Posted: December 13th, 2016
John Doe is a warehouse supervisor who works for a national company that sells high-quality (and very expensive) electronics – e.g., HD television sets, business and home computers, and business and personal laptops. John has a high school education, and has been employed by the company for 10 years. Recently, John was promoted to an exempt (salaried) low-level management position; his present annual salary is $60,000. Over the past two months, John has been stealing HD television sets from his employer – and reselling them. To date, he has stolen $15,000 in merchandise. When John’s wife – Jane takes note of the rapid growth in the family’s savings account, she asks John about the source of the money. John’s astonished response is: “Jane! Are you kidding? It’s a company bonus….(well, sort of)……look, Jane, while I make better money than I used to, it’s not enough compensation for of the stuff I do. This company can afford to pay me more than what they pay – and they don’t. The way I look at it, I earn this money! It’s a well-deserved – and hard-earned – bonus, Jane. You know that we can barely pay our bills. I’m doing what is best for our family! Speaking deontologically, it’s my duty to do what is best for my family – even if what I’m doing is wrong!”
What are the deontological ethics raised in this situation? Consider this problem from the perspective of John’s duty, Jane’s duty, and the company’s rights.
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