Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 128, Issue 3, pp 585–601 | Cite as

Two Forms of Virtue Ethics: Two Sets of Virtuous Action in the Fire Service Dispute?

  • David DawsonEmail author


There has been increasing interest in the relevance of virtue approaches to ethics over the past 15 years. However, debate surrounding the virtue approach in the business, management and organisational studies literature has lacked progress. First, this literature focuses on a narrow range of philosophers, and, second, it has failed to analyse properly the consequences of virtue theory for action in practical settings other than in abstract terms. In order to begin addressing these issues, this paper compares what two virtue frameworks—one focused on virtue in the context of community and the other on individuals as virtuous agents—lead to when evaluating the actions of parties to the 2002–2004 UK Fire Service dispute. The analysis argues that the virtue frameworks proposed by MacIntyre and Slote offer different but complimentary evaluations. Both not only point to potential problems with industrial disputes, but also recognise the legitimacy of action that is based in good motivations and carried out with regard for the virtues. It seems that fire fighters and their immediate supervisors, on the whole, met the conditions of virtue, but that it is open to question if the leaders of the Fire Brigades Union and the Government did the same. The analysis goes on to suggest which modes of negotiation would be acceptable under the virtue frameworks, and the implications for those involved in industrial dispute.


Business ethics Employee relations Fire fighters Industrial action MacIntyre Negotiation Slote Strike Virtue ethics 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Business SchoolUniversity of GloucestershireCheltenhamUK

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