When we think of theories that attempt to root capitalism in nature, the one that comes most readily to mind is Social Darwinism. In this theory, nature - driven by Darwinian natural selection (the struggle for existence and the survival of the fittest) - is interpreted to imply, when applied to human activities, that extreme competition will allow the most "fit" competitors to rise to the top and to survive in this "struggle for existence," and this process of dog-eat-dog competition (...) leads to both material and social progress. Not only has this theory been shown to be seriously flawed, the putative social implications of Darwinian natural selection do not accord with the findings of contemporary neoDarwinists who maintain, for example, that the behavior of monkeys and apes reveals a blend of competition and cooperation and, generally, a close connection to human moral behavior. Adam Smith provides a more helpful view of the connection between nature and capitalism. He maintains that nature's wisdom, as seen in its harmony and balance, is displayed in economics and human nature. Competitive free enterprise, as a vehicle for exchange, functions within a cooperative context and exhibits virtues and values such as mutual help and benefit, trust, harmony, and friendship. I shall show that neoDarwinists agree with Smith's view that nature supports a connection between competition and cooperation, and they maintain that moral activity, rather than destructive dog-eat-dog competition, is necessary to achieve the goals of natural selection. (shrink)
I discuss the characters Don Quixote and Sancho Panza and their relationship in order to understand better the place of idealistictheory and realistic practice in business ethics. The realism of Sancho Panza is required to make the idealism of Don Quixote effective.Indeed, the interaction and development of these characters can serve as a model for both the effective communication between andblending of the idealistic moral theoretician and the practical businessperson. Specifically, I argue that a quixotified Sancho Panza,as a combination of (...) theoretical idealism and practical realism, is necessary for managerial statesmanship. I first consider the positionthat this concept is unrealistic. In the final section, however, I show that a number of leadership and business theorists believe thatmanagerial statesmanship requires a quixotified Sancho Panza. I also consider the question, what helps to make a quixotic vision forbusiness ethical, and what is its content? (shrink)
In part 1 of the paper, I develop a Platonic business ethic, emphasizing Plato’s Republic. I approach business ethics from a virtue ethics position, and I attempt to show that a Platonic craftsmanship model infuses a corporation with a type of managerial wisdom and justice, molds temperate and courageous corporate characters, and entails a morally fine type of self-interest. I also show that it is basic to two influential management theories.In part 2, I use Amartya Sen’s Development as Freedom to (...) show that the craftsmanship model is central to the concept of development. This concept is important in ethical discussions of both globalization and transnational corporations. Thus, I attempt to globalize Platonic business ethics using a craftsmanship model.In my concluding remarks, I attempt to show that the Plato/Sen position on development can be illustrated by both American and non-American capitalist firms functioning in our globalized world. (shrink)
In Section I, I criticize the view, implied by the concept of rational economic man, that feelings are inherently opposed to rationality. I attempt to show that emotions or feelings are essential to the proper functioning of reason, rational objectivity, and practical rationality or rational decision making. In addition, I argue that emotions can help to resolve certain ethical dilemmas. In Section II, I consider business writers who criticize business for overemphasizing the head at the expense of feelings or the (...) heart. In Section III, I discuss the connection between material self-interest (as manifested in trade) – a concept of rational economic man – and business virtues. (shrink)
I distinguish between two problems related to business ethics. (1) How can business ethics help morally conscientious business people to resolve moral problems in business? (2) Given the widespread belief that immorality, or at least amorality, is too prevalent in business, how can one discover both the sources of business amorality and immorality and make business as morally respectable an institution as possible? Philosophers who have concerned themselves with business ethics have emphasized (1), i.e., they consider the normative ethical principles (...) applicable to solving moral questions in business. Although some benefit can be derived from this approach, there are a number of problems with this position. I then argue that, in considering (2), we ought to analyze business life styles (ideals) that have determined the character of American business people, and show both their negative and positive moral consequences. This analysis reveals the morality, or lack of it, in modern American business, possible changes in business morality, and possible ways of developing a desirable and viable business ethic. In a sketchy way, I show how this project can be developed. (shrink)
Plato's paradigm for statesmanship in the Statesman, the weaving of temperate and courageous properties, provides the contemporary business ethics theorist with an aid for determining certain problems and solutions with regard to business leadership. The history of American business values manifests the destructive, and especially unethical, effects of deviating from this paradigm by over-emphasizing one or the other of the above types of qualities. However, with the aid of Plato's model for leadership in the Statesman and suggestions from Peters and (...) Waterman's In Search of Excellence, progress can be made towards constructing an adequate model for corporate leadership, especially from an ethical standpoint. (shrink)
I explore certain interconnections and commonalities among technology, corporations, and contemporary globalization in order to best understand the dangerous ethical and social consequences that accrue from them. I begin by discussing the notion of means becoming ends. Technology as means and corporate instrumental values tend to become endsin-themselves. I then suggest that technologist’s and corporate manager’s quantitative methods are ill-equipped to deal with questions of intrinsic value or ends, which are qualitative. Moreover, “development,” a key term in globalization discussions, is (...) often defined quantitatively (in economic terms) rather than qualitatively. I argue that this view is too narrow. Next, I discuss limiting autonomy as an important issue common to technology, corporations, and contemporary globalization. Material progress as a goal common to technology, corporations, and contemporary globalization is also considered. Technological mistakes and a neo-liberal, laissez-faire economy are said to be self-corrective, and this feature is used to support the notion of material progress. I argue that this has proved to be too optimistic. In the last section, I use certain contemporary leadership theorists to criticizeKenneth Galbraith’s and Peter Drucker’s views on corporate governance by technocratic specialists. I also discuss recent developments of the concept of technological assessment and related work by TU Delft researchers. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that an Aristotelian approach to business ethics would place theory and practice in business ethics in proper balance. I attempt to show this in two parts. In part one, I suggest that Aristotle’s balanced view of the relation between theory and practice in political philosophy can be applied to corporate life;Aristotle’s sophisticated ethical and political inquiries should help advocates of corporate culture to construct theories that are theoretically, practically, and ethically sound. In part two, I (...) argue that theory and practice are kept in proper balance in Aristotle’s discussion of phronesis or practical wisdom; therefore, Aristotelian phronesis should help to illuminate morally intelligent business conduct. (shrink)
I explore certain interconnections and commonalities among technology, corporations, and contemporary globalization in order to best understand the dangerous ethical and social consequences that accrue from them. I begin by discussing the notion of means becoming ends. Technology as means and corporate instrumental values tend to become endsin-themselves. I then suggest that technologist’s and corporate manager’s quantitative methods are ill-equipped to deal with questions of intrinsic value or ends, which are qualitative. Moreover, “development,” a key term in globalization discussions, is (...) often defined quantitatively rather than qualitatively. I argue that this view is too narrow. Next, I discuss limiting autonomy as an important issue common to technology, corporations, and contemporary globalization. Material progress as a goal common to technology, corporations, and contemporary globalization is also considered. Technological mistakes and a neo-liberal, laissez-faire economy are said to be self-corrective, and this feature is used to support the notion of material progress. I argue that this has proved to be too optimistic. In the last section, I use certain contemporary leadership theorists to criticizeKenneth Galbraith’s and Peter Drucker’s views on corporate governance by technocratic specialists. I also discuss recent developments of the concept of technological assessment and related work by TU Delft researchers. (shrink)
The purpose of this dissertation is to develop and defend a method of elimination for determining justifiable basic normative ethical principles. The method is developed by considering Books I and X of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics and Plato's Meno. The method requires consideration on two different "levels." Aristotle and Plato use regulative endoxic premises as the evaluative criteria of the method. Such premises, which ideally are based upon universal agreement, guide an inquiry of our sort, i.e., determine the elimination or nonelimination (...) of the alternatives. Concerning the second "level," an adequate list of alternative possible solutions should be presented, and some principle or technique should be provided for determining such an adequate list. On the basis of the above premises, alternatives are evaluated in such a way that lack of accordance with any one of the relevant premises--assuming that there is more than one--is sufficient for the elimination of an alternative. The only alternative that is not eliminated by any of the premises provides the solution to the problem. The Aristotle chapter shows how regulative endoxic premises can be used, in an "ideal" sense, for choosing between two or more alternatives that generally accord with the premises. ;Our discussion of Aristotle and Plato shows that they do use this method and illustrates, in some detail, both how the method is used and specific variations of it. Our philosophers use different principles or techniques for determining the plausible alternatives. Aristotle chooses alternatives which are endoxic opinions. Plato uses the opinions of interlocutors, which are often endoxic, but he basically relies on a type of shared or cooperative rational inquiry to determine increasingly more adequate opinions, and, consequently, the plausible opinions that ought to be considered. On this "level," we attempt to show that the Platonic technique is more adequate than the Aristotelian procedure. ;Probably the most controversial feature of our method is the employment of regulative endoxic premises. Our final chapter is concerned with further clarification and defense of these premises. We attempt to show that regulative endoxic premises are different from and more adequate than the more objectionable opinions called conventionally moral opinions. We, then, attempt to provide a justifiable account of the differential value, in our method, in the evidential force of regulative endoxic premises and substantive endoxic opinions, and attempt to determine how adequate regulative endoxic premises relative to a specific inquiry can be identified. We argue that these premises provide the conditions necessary for the possibility of successful inquiry within, what I call, the ordinary ethical standpoint, and that the basic presupposition of this standpoint is an acceptable assumption. ;Two alternatives to our position concerning the defense of regulative endoxic premises are considered: They are intuitively self-evident. They are analytic truths based upon an appeal to ordinary usage. is readily seen to be objectionable. is, apparently, the position of Hare. We argue that Hare's position, which maintains that the probative force of regulative endoxic premises is based upon their analytic nature, is quite debatable, and does not, therefore, provide a viable alternative to our position. We also object to Hare's view of his regulative endoxa, viz., universalizability and prescriptivity. (shrink)
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