There are many different groups of people who were impacted by the soylent bar recall, these people are usually referred to as “stakeholders.” The first, and most obvious group are the consumers. The people who actually went online and purchased the bars are all being affected. Because Soylent is recalling the bars, people have gotten sick or have had to return their purchased food. The second big group is the company in itself. This puts a big question mark on all of their other products as well. The company and its shareholders may want to evaluate their business model or their scientific testing procedures. Another group involved would be the employees at Soylent. This case may cause some of them to be skeptical of the companies true integrity. Also if the company is in danger, that also means their jobs are in danger. Lastly, the entire meal replacement industry is negatively impacted. Their main objective, as they are a new market, is to sell more people on the idea of the market. But a recall like this can only hurt the outlook for the meal replacement industry.
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According to Utilitarianism, actions are ethical when they promote happiness to all of the stakeholders. The important thing with utilitarians is that they do not value one person's happiness over someone else's. Happiness is the only thing of intrinsic value. Like mentioned before, the main stakeholders in this controversy are the consumers, the business, the employees and the industry. The unique thing about this controversy is that none of them benefited and none of them were happy about it. On the contrary, the stakeholders were mostly furious with the outcome. The consumers are obviously very upset and most of them feel that they were lied to. Additionally, some of the consumers got violently ill due to the Soylent bars. The Soylent business, on the other hand, was also at detriment. They lost profits, market share, reputation and loyal customers. The third shareholders involved were the employees, who are also unhappy with the result. Their jobs came at risk as well as the company's survival. Not to mention that they have to live with the feeling that they failed on a product that made many people sick. Lastly, the industry is not happy about this because they are attempting to grow. With a case like this, more and more people are going to be drawn away from the industry. No happiness was received in this case for any of the stakeholders. This is exactly why a utilitarian would not have agreed with Soylent's actions.
Kantianism is the third of four ethical theories I will use to analyze the case of Soylent Bars. In correspondence to Kantianism, one should act rationally at all times. Also, a Kantian should help people act rationally, respect people, and be motivated by goodwill. For someone to be motivated by goodwill, one must be rational and rightly motivated. Kantians would have a similar reaction of disagreement to Soylent because of the way they were irrational. They were not rational because they did not thoroughly test the product before issuing it to customers. They needed to test the product extensively and also put more resources into research and development. They also did not react rationally because they did not follow the formula for humanity. The statement says that people should act with ends in mind rather than just the means. In the case of Soylent, this means that they should’ve acted with health of the customer in mind, rather than just the economic impacts. When the company issued its new product line they had one thing in mind, to make more money. Soylent exploited their position in the market to push across an unfinished product which is completely unethical in the eyes of a Kantian. They did not have the motivation of goodwill, they were strictly motivated by self-interest and not because it was the right thing to do.
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Souppouris, Aaron. “Soylent Blames Product Recalls on Algae.” Engadget, 9 Nov. 2016, www.engadget.com/2016/11/08/soylent-recall-algal-flour/.
“Soylent Bars Recalled after Dozens of Unconfirmed Illnesses.” Food Safety News, 22 Oct. 2016, www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/10/soylent-food-bars-recalled-after-dozens-of-unconfirmed-illnesses/#.WgYuDltSyM8.
“Soylent Food Bars Make Customers Sick: Reports.” Time, Time, time.com/4529709/soylent-food-bar-recall/.
Soylent. “You'll Never Believe This, But Soylent Is Being Recalled Again.” Grub Street, www.grubstreet.com/2017/04/soylent-recalls-powder-yet-again.html.
Soylentme. “Update on Soylent Bar.” Soylent, 12 Oct. 2016, blog.soylent.com/post/151720602057/update-on-soylent-bar.
Yuhas, Alan. “People Made Sick by Soylent Bars Report 'Gelatinous Substance' on Wrapper.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 13 Oct. 2016, www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/oct/13/soylent-bars-people-sick-meal-replacement.