Who Made Your iPhone
Who Made Your iPhone?
Connie Guglielmo, a reporter for Bloomberg news services, begins an article on Apple this way: “Apple Inc. said three of its suppliers hired 11 underage workers to help build the iPhone, iPod and Macintosh computer last year, a violation it uncovered as part of its onsite audit of 102 factories.” 
Her story adds details. The underage workers were fifteen in places where the minimum legal age for employment is sixteen. She wasn’t able to discover the specific countries, but learned the infractions occurred in one or more of the following: China, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, the Czech Republic, and the Philippines.
Following the discovery, the employees were released, and disciplinary action was taken against a number of the foreign suppliers. In one case, Apple stopped contracting with the company entirely.
The story closes with this: “Apple rose $2.62 to $204.62 yesterday in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares more than doubled last year.”
1.The ethical question is whether Apple ought to contract (through suppliers) fifteen-year-olds to work on factory floors. Is the fact that the stock price has been zooming up a pertinent fact, or does it not affect the ethics? Explain.
2. From the information given and reasonable assumptions about these factories and the living conditions of people working inside them, sketch an ethical argument against Apple enforcing the age workplace rule. What fundamental values underwrite the argument?
3. From the information given and reasonable assumptions about these factories and the living conditions of people working inside them, sketch an argument in favor of Apple enforcing the age workplace rule. What fundamental values underwrite the argument?
4. Within the context of the Apple situation, what’s the difference between making a decision in terms of the law and in terms of ethics?
5. Assume that in the countries where fifteen-year-olds were working, it’s customary for children even younger to earn an adult-type living.
◦What is an advantage of following the local customs when making economic decisions like the one confronting Apple?
◦Does the custom of employing young workers in some countries change your ethical consideration of the practice in those places? Why or why not?
6. Attributing responsibility—blaming another for doing wrong—requires that the following conditions hold:
◦The person is able to understand right and wrong.
◦The person acts to cause (or fails to act to prevent) a wrong.
◦The person acts knowing what they’re doing.
◦The person acts from their own free will.
Assuming it’s unethical for fifteen-year-olds to work factory shifts making iPhones, who bears responsibility for the wrong?
◦Do the fifteen-year-olds bear some responsibility? Explain.
◦Does Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple? Explain.
◦Are shareholders guilty? Explain.
◦Do people who use iPhones bear responsibility? Explain.
Who Made Your iPhone Who Made Your iPhone? Connie Guglielmo, a reporter for Bloomberg news services, begins an article on Apple this way: “Apple […]