The Christian Notion of Αγάπη (agápē): Towards a More Complete View of Business Ethics
Business Ethics, significantly developed over the last three decades, generally does not consider the notion of ἀγάπη (agápē) which is central in Christian ethics. This article analyses the meaning of agápē in the Christian Bible and argues that this Greek word can be translated as “love”, in the sense of a self-giving love, and including the sacrificing of one’s own interests for the good of others. Agápē is a virtue which inspires all other virtues in the Christian tradition. Philosophically speaking, agápē means “love of benevolence”, a notion which is not too far from the Confucian notion of ren, generally translated as “benevolence” or “loving others”. The article moves on to discuss how agápē can be introduced in business ethics and argues that a business ethics theory which includes the consideration of “love of benevolence” is more complete than others which ignore it.
KeywordsBusiness Ethic Virtue Ethic Organizational Ethic Managerial Ethic Confucian Ethic
- Aquinas, T. (1981) . Summa Theologiae (trans: by Fathers of the English Dominican Province). London: Burns Oates and Washbourne.Google Scholar
- Aristotle. (1925). The Nicomachean Ethics (trans: Ross, D.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Bible, T. H. (1966). New revised standard version (Catholic edition). Princeton: NJ Scepter.Google Scholar
- Brenkert, G. G., & Beauchamp, T. L. (Eds.). (2010). The Oxford handbook of business ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Catholic Church (2003). Catechism of the Catholic Church. Random House. www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_INDEX.HTM. London.
- Confucius. (2011) Analects (trans: James Legge.). http://ctext.org/analects/yan-yuan. Accessed 13 September 2012.
- De George, R. (1982). Business ethics. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Enderle, G. (2010). Clarifying the terms of business ethics and CSR. Business Ethics Quarterly, 20(4), 730–732.Google Scholar
- Lewis, C. S. (1960). The four loves. New York: Harcourt, Barce.Google Scholar
- Mayer, R. C., Davis, J. H., & Schoorman, F. D. (1995). An integrative model of organizational trust. Academy of Management Review, 20(3), 709–734.Google Scholar
- Melé, D. (2009a). Business ethics in action. Seeking human excellence in organizations. New York: Palgrave-MacMillan.Google Scholar
- Melé, D. (2011). The firm as a “Community of Persons”: a pillar of humanistic business ethos. Journal of Business Ethics, 106(1), 89–101.Google Scholar
- Pope Benedict XVI. (2005). Encyclical Letter ’Deus caritas est. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20090629_deus-caritas-est_en.html. Accessed 13 September 2012.
- Pope Benedict XVI. (2009). Encyclical Letter Caritas in veritate. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20090629_caritas-in-veritate_en.html. Accessed 13 September 2012.
- Pope John Paul II. (1993) Encyclical Letter Veritatis Splendor on Christian Ethics. http://www.vatican.va/edocs/ENG0222/_INDEX.HTM. Accessed 13 September 2012.
- Smith, A. (1910/1776). An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations. London: Dent.Google Scholar
- Solomon, R. (1993). Ethics and excellence: cooperation and integrity in business. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Velasquez, M. G. (1982). Business ethics: concepts and cases. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
- Ratzinger (Benedict XVI), J. (2007). Jesus of Nazareth I. New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar