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Victims of Circumstances? A Defense of Virtue Ethics in Business

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  • Solomon, Robert C.

Abstract

Should the responsibilities of business managers be understood independently of the social circumstances and “market forces†that surround them, or (in accord with empiricism and the social sciences) are agents and their choices shaped by their circumstances, free only insofar as they act in accordance with antecedently established dispositions, their “character†? Virtue ethics, of which I consider myself a proponent, shares with empiricism this emphasis on character as well as an affinity with the social sciences. But recent criticisms of both empiricist and virtue ethical accounts of character deny even this apparent compromise between agency and environment. Here is an account of character that emphasizes dynamic interaction both in the formation and in the interplay between personal agency and responsibility on the one hand and social pressures and the environment on the other.

Suggested Citation

  • Solomon, Robert C., 2003. "Victims of Circumstances? A Defense of Virtue Ethics in Business," Business Ethics Quarterly, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(1), pages 43-62, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:buetqu:v:13:y:2003:i:01:p:43-62_00
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    Cited by:

    1. Vranceanu , Radu, 2013. "Corporate Profit, Entrepreneurship Theory and Business Ethics," ESSEC Working Papers WP1308, ESSEC Research Center, ESSEC Business School.
    2. Joan Fontrodona & Alejo Sison & Boudewijn Bruin, 2013. "Editorial Introduction: Putting Virtues Into Practice. A Challenge for Business and Organizations," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 113(4), pages 563-565, April.
    3. Valérie Petit & Helen Bollaert, 2012. "Flying Too Close to the Sun? Hubris Among CEOs and How to Prevent it," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 108(3), pages 265-283, July.
    4. Christopher Baird & Thomas S. Calvard, 2019. "Epistemic Vices in Organizations: Knowledge, Truth, and Unethical Conduct," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 160(1), pages 263-276, November.
    5. Patricia Grant & Surendra Arjoon & Peter McGhee, 2018. "In Pursuit of Eudaimonia: How Virtue Ethics Captures the Self-Understandings and Roles of Corporate Directors," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 153(2), pages 389-406, December.
    6. repec:hal:journl:hal-00823521 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Paul Shrivastava & Günter Schumacher & David Wasieleski & Marko Tasic, 2017. "Aesthetic Rationality in Organizations: Toward Developing a Sensibility for Sustainibility," Post-Print hal-01515126, HAL.
    8. Pasi Heikkurinen & Jukka Mäkinen, 2018. "Synthesising Corporate Responsibility on Organisational and Societal Levels of Analysis: An Integrative Perspective," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 149(3), pages 589-607, May.
    9. Stéphanie Arnaud & David Wasieleski, 2014. "Corporate Humanistic Responsibility: Social Performance Through Managerial Discretion of the HRM," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 120(3), pages 313-334, March.
    10. Marina Balboa & Germán López-Espinosa & Antonio Rubia, 2012. "Non-linear Dynamics in Discretionary Accruals: An Analysis of Bank Loan-Loss Provisions," Faculty Working Papers 07/12, School of Economics and Business Administration, University of Navarra.
    11. Juelin Yin & Anusorn Singhapakdi & Yunzhou Du, 2016. "Causes and moderators of corporate social responsibility in China: The influence of personal values and institutional logics," Asian Business & Management, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 15(3), pages 226-254, July.
    12. Boudewijn Bruin, 2013. "Epistemic Virtues in Business," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 113(4), pages 583-595, April.
    13. Andrew Abela & Ryan Shea, 2015. "Avoiding the Separation Thesis While Maintaining a Positive/Normative Distinction," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 131(1), pages 31-41, September.
    14. Dulce Redín & Reyes Calderón & Ignacio Ferrero, 2014. "Exploring the Ethical Dimension of Hawala," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 124(2), pages 327-337, October.
    15. Marc Orlitzky, 2017. "How Cognitive Neuroscience Informs a Subjectivist-Evolutionary Explanation of Business Ethics," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 144(4), pages 717-732, September.
    16. Ignacio Ferrero & Reyes Calderón, 2012. "The Ethical Dimension of Industrial Production: the Role of Transitive Motivation," Faculty Working Papers 11/12, School of Economics and Business Administration, University of Navarra.
    17. Adeyinka Adewale, 2020. "A Model of Virtuous Leadership in Africa: Case Study of a Nigerian Firm," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 161(4), pages 749-762, February.
    18. Federico Ast, 2019. "The Deliberative Test, a New Procedural Method for Ethical Decision Making in Integrative Social Contracts Theory," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 155(1), pages 207-221, March.
    19. Alma Acevedo, 2012. "Personalist Business Ethics and Humanistic Management: Insights from Jacques Maritain," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 105(2), pages 197-219, January.
    20. Dirk Vriens & Jan Achterbergh & Liesbeth Gulpers, 2018. "Virtuous Structures," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 150(3), pages 671-690, July.
    21. Matt Statler & David Oliver, 2016. "The Moral of the Story: Re-framing Ethical Codes of Conduct as Narrative Processes," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 136(1), pages 89-100, June.
    22. Andrew West, 2018. "After Virtue and Accounting Ethics," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 148(1), pages 21-36, March.
    23. Alma Acevedo, 2018. "A Personalistic Appraisal of Maslow’s Needs Theory of Motivation: From “Humanistic” Psychology to Integral Humanism," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 148(4), pages 741-763, April.
    24. Joanna Crossman & Hiroko Noma, 2013. "Sunao as Character: Its Implications for Trust and Intercultural Communication Within Subsidiaries of Japanese Multinationals in Australia," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 113(3), pages 543-555, March.

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