James Liang And The Volkswagen Emission Scandal

1314 Words Sep 23rd, 2016 6 Pages
James Liang and the Volkswagen Emission Scandal
An Ethical Examination On September 9, 2016, a veteran engineer of Volkswagen AG by the name of James Robert Liang pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to defraud the government, committing wire fraud, and violating the U.S. Clean Air Act. While working in Germany in 2006, Liang was part of a team charged with producing a new fuel-efficient diesel engine that satisfied new U.S. regulations on vehicle emissions. He and his team eventually came to the conclusion that their engine could not satisfy these new regulations while maintaining consumer expectations of engine performance. Their solution to this dilemma was to implement illegal software (known as a “defeat device”) into newly produced vehicles sold in the U.S. The purpose of this software was to detect any emissions test being performed on a vehicle and alter the results to show cleaner emissions on the onboard computer. Nearly 500,000 vehicles with this defeat device were sold in the U.S.; by 2008, consumers began to experience issues in their vehicles (not knowing it was due to the emission test software), and Liang worked to refine the device even further. The entirety of the scandal eventually came into the public spotlight in 2015 (Guess, 2016, p.1). The subsequent paragraphs of this essay will first discuss Kantian duty ethics and rule utilitarianism, and focus on analyzing the moral implications of Liang’s actions in reference to these moral theories. Kantian…
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