Virtue Ethics And Business Ethics Essay

2835 words - 11 pages

Virtue Ethics and Business Ethics

When considering Aristotelian ethics and then placing them in the
context of modern business practices, it is important to note that the
Greek paradigm was very different to that of our own in the modernist
age. Homer’s Greek myths, imminent wars and conflicts and empires were
all important issues in Greek times, society however does not place
such emphasis on these in today’s society. The concept of strong bonds
in a community where individuals must dutifully care for one another
is not integral in today’s society especially in a more capitalist
society upon which the western world works and flourishes. Individuals
in a community can live without the obligation of duty to others and
without pride if they so wish. In light of this, it is worth noting
that business practice and transaction in accordance with Aristotelian
ethics would not be very common in the modern age.

Aristotelian ethics centred round the concept of improving one’ self –
to quite literally make oneself more virtuous. To become more virtuous
is to improve one’s soul – the soul for Aristotle is split into two
halves, - the irrational soul which focuses around the human desires
and the rational soul which centres on the intellectual virtues.
Aristotle argues virtue is not a quality that human beings are born
with, nor is it hereditary; however Aristotle regards virtue as
important as the care of the physical body.

That said however, Aristotelian ethics can well be applied to business
ethics. The war and empire worldview of the Ancient Greek civilisation
(because of constant threat from other empires such as the Turks and
the Persians) could be compared with the ‘war-like’ attitude of
certain corporations fuelled by the fierce competition offered by
rival companies. Moreover, Aristotle’s ethics could be applied to the
issue of the exploitation of workers which is can be sometimes seen in
less economically developed countries where locals are ‘exploited’ by
multi national corporations and are paid minimal amounts relative to
the equivalent job in the country where the company is based (usually
a developed country). This would offend Aristotle’s ethics because of
the exploitation of humans. Aristotle’s moral virtue is based upon the
idea of a state of character that allows us to operate as an effective
and good human being. Hence, exploitation is not choosing the good and
is not choosing well and furthermore, is not being virtuous. Aristotle
would argue that appropriate business conduct would be to avoid
excess, an excess of money being a good example. In the same way, a
deficiency of money or trade for example would be equally negative. He
would believe in his Doctrine of the Mean – where through reason and
trial and error, an appropriate amount of money could be brought about

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