1. In the case of NECC, what was the “tangible” and what was the “abstract?” What harms were caused by failing to see the effects of the tangible on the abstract? Explain.
2. Does it make sense to you that people act differently if they can readily envision people who might be adversely affected by their actions because they are close in both temporal and spatial terms? Why or why not?
3. Why do you think Barry Cadden and his employees knowingly produced and distributed unsafe drugs? How might Cadden have rationalized his decisions?
4. Do you think that the NECC employees would have acted as they did had they been compounding drugs for their own family members and/or friends? Explain.
5. If Cadden knew of the effects NECC’s drugs had on people like Rachelle Shuff and Penny Laperriere, do you think his actions would have been different? Why or why not?
6. How could Cadden and his employees have protected themselves from the effects of the tangible and abstract bias on their ethical decision-making? Explain.
7. Should people exercise moral imagination in order to envision more completely people who might not be in their current field of vision but might nonetheless be adversely affected by their actions? How can we go about this? Discuss.
8. To what degree do you think pharmacies have a moral obligation to their customers? How can pharmacies and regulators guard against profit-driven rationalizations that could potentially harm patients? Explain.
9. David Myers, controller for WorldCom, oversaw an accounting fraud aimed at keeping the firm going and its workers employed when it was in desperate straits. According to Soltes, “Myers recalled spending much of his time ‘thinking that you’re helping people and doing the right thing’ instead of thinking about the eventual consequences of his actions. ‘It was just shortsighted by not trying to understand what the true outcome was going to be.’” Does this demonstrate a lack of moral imagination on Myers’ part as well as his succumbing to the adverse influence of the tangible and the abstract?
10. The NECC case demonstrates the pitfalls of several biases and behaviors including rationalizations, framing, obedience to authority, moral muteness, and conformity bias. Can you identify these and other behavioral ethics concepts at work in this case study? Explain and discuss their significance.