Aristotelian Practical Wisdom in Business Ethics: Two Neglected Components

Journal of Business Ethics 163 (3):417-428 (2020)
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The revival of virtue ethics in contemporary moral philosophy had a major impact on business ethicists, among whom the virtues have become a staple subject of inquiry. Aristotle’s phronēsis is one of those virtues, and a number of texts have examined it in some detail. But analyses of phronēsis in business ethics have neglected some of its most significant and interesting elements. In this paper, I dissect two neglected components of practical wisdom as outlined in Book VI of the Nicomachean Ethics: sunesis, a capacity to perceptively evaluate testimony, and gnomē, a capacity to rightly discern exceptions to ‘universal’ moral rules. Practical wisdom is a product of experience, so I examine the role that experience plays in the development of these deliberative capacities, asking what it is that the practically wise will have taken away from their experiences. It is, in particular, everyday, ‘mundane’ experience that begets these excellences, so I concentrate specifically on that kind of experience in the domains of sunesis and gnomē as I search for insights about how we develop phronēsis and how we might better do what is right.



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Steven Steyl
University of Notre Dame Australia

References found in this work

Nicomachean ethics. Aristotle - 1999 - New York: Clarendon Press. Edited by Michael Pakaluk. Translated by Michael Pakaluk.
On Virtue Ethics.Rosalind Hursthouse - 1999 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Intelligent Virtue.Julia Annas - 2011 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Natural goodness.Philippa Foot - 2001 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Genealogy.Bernard Williams - 2002 - Princeton: Princeton University Press.

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