Monday, May 21, 2012

Ethics at Lockheed Martin

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a review of Daniel Terris's Ethics at Work: Creating virtue at an American corporation.The review ends with the following quote that I thought was interesting: Lockheed Martin "helps to make some of the deadliest man-made objects on the face of the earth. To claim that this fact has no ethical implications for the manufacturer is, on the face of it, absurd."  It suggests that ethics is an inherent part, not only of the user of some technology and for the entity who commissioned it, but also for the manufacturer.

I am not completely convinced of this connection, but I am open to being so. After all, once you get past the idea that you are just manufacturing something that was legally and legitimately commissioned  who has all the obligations to properly use whatever it is that you make, what ethical dilemmas can you have relating to this product? Could Lockheed Martin really be culpable for additional deaths on a battlefield, or credited for fewer ones (on either side) because of something it did or failed to do that was part of its contract?

Needs some thought.


  1. All that came to mind when reading this post was a quote from a movie I saw as a kid that I cannot recall; forgive me for stooping to quoting movies on this intellectual blog. However, it was the only thing that came to mind when I read this.

    " sitting in an office giving men orders to kill is the same thing as puttin' a bullet in someone's heart yourself."

  2. I am not sure whether or not I agree with the Sniper quote, but there is something very intuitively appealing about it. After all, we do credit and blame the president for the stuff that happens in war. Obama does get (take?) credit for killing bin Laden, after all. I think there might be an interesting ethics paper involved in really exploring whether or not the quote can stand up to real philosophical rigor.