Shadow of Virtue: On a Painful if not Principled Compromise Inherent in Business Ethics
- 134 Downloads
From a certain philosophical perspective, one that is at least as old as Plato but which is addressed also by Aristotle and Kant, business ethics – to the extent that it is marketed as form of enlightened self-interest – constitutes a Thrasymachean compromise: to argue that it is to our advantage to conduct business ethically, perhaps even advantageous to the bottom-line, comes curiously close to endorsing what Plato called the ‹shadow of virtue’ – i.e., of becoming temperate for the sake of ill-temperance. And yet it also seems true that moralistic campaigns to achieve the impossible, e.g., pursuing justice for its own sake or eradicating egoism, often “detract from attaining really important things.” This essay explores the need, in business ethics as well as elsewhere, to make – what Dewey and Niebuhr considered to be – painful if not principled philosophical compromises in order to secure is a society in which there would be “enough justice to avoid complete disaster.”
KeywordsAristotle Business ethics Plato
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Aristotle: 1999, Nicomachean Ethics, 2nd Edition. Translated by T. Irwin (Hackett Publishing Company).Google Scholar
- J. M. Cooper (2004) Knowledge, Nature, and the Good: Essays on Ancient Philosophy. Princeton University Press, Princeton.Google Scholar
- John Dewey, Individualism, Old and New. New York: Prometheus Books, 1999.Google Scholar
- Vittorio Hösle, Philosophie der ökologischen Krise. Moskauer Vorträge (München : Beck Verlag), 1991.Google Scholar
- William James, The Letters of William James (Atlantic Monthly Press: Boston), 1920, 2.90.Google Scholar
- Kant, I.: 1998, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy, Edited by M. Gregor and Introduction by C. M. Korsgaard.Google Scholar
- Rupert Lay, Die Macht der Moral, Unternehmenserfolg durch ethisches Management, Düsseldorf: Econ Tashenbuch Verlag, 1993.Google Scholar
- Leisinger, K.: Corporate Ethics and International Business: Some Basic Issues, www.foundation.novartis.com.
- Mill, J. S.: 1998, Utilitarianism, Edited by R. Crisp (Oxford University Press, Oxford).Google Scholar
- Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society, Scribner: New York, 1960.Google Scholar
- Plato: 1977, Phaedo, Translated by G. M. A. Grube (Hackett Publishing Company).Google Scholar
- Plato: 1992, Republic, Translated by G. M. A. Grube and Revised by C. D. C. Reeve (Hackett Publishing Company).Google Scholar
- Rawls, J. (1971) A Theory of Justice, Belknap Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
- Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. Available at http://fl1.findlaw.com/news.findlaw.com/hdocs/docs/gwbush/sarbanesoxley072302.pdf.
- 1991 Sentencing Guidelines: See http://www.ussc.gov/orgguide.htm.