Aristotle and Werhane on Moral Imagination

  • Edwin M. Hartman
Part of the Issues in Business Ethics book series (IBET, volume 47)


Aristotle holds that virtue is more important to ethics than is following principles, though principles count for something. To act virtuously requires finding a mean between two bad extremes, such as cowardice and foolhardiness. This in turn requires the ability to see which details of a case are salient – or, in Aristotle’s terms, what the essence of the situation is. The enabling faculty Aristotle calls perception. Werhane’s account of moral imagination is similar. Perception can go wrong, according to Aristotle, when we apply the wrong principle to a situation because we do not see the situation for what it really is. This Werhane calls failure of moral imagination.

Werhane claims that organizations as well as individuals can have moral imagination. Aristotle believes, somewhat similarly, that one’s community deeply affects one’s character, hence one’s ability to perceive correctly. There remains a problem about finding a mean between the extremes of isolation and surrender of one’s autonomy.


Perception Moral imagination Virtue Character Mean between extremes Essence of a situation Conceptual schemes Dialectic Property Friedman Financialization Modernity Democratic capitalism 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edwin M. Hartman
    • 1
  1. 1.Stern School of BusinessNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA

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