Residents of Prinsloo vs Oil Refinery: An Ethical Dilemma - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  1020 Words
Date:  2023-01-18

Ethical Dilemma

The ethical dilemma involves the residents of Prinsloo state and the companies in this area. These companies have originated from an oil refinery company which has been recently established in the area. Instead of properly disposing of their waste, these companies are dumping their waste on the surrounding e.g., in rivers, and smoke from these industries is not filtered. As a result, the residents have started having illnesses which are leading to a mortality rate of 10% increase per year. Also, other living organisms have been affected e.g., plants due to the acidic rain in the area (Resnik & Smith 2018). This acidic rain has been caused by gases such as sulphur IV oxide which mixes with rainwater to form acid rain.

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The reason as to why these companies are less concerned with the wellbeing of the residents is that their only goal is to maximize profits. To achieve this, they have to reduce the cost of manufacturing as much as possible. So instead of building septic tanks and fitting scrappers on their chimneys, they decide to expose the waste to the environment as a way of reducing the cost of production. From this, we can see that the companies are not willing to reduce their earnings to fix this issue (Welland 2019).

On the other hand, the residents, if they take the legal stunt as their leader wanted probably, they will be granted their wish. At the expense of this, companies might be forced to reduce the number workers to maintain their profit levels as they extract the cost of proper methods of waste disposal thus causing unemployment to some of the residents. Some of the companies might also decide to close their industries leading to increased unemployment. As a result, crimes such as robbery would increase, leading to insecurity. The livelihood of many residents would also lower due to decreased income levels, for instance, if the refinery is shut down, there will be an increase in the cost of fuel hence the expense of farming would increase leading to the high cost of food. Also, other companies could increase prices for their commodities. Finally, some companies might decide to lower the salaries of their employees while raising the price of their product (Shapiro 2016).

If the pollution problem is solved using the court justice system, both parties will significantly loose. The following are some of how this ethical dilemma can be solved. Using the theory of proportionality, which states that act is moral if engaging in it, you don't will major evil to you or anyone else (Knapp 2015). You only will a minor risk with a proportionate reason, the manager and the community leader can decide to share the cost of pollution by; the community can agree to offer a piece of land to the companies for them to build septic tanks hence preventing the release of waste to the rivers. The companies can be obligated to fund the construction of these treatment plants and directing their waste to them. Solving this problem in this way, the huge loses in both sides could be reduced by cost sharing. The only consequence that could affect the residents by taking such a decision is losing their land. Comparing this decision with the consequence of following the normal justice system, I would conclude say that the risk could have been reducing proportionately.

The golden rule, which states that an act is moral if you treat others the way you would wish to be treated, can be used to solve this problem (Bishop 2014). Controlling pollution, in this case, is obligated only to the companies, which in return could lead to only them having the cost of solving this problem. So to equalize this cost the community and the companies should share the cost by, for instance, contributing an equal amount of funds to facilitate this project. The companies also could consider reducing mortality rates since the managers, too, could wish to die. The advantage of using this rule is that there will be fairness in both parties.

Using the theory of egoism, which states an act is moral if it promotes your long term interests, this problem could be solved by; the residents are taking legal stunt. This is because the worth of human life cannot be measured; therefore forcing these companies to control pollution is worth fighting for. Also, if this problem is not solved, its effects would outdo the benefits the companies are offering to the community. For example, if the weather changes advance, the agricultural sector would decrease its production leading to the increased cost of living. Also, the mortality rate could increase. The residents also could find other ways to survive in case most of them are sucked, such as importing products from other places (Filatotchev & Stahl 2015).

Utilitarianism theory could solve the problem also. This theory states that the act is moral if the ratio of good out does the bad for everyone (Filatotchev & Stahl 2015). For instance, both the companies and the community members can decide to conduct fundraising to get funds that can support pollution control. Making this decision could coat both sides a small amount of cash. The only consequence that will be there is that the resident will be involved in this pollution control, although they are not responsible for the consequences of the companies using short cuts to dispose of their waste. Weighing this consequence of losing a small amount of money with the consequences that pollution control would bring, more good will come from this decision than harm.


Finally, the maximin principle of justice could be used to solve the dilemma. It states that an act is moral if it provides an equal amount of liberty for you and others except when social and economic inequalities exist. In that case, the worst-off from the situation should benefit from the act. The fact some companies are economically stable; therefore, they should cater to all the expenses of the pollution control. The companies that are not stable the residents might decide to help them in disposing of their waste (Bishop 2014).



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Residents of Prinsloo vs Oil Refinery: An Ethical Dilemma - Essay Sample. (2023, Jan 18). Retrieved from

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