Business Ethics VirtueEthics
VirtueEthics • Virtue ethics focuses not so much onprinciples or the consequences of action, nor even the action itself so much as on the agent, the person who performs the action, in the light of the circumstances and all ofhis or her other actions. • The focus is on the person’s character, or alternatively,on those traits of character expressed in this and other actions, his or hervirtues.
Aristotle’svirtueethics • The most famous virtue ethicist, and in many ways still the starting point for most virtue ethicists, is the great Greek philosopherAristotle (384–322 BCE). • In his Nicomachean Ethics (1954), Aristotle laid out asystem of virtue ethics which still remains the starting point, if not the model, for mostvirtue ethicists. • A virtue (aretéwhich can also be translated as “excellence”) for Aristotlewas the mean between the extremes.
Atistotle’svirtueethics • Aristotle claimed that all human action must aim at something - he believed this to be eudaimon. • Eudaimonis sometimes translated as happiness but this is somewhat misleading as Aristotle really meant was a state of flourishing, or leading a worthwhile life. • In order to reach this state of flourishing one must possess the relevant arête or virtues. • Aristotle called these virtues, excellences. • To lead a fulfilling life, one must exercise these excellent character traits.
Virtue ethicistswould argue that what is essential to ethicsis not universal rules and objective rational principles but rather an established way ofdoingthings, a shared sense of value and significance, shared heroes and role models,a clear sense of what sort of aperson one should be.
Virtuousperson • A virtuous person is not simply one who just does a good or right act once in a while, rather a virtuous person is someone who “consistently” chooses the right acts for the right motives. • Being virtuous is a habitual act and you are what you do. • If you lie constantly, you are a liar and the act of lying establishes that character trait in you. • In business, if you cut corners and practice unethical business tactics you are an unethical businessman.
Importantvirtues • Integrity • Trust • Honesty • Self-Control • Fairness
Virtiousorganization • Virtueethics can also be usedtocriticizethe dominant culturewithinthebusinessworld Thisentails a criticism of; • Individualizm • Pureprofitorientation • Competitiveculture • Materialism
Virtiousorganizations • Essential to understanding most human activities is the idea of a practice – a sharedcooperative activity with mutually understood goals and ways of doing things – • andan idea of excellence in that activity, both in the sense of the specific skills and talentsrequired for the activity, and in the sense of the more general traits and habits thatmake the activity possible.
Modern virtueethics • Alasdair MacIntyre is one of the most influential virtue ethicists • He criticized the dominant culture of business world • He thinks that businesses are only concerned with external goods and this prevents practice from flourishing • Example practices; farming, science, art, education, architecture, engineering…
ExternalandInternalgoods • It is characteristic of what I have called external goods that when achieved they are always some individual's property or possession. Moreover characteristically they are such that the more someone has of them, the less there is for other people. ...External goods are therefore characteristically objects of competition in which there must be losers as well as winners. Internal goods are indeed the outcome of competition to excel, but it is characteristic of them that their achievement is a good for the whole community who participate in the practice. (1984, pp.190-191)
ExternalandInternalgoods • Internal goods, on the other hand, are goods of the profession. • One becomes a good manager, doctor, businessman through achieving the internal goods of the practice. • Internalgoods is thequality/excellence of theproductor service oneproduces.