Caveat Procurator: Virtues and Business Ethics

Dissertation, University of Virginia (1995)

Abstract
Two basic approaches to business ethics conceive it as having either its own internal standards, or as requiring restraint from external standards. In support of these basic approaches, scholars have employed various concepts, such as duties, rights, principles, and rules, but have largely neglected a role for virtues. ;Business practice and theory is teleological, attending to purposes. Teleological accounts are often connected to some conception of the virtues. The dissertation addresses the prospect of a virtue approach to business ethics. ;In exploring the shift in moral perspective, I draw primarily on philosophers who address both business and virtues: Adam Smith, Alasdair MacIntyre, and Robert Solomon. I also utilize the work of theologian Stanley Hauerwas, a virtue theorist. ;Probably the most crucial overarching theme in the dissertation concerns conceptions of business. The way that one understands business greatly impacts the possibilities for business ethics. I defend understanding business as a social practice and corporations as communities. As a social practice, business must contribute to the good of the larger society. As communities, corporations can have various goods, not only profit. The virtues are character traits that aspire to these goods and contribute to larger social goods
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