Ethical Issues In The Movie The Insider

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The movie The Insider chronicles the life experiences of Dr. Jeffrey Wigand during and after his employment with a major tobacco company. Dr. Wigand started working in the company with a goal of trying to make a cigarette with less health hazards. During his employment and after his termination he was forced into several ethical dilemmas at which point he had to make difficult decisions. Ultimately, Dr. Wigand chose the more moral and ethical path which may have adversely impacted his own interests and may have broken the law. Dr. Wigand worked for the tobacco company Brown and Williamson as a Vice President of Research and Development. He discovered that “the company was enhancing the effect of nicotine by the use of chemical elements”…show more content…
He states in the movie “I could not in conscience continue with Coumarin in a product that we now know was a known lung specific carcinogen” (The Insider). The discovery of the Coumarin in the cigarettes brought his first ethical dilemma. Should he refuse to work with a product that had a carcinogen in it? If he did refuse, it would hurt his family and most likely his career. Dr. Wigand supported his family with this job and needed the medical benefits because his daughter had asthma. If he stood up for what felt morally right to him, not working with a cancer causing product, he could lose his job. Dr. Wigand also had the predicament that he worked for a company that appeared to be withholding information from the people. Again, if he spoke out he could risk his job, and with the power of…show more content…
Wigand happened when he went to the state of Mississippi. The 60 Minutes producer that Dr. Wigand had been speaking with, Lowell Bergman encouraged Wigand “to testify for the State of Mississippi in a lawsuit against Big Tobacco that was being brought to court by Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore” (The Seattle Times). When the tobacco company found out about the possible testimony, they had a Kentucky judge issue a gag-order against Dr. Wigand. If Dr. Wigand followed through with the testimony, he could be arrested and put into jail when he returned to Kentucky. This was a very difficult decision for Dr. Wigand to make. If he went to jail, he would again risk hurting his family. How would they be able to live without him working? “His children were still young and if his wife worked, no one would be there to watch the children” (The Insider). He loved his family and did not want to jeopardize them in any way. On the other hand, by testifying, it could get him out of his confidentiality agreement and also help others who have been hurt by the tobacco companies. Again, Dr. Wigand did what he felt was the right thing to do even if it put him personally at risk. He testified in the state of Mississippi. Once more, Wigand chooses the difficult path which is legally not “right” but ethically

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