Saturday, November 11, 2017

Exxon Mobil Misleading the Public (2017)


Exxon Mobil is one of the largest oil and gas companies in the world. What has recently been leaked is their knowledge of the risks of what fossil fuels do to the environment and the economy. This information was brought forward by some of Exxon’s own employees. 
Exxon Mobil Headquarters in Texas.
The lawsuit states that the company participated in certain studies having to do with climate change which they decided to hide from the public. A lawsuit was filed against them because they believe the statements Exxon made will affect shares they bought as a part of their company-sponsored savings plan. In addition to being sued by their own employees, New York and Massachusetts are also suing Exxon. Exxon Mobil was aware of the link between fossil fuels and climate change since the 1970's. While knowing about this effect, they came out with a commercial lying about the link between the two, deliberately misleading the public and investors. The initial hearings for this lawsuit took place in Texas which just so happens to be where Exxon Mobil is based out of. The judge ended up siding with them which caused speculation. Due to this, the case was transferred to a United States Supreme court in New York.


There are many stakeholders involved in Exxon Mobil's controversy. Stakeholders include employees, shareholders, communities, and customers. Employees and shareholders are involved because they put their money behind Exxon through shares, trusting them as a company. Communities and customers are involved as well because the study showed fossil fuel emissions contribute to climate change all over the world, not just in one area. This affects everyone because climate change is significantly changing our environments we live in. Shareholders in Exxon’s stock took a vote toward the end of May 2017 that was related to this case. The vote tallied 62 percent of shareholders agree that annually, Exxon Mobil should produce a report that explains the impacts of climate change on its fossil fuels business.
Fossil fuels being emitted into the atmosphere.


Individualists view on business is as follows, " the only goal of business is to profit so the only obligation that the business person has is to maximize the profit for the owner or the stockholders." This Exxon Mobil issue would first be looked at as something good from an Individualist point of view. While the company is misleading the public, they are still making a profit and bringing in money for the stakeholders. In a long-term sense of this problem, they are actually doing a disservice to the stakeholders, which would then be against the individualist's theory.


In the Kantian ethical theory, issues are evaluated by the actions coming from goodwill or not. A Kantian would evaluate Exxon Mobil as not doing the right thing because they deliberately did not share information with the public. They did not want it to hurt their business and they knew is they shared it that it would. There are four parts to Kant’s theory. The first part is, act rationally and do not act inconsistently or consider yourself exempt from the rules. Second, allow and help people to make rational decisions. Third, respect people, and individual needs and differences. Lastly, be motivated by good will. Exxon Mobil was not acting rationally by withholding important information from the public about the studies on fossil fuel emissions and global warming. By withholding this information, they were not allowing people to make their own rational decisions about whether or not to use fossil fuels or find an alternative. In this case, Exxon Mobil did not seek to do what was right and was motivated by their profits when they should have been motivated by their good will.


Showing Exxon's profit and global warming simultaneously on the rise.
Utilitarianism is an ethical theory which measures what is right and wrong by measuring the overall good for the greatest number of people. This case would be viewed as unethical because Exxon Mobil ignored what the studies showed and hid it from the public. The studies showed what fossil fuel emissions caused climate change. Climate change affects anything and everyone from animals and plants to people and where they live.


There are four main virtues of business, courage, honesty, temperance, and justice. The function of Exxon Mobil misleading the public was so they wouldn't lose business. This act by the company disregards all four business virtues. They lack courage because they were not willing to take a risk and potentially lose business by sharing information about fossil fuels. They were not honest with their customers or employees because the information from the study was hidden from them. The circumstances of Exxon Mobil's actions are putting the whole world in danger of climate change and global warming, which shows a lack of justice.

Flitter, Emily. “New York Prosecutor Says Exxon Misled Investors on Climate Change.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 2 June 2017,
Hasemyer, David, and Nicholas  Nicholas Kusnetz. “Exxon's Opposition to Climate Fraud Probes Gets Less Sympathy from NY Judge.” InsideClimate News, Business and Accountability Inside Climate News, 1 May 2017,
Lavelle, Marianne. “Exxon Shareholders Approve Climate Resolution: 62% Call for Disclosure in Landmark Vote.” InsideClimate News, Business and Accountability inside Climate News, 1 June 2017,
“Learn about ExxonMobil's Stakeholders.” ExxonMobil, ExxonMobil,
Oreskes, Geoffrey Supran And Naomi. “What Exxon Mobil Didn’t Say About Climate Change.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 22 Aug. 2017,

1 comment:

  1. Hannah,

    This is a really interesting lawsuit especially because they lied about it since the 1970's it brings it up even more. I really enjoyed the paragraph on katianism. I like how you explained the four parts and incorporated the lawsuit into it. Over all well done! The only thing i would do is indent at the start of each paragraph. Over all well done!