Utilitarian Analysis Of The Nestle Infant Milk Formula Case Term Paper

Length: 4 pages Sources: 1+ Subject: Black Studies - Philosophy Type: Term Paper Paper: #71961692 Related Topics: Categorical Imperative, Breastfeeding, Respect, Anatomy
Excerpt from Term Paper :

¶ … Nestle infant milk formula case, in the moral tradition of Kant's categorical imperative. Firstly, I will outline the facts surrounding the Nestle infant milk formula case, and then give a brief definition and description of the categorical imperative. Finally, I will use three main criteria to determine if Nestle's actions in the infant milk formula case can be considered moral, according to the categorical imperative.

Before beginning the analysis of the Nestle infant milk formula case, in the tradition of the categorical imperative, I will first outline some of the facts around the Nestle infant milk formula case. The Nestle infant milk formula case refers to the events surrounding a well-publicized boycott of Nestle in the 1970s and 1980s. In that time, consumer advocacy groups rigorously criticized Nestle's marketing strategies in third world countries.

The charges ethical against Nestle were myriad, and serious. Baby formula manufacturers bribed doctors, nurses and other health care providers to discourage women from breastfeeding, and encourage them to use Nestle's artificial infant milk formula. Nestle (and other manufacturers) launched huge, expensive marketing campaigns to convince women that infant formula was modern and sterile, and far superior to the cultural norm of extended breastfeeding. In hospitals, women were given a limited supply of free infant formula. When the formula ran out, the baby refused to breastfeed, and the mother's milk was reduced. Often, the family could not afford more infant formula. The WHO argues that Nestle's practices, compounded by unsanitary water and sanitation, played a large role in...


The television show 60 minutes featured a story, and there was a well-publicized libel trial. After serious public pressure, a worldwide boycott was launched in 1977. Consumers worldwide refused to purchase Nestle's products. The International Code on the Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes was created to stop further actions like Nestle's marketing campaigns. The Nestle Boycott was launched again in 1988.

First, before beginning an analysis of the Nestle Infant Milk formula case, in terms of the categorical imperative, it is instructive to have a working definition of the categorical imperative. A Dictionary of Philosophical Terms and Names defines the categorical imperative as:

"In the moral philosophy of Kant a distinction between ways in which the will may be obliged. A hypothetical imperative (of the form, "If you want X, then do A.") is always conditioned on something else, but a categorical imperative (of the form "Do A.") is absolute and universal. Moral action for Kant always follows from the categorical imperative, "Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it become a universal law."

To Kant, morality was based in doing ones duty, and following a concrete set of moral laws. The categoricl imperative argues that moral duty must be obeyed regardless of individual self-interest (Rossvaer; Paton).

In practice, to be considered moral, according to Kant's categorical imperative, an action must fulfill several criteria. Firstly, the action being judged must be universally applicable. Secondly the action being judged must respect the dinity of persons. Thirdly, the action must be acceptable to rational people (Kant, 1993).

I will attempt to determine if the actions of Nestle were moral, using the categorical imperative to analyse Nestle's actions. Was Nestle's action universally applicable? This is an interesting question.

Before I answer those questions, I will examine some of the potential considerations that led to Nestle's decision to pursue their particular marketing campaign in third world countries. Certainly, every corporation has the goal of making a profit, so this was likely one of Nestle's prime considerations. It would certainly be profitable to sell infant formula to the huge third world market.

Further (and this is a highly contestable position) Nestle may have…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

A Dictionary of Philosophical Terms and Names.Garth Kemerling. © 1997-2001. 27 February

2002. http://www.philosophypages.com/dy/c.htm#catimp.

Dobbing, J. Infant feeding: Anatomy of a controversy, 1973-1984. London: Springer, 1988.

Rossvaer, V. Kant's moral philosophy: An interpretation of the categorical imperative. Oslo:

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