When faced with two clashing obligations, a good approach is to apply different methods to try and satisfy the needs for both of them. While it is not always likely to please both ethical requirements in their native form, it is possible to meet them in the middle and satisfy them in a reformed way. Although this seems impossible because both decisions are at its utmost perfect form, and one has to decide between one or the other, there is still room to get creative and balance the decision to where both are satisfied.
This is where finding the creative middle way becomes a really good method to utilize for resolving an issue when there is a struggle of agreements conflicting two or more reasonable decisions that appears to clash.
Even though this method requires all party to compromise, when that agreement is reached, it will not only benefit the decision maker but also the people that will be affected by the decision itself.
The BP Deepwater Horizon explosion is definitely an unfortunate event that could have been prevented if the three BP managers were to compromise at a moral decision. They “were indicted for their roles in operating the rig and for misrepresenting facts to Congress” (Lustgarten). These men saw indications that there were gas flowing into the Macondo well and chose to ignore the results. Obama stated that “this oil spill is the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced” (Reuters). The fact that they lacked in both internal and external regulations within the organization as well as unethical management philosophy that leaned towards cost reduction and taking risks led to the explosion that not only took precious lives of loved ones, but also thousands of animals.
Throughout the investigation of the explosion, the commission founded that the “blowout at BP’s Macondo well was not inevitable, but rather a failure of management in which officials from all three firms ignored critical warning signs and failed to take precautions that might have delayed the completion of the well but also might have averted the environmental disaster” (Mufson). The whole dilemma with the BP oil spill to start with is when everyone within the BP Board of Management leaned toward one decision. The decision was to whether save on the production and profitability or to protect their employees and put safety first. There was a lot of ethical issue within this oil spill also that led to the explosion.
The management were aware of the known risk but disregarded the negative test results due to the fact that it would cost them more time and money to recall the machinery. Not only so, they lacked in compliance and risk management for safety standards and adequate practice within the industry. The decision made by the directors was extremely selfish and self-beneficial instead of looking out for their organization and employees. They only wanted to profit from this project and tried as much as they can to save all the money that they could in order to benefit themselves. When the decision was made, no one looked at the consequences of how the Deepwater Horizon could possibly explode. They did not account for the losses and compensation for the affected areas as well as the cost to clean up and revive the environment because of the oil spill.
They didn’t consider how it would affect the reputation of the company if something does go wrong, which it did. Instead of the BP Board of Management being as selfish as they were, they could have compromised in a way where they would still be benefitted, although not as much as they anticipated, but would have prevented the explosion from happening. The management could have taken all accounts into consideration and formulated a creative middle way. In order to create the compromise for the possible creative middle ways, all of the stakeholders should have been identified and put into consideration for what would happen if each decision was made. This is to make sure that the conflicting point of views will all factor into the creative middle way. Both views should be respected to the fullest extent possible, without weighing both side unfairly.
This process requires good judgements by looking at both sides of the conflict and everyone to keep an open mind while continuously communicating between all parties to reach a creative middle way. While coming up with a creative middle way idea, there are two extremes that must be avoided in order to be successful. The first one is moral laxism. Moral laxism is when an engineer abandons the ethical and professional considerations because “all the moral principles cannot be strictly applied” (Harris) in which case can lead them to making choices that violates moral standards. This means that if there is no good option for the engineer to choose and act in a moral way, then he will just forget all moral concerns and act in a way that would be most fitting with his self-interest. Moral laxism was definitely applied amongst the directors of BP which led to the explosion.
They disregarded the consequences and acted upon what they think will benefit them since they couldn’t make the decision to increase the budget for safety measures. They continued to cut cost whenever given the opportunity and even deceiving the Congress and violating US laws to do so. The second extreme to avoid is moral rigorism, which means that “principles must be strictly applied in every situation” (Harris). In this case, the moral rigorist is unwilling to accept any decision that is not perfect, even if it is the best decision they can make in the situation. The explosion at Deepwater Horizon has a lot of key factors that was overlooked by the organization’s upper management.
Although BP admitted fault in court and has been punished for their actions and is still paying for the penalty today, all this could have been avoided if the directors were conceding with each other. One big trait that every engineer should have is to be open minded because sometimes they do get caught up in the arrogant thought that they are always right, when in fact, they aren’t the only one that could be right. If all of BP’s engineer got through this stage, they can then see everyone’s perspective and not just their own. This actually helps keeps things going when a problem does arise, they can then reference back to constructing a creative middle way and analyze the situation and come up with the solution.
Because BP failed to protect their people from the disaster, they have acted in an unethical way and violated their minimal duty as a company. The creative middle way solution for BP is that they should have implemented a better and more strict safety and risk management regulations while also being transparent with their numbers and tests results. This will help not only to eliminate the conflict of their dysfunctional culture within the organization but also to implement better rules and regulations to make sure that a tragedy like this would not happen again.