This approach provides an extensive basis for making ethical judgments. As the name says, it is based on various theories and concepts that were created by many different philosophers throughout the centuries. The differences in the theories result in various ethical points of view and diverse outcomes from one and the same ethical situation. Therefore the passage of the documentary is analyzed from three perspectives – teleological, deontological and aretaic.
Teleological theories state that consequences of an action are the most important points to consider while deciding whether the action is good or bad. The main principle of this theory is utilitarianism the basic message of this is to act in a way that results in more good than bad. According to this principle the passage from the movie Darvin’s Nightmare will be presented. (Jones, Cardinal ; Hayward, 2006) The first question that comes up is: Does the fish company produce more good or more bad for all different stakeholders, such as employees, fish consumers, fish frames recipients?
For now the company concentrates on profits and on its foreign (mainly European) customers who pay a lot of money to eat the fish processed according to the high foreign standards. The firm provides jobs for many people from the town and by throwing away the fish frames to the rural area it helps people to have jobs and food. This is the positive side of the situation. The negative side is that the employees are paid really low wages and cannot afford buying fish. They even risk their lives and the lives of their families.
Another bad point is that the firm does not provide any standards for the fish frame processing – the delivery truck is dirty, the fish frames are thrown to the mud full of worms and are hanging on the wooden ladders from which birds eat up the fish remainders. This causes famine and illnesses in the rural areas of Tanzania. According to the principle of utilitarianism, even if many people suffer from hunger and illnesses, there is still more good done than bad for everybody. It means that the behavior of the firm is good and acceptable.
What would happen if the firm would provide better standards for fish frames processing and acceptable fish prices for the local community? Having a closer look on the consequences of this change, we can see that it might help the local community in the short term. But in the long term, such a change could harm the fish company by lowering profits, resulting in the loss of its high position in foreign markets and in the worst case scenario in the closing of the firm which is the main job provider for the local community. This would provide more bad than good.
While teleological theories focus on consequences of an action, deontological theories emphasize rules and duties which are the moral, right ways of behavior. One of the main underlying principles to this theory is Kant’s Categorical Imperative which states that the “sense of duty arises from reason or rational nature, an internal source” (Buchholtz & Carroll, 2009). There are three important formulations in this principle. The first one says that a person should act according to a maxim that could become a universal law.
The second one states that an individual should treat each person with respect and should never exploit or manipulate any human being. The third and last formulation states that each person should feel like he/she is the one that creates the universal law. According to this theory, the passage of the documentary can be seen from a different perspective again. In this case, the company management would take into account the moral duty to provide basic standards for transporting and processing fish frames. Helping poor, hungry people could become an important maxim.
Additionally the firm could provide higher wages and treat each employee with more respect. This type of actions would save many innocent lives from suffering, hunger and death. In contrast to the teleological theory, deontology does not look at consequences of actions, which means that even if the company would go bankrupt due to the changes, the management was acting according to the right principles and morals. The third important principles approach theory is the Aretaic theory, which, instead of focusing on consequences or duties, emphasizes the character and moral behavior of a person.
The main principle supporting the Aretaic theory is Virtue Ethics. It concentrates on being rather than doing and tries to answer a question such as: “What sort of person should I be/become? ” (Buchholtz & Carroll, 2009). In the case of the firm and the fish frames process, virtue theory applies mainly to the management of the company. The principle suggests that the virtues guide the actions of management people. Their actions are most probably wise and prudent. Because of this, the firm is prosperous and the people in the rural areas are provided with food and jobs. Ethical Tests Approach
This approach is based on ethical tests that are derived from the experience of many people. Contrary to the previously presented principle approach, ethical tests approach is practical and easier to implement. The passage of the documentary will be analyzed with the help of some of the ethical tests. The basic test is called Test of Common Sense. It asks a question: “Does the action I am getting ready to take really make sense? ” (Buchholtz & Carroll, 2009). In the case of Tanzania, the management should ask itself if supplying the rural areas with only fish frames is the right action.
In this case the answer would be rather yes, because the people get some sort of food. Even if the food is dirty and processed in very bad conditions, management does not have many doubts that it’s a questionable practice due to the fact that in Tanzania accepted norms are much lower from the European ones. Moreover, people have different objectives, in Tanzania a basic goal is to find something to eat whereas in Europe it is to find good quality food. Another test that could be applied in this case is the Test of Making Something Public.
It asks the question: “How would I feel if others knew I was doing this? ” (Buchholtz ; Carroll, 2009). Again this question is addressed to the management who feel quite comfortable with the fact that there is a documentary about its company and the region. For the management, consisting of local people from Tanzania, many actions do not seem very unethical or questionable, because they grew up with their own norms and values. Most probably a manager from a developed country would not allow for such action to take place after asking himself the above written question.
3. 2 The Analysis of different ethical perspectives Global Economy Perspective In our current age of Capitalism, free trade is seen as the best way for countries to exchange goods and services. This idea is based on the concept of Comparative Advantage put forth by David Ricardo. Comparative Advantage theory proposes that trade occurs when a country has a relatively more productive good to offer the global economy. This means that the country can produce goods at a lower opportunity cost as compared to other countries.
The trade linkages created from such trade is used to further enhance the factor endowments of different countries. In this case, technology and machinery is imported from Darusalem in exchange for the natural resources in Tanzania, i. e. the Nile Perch. Tanzanians also benefit from such trade in the form of wages for their labour. There is therefore efficient resource allocation and the meeting of global needs and Europe and Japan gets to savour the Nile Perch at low prices. Such exchanges might seem fair on the outset, but as can be seen in the movie, the real situation is far from ethical.
Richer nations such as Japan get to benefit by offering technology at low marginal cost to them while exploiting the cheap labor and natural resources from Tanzania at huge environmental and social costs to Tanzania. Such costs are hidden from the global consumer simply because they do not think about the way the product gets to their dinner table. The furtherance of free trade through the lack of export tariffs as espoused by the greater nations leave a poor nation such Tanzania in a situation where their wealth is siphoned from them without consequences from the importers.
Foreign direct investments (FDI) into Tanzania improve the local economy by offering jobs, the improving infrastructure, and the transferring of technology. In the long run, the presence of such foreign firms might also lead to the transfer of human capital and skills, enabling it to run local fisheries that will contribute further to the economy. FDI has led to an increase in the GDP of Tanzania to USD $21. 37 billion in 2009 at current prices from a mere USD $9. 70 billion ten years back. The most obvious benefit that the foreign companies bring to Tanzania is the employment that the fishery industry offers to the locals.
One factory alone provides a thousand jobs to the local economy, and improves the lives of those employees who would otherwise be unemployed through the wages that they receive. There are also possible positive externalities on the economy in terms of jobs of supporting companies to the fishery, for example, local transport companies. However, this benefit comes at a high social cost. There is a widening rich-poor divide within the country, which results in social unrest. Despite being the producer of the Nile Perch, locals never get to taste it. As mentioned in the passage above, locals only get to eat off the fish frames of the Perch.
As the rich get richer from selling these prized fish, the locals fight on the streets for morsels of food, often killing for a meal. Infrastructure is another benefit that FDI brings to Tanzania. In order to serve the business, an airstrip was built to ship precious fish cargo out of the country to importing countries. Roads would probably have also been built or improved to serve the transportation need of the fisheries within Tanzania. The actual benefit to the local, however, is questionable. What good would an airstrip do when one cannot even afford a meal?
Planes serve to take wealth out of the country without any revenue returning in terms of tourism. The transfer of technology and skill is another conceivable benefit to the local economy. Businesses can eventually teach locals how to operate the fisheries, enabling them to run their own companies in the future. However, once again, this is not likely. The fisheries would be unlikely to groom managers from the locals because of their lack of education. Also, these businesses would not want possible competition from the locals, and therefore jealously guard their technology, having the locals do only low-level manual labour.
Also, because most Tanzanians are uneducated, they cannot hope to learn much from their foreign employers beyond hands-on skills. This results in exploitation of cheap labour on the part of the fisheries without actual value added into the economy. Without proper regulation, the revenue and benefits from FDI will not be properly channeled to improving the lives of the locals. Poverty is still rampant, the Human Development Index remains below acceptable levels, and average life expectancy is at 55, showing the suffering that the locals go through despite the benefits that the foreign companies claim to bring.
The government of Tanzania would have to step up to make sure that foreign companies uphold labour laws to protect the rights of its citizens. Independent Film-Maker’s perspective From the contents of the film, it is evident that the film was trying to depict the harsh realities in Tanzanian society to bring to light the stark contrast between developing nations and the developed nations, which is the target audience of the film. This helps to evoke the moral consciousness of the audience, and pushes them towards some sort of action to help alleviate the problems of Tanzania, or Africa as a whole.
In this sense, it can be said that Hubert Sauper is doing a service to the peoples of Tanzania. However, it is also evident that his viewpoint is highly biased, showing only scenes of violence, and highly polluted areas of Lake Victoria. From a letter written by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, United Republic of Tanzania proposes some alternate views. It claims that Sauper shows only scenes that depict the poorest regions in Tanzania. Another point raised was the fact that the government was unrepresented in the film, and no interviews were made with them.
It is therefore possible that the film is a misrepresentation of the actual situation on the ground, making the audience see what the director wants to see so as to evoke emotions against the businesses operating in Tanzania. The motives of the film maker is then suspect, and not beyond reproach. 4. Stakeholders and ethical issues The first stakeholder that should be mentioned in this situation is the African community as a whole. Being the primary backdrop of this seemingly booming industry, the African community has a lot at stake in the ethical issues addressed earlier.
One of the primary stakes in this case would be the living conditions in which these people fight for survival. Throughout many scenes in the film, the filmmaker revealed the disparity between the rich (the owners and the foreigners in the conference room) and the poor, these on the lowest rung of the economic ladder. Forget about being noticed if you’re simply poor and hungry, for there are endless streets of the young and the sick who are being ignored by those who have the ability to help.
Despite living in an area that is capable of producing 500 tons of fish a day – an amount that would suffice in feeding two million individuals a day, as the screen informed us – these people are starving. They have nothing to eat, because the Nile Perch has taken away what they used to survive on, and the only remains they have of the Perch are the fish skeletons and heads, and none of the meat that’s being exported to the outside world. It is not only in terms of food that these people are fighting for survival.
The film showed young African children, often physically handicapped one way or another, sniffing glue in an attempt to forget the pains of hunger and misery. Women are forced into prostitution, and, by a cruel twist of fate, could hardly protect themselves due to the local Church. The wretched state of living, with tree branches and plastic sheets making up houses, provided an unfortunate breeding ground for diseases. The prevalence of AIDS in this community is propelled by the Church’s anti-protection preaching, and the consumption of maggot-infested fish skeletons make for a standard of living that the outside would can hardly imagine.
The second major stakeholder in these issues would be none other than the environment. Historically, the environment is the natural provider of resources for survival. By introducing the Nile Perch in the 1960s, Man has destroyed the delicate balance of the ecosystem in the lake. Today, the ecosystem is experiencing a rapid fall in its oxygen level due to the disappearance of the other species that used to live in the lake.
In turn, the Perch has turned to cannibalization, and it has been predicted that with years to come, the Nile Perch will, too, become extinct, bringing an end to the hundreds of years of ecological evolution to an end. The environment’s stake is its very own survival, including all the thousands of species that used to live in the ecosystem. Unfortunately, by now, this whole system has already been eradicated by the Nile Perch. The third stakeholder in this discussion would be the owners of the fisheries in the area. From the economic perspective, they are profiting from this business.
Unlike the rest of the population who live in slumps and worry about their survival, the owners are worrying about their profits and commerce in the comfort of their concrete-walled offices. Their stakes in this matter concern their profits, the business that they, and the rest of the community, are so dependent on, and the reviews of this industry by the European Union Commission. Theoretically speaking, their stake in this perspective reflects the goal of the shareholder approach, which is to maximize profit. From the stakeholder approach, however, the owners have more at stake.
The satisfaction of the fisheries’ various stakeholder groups have to be taken into consideration if the owners want to ensure their continual survival in this business. The owners and their companies have to assume responsibility to ensure that they fulfill their corporate responsibilities not only economically and legally, but also ethically and if possibly, philanthropically. The last is not required, but it would not be a prime concern in this discussion because the main consensus is that the actions of these fisheries are unethical in nature.
Indeed, providing jobs for the unemployed is a huge step in being socially responsible, but there is another factor that needs to be considered – what happens as a consequence of this business? In Darwin’s Nightmare, it is clear that while the companies involved seemed to be fulfilling both the legal as well as economic obligations, it is not scoring favorably in terms of being ethically responsible. The last stakeholder that should be discussed would be the consumer group. The Nile Perch is being reared, captured, and packaged for the consumption of the outside world.
These consumers demand high quality fish for low prices – which is exactly what they are getting. Fundamentally, their stake in this case concerns mainly the product they receive from Tanzania, and that is it. Whether the people in the area where the fish come from are suffering, that is not really within their concern. With the overarching belief in capitalism and widespread consumerism, the Western world simply desires the best for itself. It is the epitome of Darwin’s theory of evolution – the “survival of the fittest”.
The Europeans are the ones controlling the organization, with a significant influence on world trade. What they want, they will almost always get. In this case, they succeed, again, at the expense of the Tanzanian community. 5. Solving the issues Who can contribute to the solving the issues? There are many aspects that need to be considered in order to alleviate the situation at hand. It needs to start from the people with power, who have the resources and the ability to make a change, before the situation can improve for the stakeholders. Education is one of the key issues.
Despite the elimination of primary school tuition fees in 2002 that led to an increase in enrollment of children into primary schools, the situation has not improved any significantly due to various reasons. One of the most significantly criticism of the Tanzanian education system is the average workday hours for educators. According to the U. S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs (2008), teachers are only required to work for less than one and a half hours a day, simply because they do not show up due to a lack of commitment.
This relays into a nonchalant attitude adopted by the students, who simply follow suit. Education can prove to be a powerful tool in informing and schooling the community about what is right and what they are entitled to. Without proper education, many individuals are left unenlightened, loitering around their own communities, and not aspiring for change for either themselves or for their community. While this may be a long shot, the government can play a significant role in incorporating education as a tool to alleviate the situation.
However, it would first depend on the willingness of the Tanzanian government to overlook the economic costs and to realize the long-term benefits of empowering the future of their country, the children, with the necessary skills and education. On the issue of the government, the working conditions of those working outside of the fisheries should also be taken care of by the government’s policies. The story of Raphael, the night watchman at the National Institute of Fishery, highlights an important point about the working conditions of those on the sidelines.
Firstly, these jobs are not safe. Raphael’s predecessor was killed on the job, and Raphael’s tools for defense, as well as attack, are his bow and arrows. Secondly, such jobs pay extremely low wages, evident by his dollar-per-night wage. To improve such working conditions, there needs to be a guideline that forbids companies from paying below minimal wage, and the calculation of the minimal amount should take into consideration the living wage that would be considered acceptable by theory.
The firms in the area can also do their part in alleviating, if not solving, the issues at hand. By adopting a more stakeholder approach rather than the shareholder approach perspective, firms can benefit the community by taking the interests of its various stakeholders into considerations when making corporate decisions. Indeed, the primary purpose of a firm is to make economic profit to satisfy its primary stakeholders, who are its shareholders, but evidently, these firms also need to consider the stakes of the community in which it operates.
For without the support and work of the members of the community due to deteriorating living conditions, the business will have difficulty in continuing operations, and this will inevitably affect the primary economic goal of the firm. To accomplish this, companies will have to be willing to step aside to see what they can do for the community, without compromising the entirety of their economic aim. Even small gestures, such as providing a small percentage of the Perch meat for the community’s most vulnerable members (namely the children, the old and/or the sick) can make a significant difference.
In time to come, firms can even consider working together with the government to build on the community’s infrastructure to increase efficiency as well as improve the standards of living at the same time. On a national scale, the government also needs to change the mindset of its ministers. Evident from the film, the ministers are primarily, or even solely, concerned about the industry, and nothing else. “We are all here for one purpose only, that is, how we can sell our country, sell our lake, and our fish”. In his words, it is clear what the situation is.
To the government, the country is a commodity to be sold to the outside world. The people living in the country are not excluded from this cold-blooded trade, and any negative consequences of these transactions are simply to be ignored lest they hinder the attainment of economic prosperity for those at the very top. When presented with the facts and evidence of the desperate situation amongst which their people are living, the government officials are not concerned, for it does not affect the economic progress.
This needs to be changed before any institutionalized policy can have an effect, for it is the mindset of the government that has caused this situation to arise in the first place. To begin with, the government can start viewing their people not as machines and waste products of their booming economic business, but as people, who, according to the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, have the right to a “standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing, and medical care”i, amongst other rights.
By recognizing their people as fellow humans, the government would be taking its first step towards alleviating these issues. On the global scale, international organizations such as the United Nations and the European Union Commission also have a part to play. There should be a measure put in place to ensure that payment in the form of either cash or other useful necessities is received in return for the fish, and not life-threatening tools such as weapons.
In addition, a possible solution could be for the IMF and the World Bank to reconsider its policies of free trade, economic liberalization and structural reforms by allowing the Tanzanian community to return to self-sufficiency in terms of food cultivation, or to resume the IMF’s food subsidies for the community. This would greatly alleviate the problem of starvation by increasing the amount of food available for the people.