|Southwest Airlines; one of the top airlines in the nation|
|Southwest CEO, Gary Kelly|
The concept behind individualism is that a company will do what is in the best interest for making a profit and benefiting their shareholders. In this particular lawsuit, an individual would consider the actions of Southwest to be unethical. Although they raised their air fares to reach the highest amount of profit they have ever produced, they were doing so illegally. Individualist believe that the sole purpose of a business is to make profit while staying in the laws. Since Southwest broke antitrust laws in participated in collusion, they were increasing their profits unethically. Individualist would also say that Southwest has a duty to keep their reputation clean to improve future business, but by doing an illegal action, they put the name of their company in jeopardy.
When looking at this case through the eyes of a Kantian, they would deem Southwest’s actions unethical. Kantianism is all about doing the right thing for the right reasons, acting rationally, and not using people as a mere means to get what you want. By using the power that Southwest and the other three big companies has in the industry, Southwest would be using other companies to get what they want. A Kantian would also say that Southwest was treating humanity as their puppets because no matter what prices they set their air fares as, the customers would be forced in paying due to their dominance in the industry. Southwest was not acting rationally because they were only looking out for how much profit they could make and not on the impact this would have on people. With such high prices, being able to travel becomes an even more luxurious experience that a lot of Americans simply can’t afford. Southwest actions have been disrespectful to humanity by making outrageously expensive prices just to better their profits.
This theory is based off maximizing the overall happiness of all stakeholders. A utilitarian would say that the antitrust lawsuit against Southwest was an unethical business decision. Although a raise in profits will increase the happiness of people that work for Southwest, Delta, United, and American, the raise in air fare is decreasing the happiness of millions of people who wish it was cheaper to fly. Paying a settlement fine is also decreasing the happiness of the company. Since the air travel industry is primarily controlled by these four companies from their profit growth, the smaller airlines companies have no means to grow and therefore their happiness is detained as well.
Virtue Theory is looking at whether an action is morally good and is made with intention of good character. The four virtues that make up morality are courage, honesty, temperance, and justice. The actions of Southwest, Delta, United, and American would be considered unethical under the Virtue Theory. Southwest was not acting courageously. If they had been, they would have stuck up for their customers and turned down proposals to collude with the other three companies. Southwest was not acting honestly because they lied about being in terms with other major companies in the industry. They also didn’t practice temperance in raising the air fares. Instead of keeping reasonable prices and not joining in collusion, they choose to break the law to make some extra profit. Southwest was definitely not just in their actions because they broke the law and made it very expensive to travel. By not following any of the four virtues and not having the intention of good character, Southwest has been unethical under the virtue theory.
Stempel, Jonathan. January 4, 2018. “Refile- Southwest Airlines to pay $15 mln to settle price collusion lawsuit”
Stevens, Matt. January 6, 2018. “Southwest Airlines Settles Suit but Denies Colluding to Keep Ticket Prices High”
Martin, Hugo. January 4, 2018. “Southwest spends $15 million to settle lawsuit alleging collusion among airlines”
Stanley, Chuck. January 2, 2018. “Southwest Inks $15M Deal To Exit Airline Price-Fixing MDL”
Stanley, Chuck. February 12, 2018. “Airline Antitrust MDL Discovery Deadline Pushed to 2019”