can just avoid working on the tasks that do not match your values while trying to approach people around who have similar values and can make a decision regarding this corruption, and you always have the option of quitting.
How should companies avoid all of this? They just have to design an ethical organization. According to Nicholas, the pillar of an ethical culture starts when the firm thinks about ethics not simply as a belief problem but also as a design problem. I believe that it would make much difference when people start thinking about ethics as a tool through which they can design problems to avoid. Most people correlate ethics with problems. However, I do not have to behave ethically when a problem occurs! Ethics is a way of thinking to avoid problems more than dealing with them.
Whistleblowing, fraud and transparency
Learning Diary 7
Reporting something you think is inappropriate needs courage. In general, some people find it difficult to report or say ‘no’ to things that make them feel uncomfortable. And when it comes to the business environment, whistleblowing or a change should come from inside the company itself to be trusted. Do individuals have a moral obligation to report such an action? What if it is personal? Do they still have to report? I will reflect on all these inquiries and questions relying on several sources: “Cultivating Everyday Courage The right way to speak truth to power by James R. Detert,” “Do Your Employees Feel Safe Reporting Abuse and Discrimination? by Lily Zheng”.
James, in his article, raised an incredible discussion. He emphasized that courage is required in many aspects of life, not just when confronting a manager. However, you must first test the concept in a minor setting before following it in a more severe one as anything you learn in life. You can practice courage with someone you already know by criticizing a behavior you don’t like from him, and if you’ve mastered it in that scope, you can progress to a more challenging level. I think this is one of the most critical reasons that people are afraid of reporting any cases in the workplace. It is not only about being fearful of losing their jobs but also about their personalities.
What other factors rather than personalities prevent people from reporting inappropriate behaviors in the workplace? In their articles, both authors James and Lily agreed on the following: people may feel unsafe at work and hence refrain from speaking up, resulting in systematic inequity in the workplace. Employees who are subjected to racism, discrimination, or harassment at work are marginalized or punished further. Another theory is that the victim sees little benefit in reporting a crime on the first occasion, so employers must encourage their employees to file complaints. But, what about the moral obligation? I believe that these people have a moral obligation to report such cases, but it is not fair for them to do so unless the company encourages these actions. We are now talking about people who are afraid of being judged, and these fears may be based on personal backgrounds. Therefore, I do not blame them for the concept of “moral obligation.”
Corporates should facilitate procedures for those people to report such an action. Again, James and Lily agreed on standard techniques for a firm to encourage its employees to report any violation or unethical behaviors in their articles. This can be done through the following: the company must make sure that the top people at the company are committed to returning any rights for those who have been harmed or discriminated against inside the workplace, and any case should be submitted through anonymous channels. These techniques work, but it needs time. When firms try to integrate these tools in their work environment, some corporates do not see people encouraged to talk. Allow people time, and do not wait for them to express what is going on; make it happen naturally.
Bullying, harassment and discrimination
Learning Diary 7
Bullying, harassment, and discrimination do exist everywhere, not only in the workforce. In the last learning diary, I talked about the type of actions that corporates have to follow to create a safe environment for their employees (LD 9). In order to not repeat myself and to tackle another exciting angle of this topic, I will focus more on reflecting on the following question: do well-established corporates make it harder for their employees to report any kind of discrimination, harassment, or bullying? I will rely on two sources: “A former Google engineer said she endured a year of harassment. She’s now vowing to ‘never love a job again.’: by Tyler Sonnemaker”, and “Amazon hires outside investigators after employee petition alleges discrimination and harassment by Sara Ashely.”
Tyler, in his article, talked about a former Google engineer called Nietfeld. He quoted that Nietfeld said that one of her male managers had harassed her for over a year, calling her “beautiful,” “lovely,” and “my queen,” and that Google’s reputation made it even more challenging to speak up. “Anything I said about his behavior challenged the fiction we told ourselves about how great Google was,” Nietfeld wrote, adding, “Google was the Garden of Eden; I lived in fear of being cast out.” Sara, in her article, gave another example but with Amazon. She illustrated how Amazon had to hire outside investigators after an employee petition alleges discrimination and harassment. In addition, many articles discussed how workers in amazon were complaining that they worked for too many hours with few breaks and had to walk for a long distance from one warehouse to another.
These two examples may tell that companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook make it hard for their employees to report any inappropriate situations that they are exposed to. The public sees these companies as a dream for anyone to work for, so how come any employee complains about their lives there! I think the problem is not with the company, but with the public! Outsiders are the ones who made someone like Nietfeld leave her job because she is done with the idea of her manager harassing her. What did people say when they heard about the workers in Amazon and their calls? They did nothing because it is Amazon! Of course, the company has a moral obligation to handle such cases, but when they notice that the public opinion is not against them, they may choose not to react “even if it is unethical.” People have to start changing their views about these big companies, and they have to know that they can face any kind of discrimination there as what happened with the case that I mentioned (Nietfeld!). Discrimination does exist everywhere, and these companies are just companies!
Business ethics and the natural environment
Business ethics in the MENA region
(But don’t talk about the mena region only ethics and natural environment)
Learning Diary 9
Protecting our natural resources is the responsibility of businesses that supply goods and services. Pollution, the threat of plant, animal, and human extinction, global warming, deforestation, and animal rights are only a few of the significant ethical issues. So, how do the companies affect the natural world? And most importantly, what are the actions that can be done inside these corporations to protect our planet? How is the situation in the MENA region, and what to do about it? All these questions will be addressed in this reflection relying on the following sources: Kirsten Anderberg in her article entitled “Ethics, Diversity & Corporate Culture,” ActionForCleanAir Organization in one of its articles entitled “How Business Activity causes Air Pollution,” Dianna Smith in her article entitled “IAQ for Businesses: 4 Ways Air Pollution Limits Your Profitability”, Aisha Al-Sarihi in her article entitled “Key environmental challenges facing the Middle East,” and TradeArabia news in one of its articles entitled “Middle East ‘set to spearhead transition to ESG compliance.”
Mos companies, in different industries, do harm the natural world. According to ActionForCleanAir Organization, it is obvious that some industries must act quickly, with energy consumption, corporations accounting for 56 percent of the Nitrogen Oxides pollution, which irritates airways and increases symptoms in people with lung and heart diseases. Over 50% of the volatile organic chemicals that irritate people’s airways, create ozone, and contribute to climate change are produced by industry, particularly FMCG (Fast-moving consumer goods) and agriculture. For me, I thought Oil and Gas companies were the only ones who harm the planet, but it is not the case. According to the above data, all the different kinds of industries contribute to this harm. The product’s bottles that cannot be recycled take 450 years (According to an Australian Organization) to be completely degraded! These statistics are scary, and it does say a lot regarding the different types of pollution that our planet is witnessing. Of course, we cannot blame companies alone because we (as consumers) have a role to play, but I will focus more in this article on what can be done from the corporate level.
Talking about ethics is not enough. Corporates have to understand that it is not only an ethical dilemma that we want to solve but the planet that people are living on! Therefore, making the companies aware of the severe consequences that we are facing and we will face may encourage them to be more economically sufficient (besides the ethics part). For example, according to Dianna in her article entitled “IAQ for Businesses: 4 Ways Air Pollution Limits Your Profitability”, she explained that when companies pollute the air with their production process, the consequences of the air pollution affect the company again. To explain this more, fine dust causes brain inflammation that takes time to heal, especially if exposed for more extended periods of time. Meanwhile, the affected employees’ job capabilities would be harmed as they struggle to concentrate. Companies do not realize that people who got affected are their employees! So, I think that if we make the company understand the bigger picture that everyone is harmed in such a way, they may think twice about their actions towards the planet.
What is the situation in the MENA region? Aisha in her article entitled “Key environmental challenges facing the Middle East,”, explained that the Middle East is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change, particularly as temperatures rise and water shortage increases. According to the World Resource Institute’s Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas, the Middle East is the most water-stressed region on Earth, with only 1% of the world’s total renewable freshwater supplies. Rising temperatures and long periods of droughts, combined with increasing populations, and socioeconomic development, are putting further strain on limited water supplies, posing significant hazards to economic stability and human security. Now, let’s analyze one example in detail to understand the situation more. According to OECD data, the global building stock is anticipated to double by 2050 as more people move to cities. According to Savills, temperatures in the MENA region are expected to rise by an average of 4°C by 2050. But what do companies have to do with this? It seems like it is about construction and building so that companies can be more innovative.
For example, technology and the rise of “smart” buildings will increase energy efficiency and performance while improving customer satisfaction. The two largest economies, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, are now in the lead for such projects. These two countries knew that they could encourage companies to do something regarding the (anticipated increase in temperature of 4°C by 2050). “How? They can apply some tax reduction on these companies in the beginning to encourage them.” In the beginning, I did not get the direct correlation between the corporates and climate change, for instance. I thought it was only solving the situation when it occurs. Now, I know that it is about anticipating and knowing what is going on. To react now, corporations need to understand the forecasted data about the increase in temperature in the coming years! In addition to the anticipation part, companies also have to be innovative to avoid any harm. They also have to know that they will be harmed if anything happens. By this, we can connect business ethics and the natural world not only in the MENA region but also for the entire planet.
Business ethics, war and conflict
Learning Diary 8
Wars and conflicts are everywhere around the world. When I say wars, I do mean not only the ones between different countries but also the civil wars that occur inside one nation. It is hard to say whether companies should operate during wars and conflicts or not. In my opinion, whatever decisions that a company makes, they will be judged. For example, suppose they operate in a war zone “country” to help citizens get some service. In that case, people may say that this company is taking advantage of the war situation by operating there. So, we can return to the first readings that we had in this class with the definition of ethics and moral behaviors, which highlighted the concept of intentions. It is about your intention behind your action to cut a long story short. For instance, when Vodafone Egypt, back in 2011, refused the idea of releasing its client’s data to the government, people were happy with the loyalty that Vodafone showed “even if the government took the take in the end. But what if the company did that to show off and gain more customers? What if the data the government wants to take is for actual criminals who put innocent people’s lives in danger? Is it now more ethically appealing after knowing such a piece of information? If not, when exactly can we till that it is ethically acceptable? It is hard to tell what is ethical and what is not when it comes to wars and conflicts. To illustrate it more, I will analyze an article entitled “America’s moral responsibility for the tragedy unfolding in Afghanistan” by Michael Blake.
Michael Blake highlighted the chaotic scenes in Kabul that accompanied the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan. Following President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw the remaining U.S. soldiers from the country, the hardline Islamic group could reclaim power. For the public, they may wonder: what is wrong with the withdrawal? The U.S. soldiers had no right to be in Afghanistan, it is not their land, so it is good that they finally gave the land to its owners, “citizens.”? To analyze such a situation, let’s look at the following questions: Was the United States justified in withdrawing its troops? Did they know the consequences that Afghanistan has witnessed before taking such an action? Did the United States have the freedom to decide during that particular time? I see the withdrawal as an unethical decision to be made. I disagreed when the U.S. put their soldiers in Afghanistan in the beginning, “but this is not the scope of my discussion.” So, they had a moral responsibility to fix what they did. When they want to leave Afghanistan, they have to make sure that there is no harm for the citizens. We saw in the news when people in Afghanistan were terrified of the Taliban group ” because of their terrorist acts,” and they would do anything to leave the country escaping to the U.S. “the country that was putting its power on them!” I do not blame the citizens here because they had to choose the best option from the list of two terrible choices “Taliban or the U.S. occupation.”
However, from an ethical point of view and moral responsibility, the U.S has to justify the reason behind its withdrawal! They also have to make sure that the citizens will be safe after they leave the country and compensate them for any damage caused! It is essential to understand that we are still talking about businesses here, but with countries instead of corporates, did the U.S make such a decision to prove Afghanistan was much safer under their power to the world? Who knows? We still can ask the same question with Vodafone Egypt, and the Egyptian government.
Ethics and healthcare
Learning Diary 10
PS: in this LD, I will rely on both the talk by Dr. Dina to build my argument and the readings. This is not an extra LD. It’s the LD for week 14.
In this reflection, I would like to discuss some points that Dr. Dina Omar highlighted in her talk when she discussed biomedical ethics and ethics of care, in addition to some points presented in the assigned readings. She emphasized that, in the medical sector, all patients should be treated equally. It does not matter if they serve a prestigious man or an ordinary worker. What matters is the medical condition. This is the only factor that they rely on. However, it is not that easy! For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we witnessed different scenarios in different hospitals. Some doctors say they will serve older people first because youth are more vital to compete with such a virus. Others said they should invest more in youth because their survival rate is much higher than older people. During the talk, these questions were raised, and Dr. Dina replied that she would serve urgent conditions that possibly would survive. It is a tough decision to be made. I could not imagine myself in their shoes. However, I agree with what Dr. Dina said. When doctors have limited sources, they have to allocate sufficiently. Therefore, this analysis that Dr. Dina noted is the best to go for. But the question is, how do we know that the doctor can make the analysis precisely? As I mentioned in LD 11 biases, do exist in our decision-making. Thus, it is essential to have a guideline to evaluate the conditions accordingly. But we have to understand that this guideline is not enough, and the more doctors analyze situations, the newer decisions they will take, and they may add these recent decisions later on to the guidelines. So, it is a journey of updating this guideline!
To build on this example more, in her article entitled “How are companies responding to the coronavirus crisis?” Katie Clift explained that GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Sanofi, two of the world’s largest vaccine companies, are working together on a COVID-19 vaccine. The pharma giants hope to bring a medication to market within the next 12 to 18 months. However, which market are they talking about? Will they distribute this vaccine fairly to the whole world’s countries? They have, too! But let’s see what will happen.
In addition to that, another point that I want to highlight in this topic is the difference between biomedical ethics and country regulations and laws. At the end of Dr. Dina’s talk, I asked her the following question: “What is your opinion from a biomedical point of view regarding mercy killing?” Her answer was brilliant. She said she is okay with it as long as it meets some criteria; they must ensure it is not a suicide attempt. However, she mentioned that it is not illegal in Egypt. For Dr. Dina, she is okay to do such an action, but she respects the country’s regulations “Egypt” that she is working in. It is crucial to understand that difference and respect the country’s regulations that you are working in, even if it contradicts some of your ethical beliefs. And, if it is hard for you to adjust, leave and go for a nation that supports what you believe in!