The movie, ‘Super Size me’ was written, produced, and directed by Morgan Spurlock in 2004 in United States (Morgan, 2005). The documentary film taking around 98 minutes highlights a 30 days period where Spurlock ate food from McDonald’s food. The main emphasis is on the physical and psychological effects of lifestyle many people assume by depending on the fast foods. Fast food businesses in the state encourage poor nutrition, as few people can understand the nutritional value of the foods they consume. Spurlock traverses the country, to examine the healthy and the unhealthy foods in the fast food businesses. The movie besides highlights on the ethical issues related to business management and personal lifestyle.
This model accentuates that ethical principles and judgments are relative to a culture and a person. The theory stipulates norms of an individuals’ culture (Velasquez, Andre, Shanks & Meyer, 2016). Moral norms of the society are therefore the major determinant of whether the action is right or wrong. Therefore, this theory has no universal standards applicable to all groups of people at any particular time. The society therefore will tend to judge its own, since no ethical frameworks in judging and resolving disputes or reaching an ethical agreement exists.
In this case, ethical relativism is applied in the fast foods where the publics are introduced to foods with poor nutritional value at the expense of their health yet the businesses are unwilling to give more information containing their products. The society has accepted the fast foods culture of producing all types of foods with limited knowledge on the content (Morgan, 2005). Every person has the choice of eating according to their preferences in spite of the rule of being informed. Authorities are besides aware of the activities of the businesses but still maintain that it is a personal preference that leads to obesity and not the kind of product in the selected food chain. As a theory that justifies moral practices and beliefs, this theory fails to distinguish that some people and societies uphold better reasons for their practices. This theory is essential as it emphasizes the varied moral beliefs in different societies and that personal beliefs are mainly influenced by culture. It is therefore essential for the public to analyze fundamental beliefs that vary from personal beliefs and evaluate personal reasons for beliefs and values upheld.
Social Contract Theory
This theory seeks to offer an effective framework which managerial and business decisions are made concerning their effect on relative communities, norms and moral standards. The movie highlights the progressive nature of the risk of obesity acquired from relying on fast foods and the effect the fast foods have contributed; focusing on McDonald’s ,an international fast food chain. Without prior standards, obesity surpasses smoking as a major cause of preventable deaths in America (Falaky, 2014). Increased obesity is related to numerous diseases such as hypertension, stroke and asthma. The challenge these diseases cause to personal health are in the public domain yet businesses continue to serve risky foods without offering adequate information concerning the nutritive values.
One may wonder why fast food businesses continue to sprout in the midst of health related complications brought about by fast foods (Morgan, 2005). One of the drivers of the unethical business practice is the company culture that emphasizes on profitability and good business performance instead of ethical behavior in the business. The loyalty in the chain business not only lies in the customers but also among the stakeholders and the executive officers. The top executives are often satisfied with the bottom line increase while the public continue to bear the cost of managing their health (Riley, 2006). Even though the protagonist failed to acquire compensation for detrimental health condition, businesses ought to face penalties for failing to give consumers good information concerning the products. Good business ethics demand that businesses modify their practices and uphold relative ethics. Fast food businesses should besides educate their people on the foods they prepare as a strategy of controlling the damage done to the public. Businesses are likely to lose when faced with accusations on bad ethics and social irresponsibility.
The Theory of Natural Law
Natural law stipulates that some rights and values be inherently by virtue of human nature, which is identifiable by human reason (Douglas, 2006). The law therefore applies reason to analyze social and personal nature to construe rules that bind moral behavior. Related to the law are the writings by Cicero, which deduce that law and justice are products of what man was given by nature and what the human mind embraces. The law emphasizes that people should contribute to the common excellence of the society for the safety of the public. Therefore, the values cultivated are for the sake of personal happiness, which can be promoted by living in perfect union cemented by mutual benefits.
From this law, human beings act to satisfy themselves and generate mutual benefit (Burns, 2000). Production of all kinds of foods in the fast food chains is for mutual benefits as the public acquire an assortment of foods while the food store generate profits. There is therefore no need to question the other as the natural law demand that human beings use their perceptions and thoughts to act. A person taking foods with unknown nutritive content desires to enjoy the delicacy in the food and hence benefits altogether.
Written, produced, and directed by Morgan Spurlock, the movie emphasis on the physical and psychological effects of lifestyle many people assume by depending on the fast foods. Spurlock traversed the country, risking his health for a month to examine the healthy and the unhealthy foods in the fast food businesses. Ethical issues highlighted in the study include social contract theory, ethical relativism and the theory of natural law
Burns, T. (2000). Aquinas’s Two Doctrines of Natural Law. Political Studies. 48 (5): 929–946.
Douglas E. E. (2006). Judicial Review without a Constitution. Polity: Palgrave Macmillan
Journals. 38 (3): 345–368.
Falaky, F. (2014). Social Contract, Masochist Contract: Aesthetics of Freedom and Submission
in Rousseau. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Morgan, S. (2005). Don’t Eat This Book. New York: G.P Putnam Sons.
Riley, P. (2006). The Social Contract and Its Critics: The Cambridge History of Eighteenth-
Century Political Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2006: 347–375.
Velasquez, M. Andre, C. Shanks, T. & Meyer, J. M. (2016). Ethical Relativism. Markkula
Center for Applied Ethics.