Ethics involves behavior standards that people hold on both their personal or professional lives. Ethics establishes levels of honesty and trustworthiness and other morals put in place to identify the personal behavior or public reputation of an individual. In the personal life of an individual ethics set standards on how people interact with those around them. However, in the professional life of an individual, ethics guide how they interact with clients or shareholders and how such interactions affect their business practices. People should consider their virtues in both their professional and personal lives to better the interaction with other individuals. This paper will explain the strengths and weakness of virtue ethics and assess its impact on business practice.
Whenever a person thinks about the behavior, he expects in his personal or professional life, he should have a philosophical dialogue with himself to ascertain the behavior standards he chooses to uphold, in other terms, ethics. According to Shockley, an action can be considered right if the same action can be considered right when a virtuous person reacts in the same way (web). In almost all cases, reason is applied through realistic wisdom, but according to Kant, in most situations emotions are ignored since virtue ethics are holistic. According to Aristotle personal or social flourishing represent the last rational goal of an individual and reasons moralizes the appetites of irrational soul parts of a person (Peped).
Strengths of Virtue Theory
One of the strengths of the virtue theory is that it brings happiness for people in the society. Ben Franklin, a Utilitarian, believed that the best way to achieve greater good is through virtue. Flourishing is among the strengths of virtue ethics since when one fulfills his potential he believes that he has achieved his ultimate goal. Virtue ethics is advantageous in that it brings about harmony. When people are in consensus on the right course of action, training and repetition facilitates a harmonious interaction between the different fields of study for collective success. Further, virtue theory avoids the problem of consequentialism, whose proponents are of the view that the end justifies the means (Byars and Kurt 15). Instead, virtue ethics concerns itself with the process, where if the process is right, then the ultimate outcome would be a better society. Virtue theory avoids the challenge brought about between action and consequences, where the moral agent must act in accordance with their integrity irrespective of the consequences.
Weaknesses of Virtue Theory
The major weakness of this theory is that laws can be made for an individual to do no harm. However, there is no way that any legislation can make laws that discuss about courage or patience. Then other weakness involves a conflict in virtues. At times, virtues can conflict each other thus making a person to choose whether to be kind or hones since he/she cannot be both. According to this theory, it does not tell one the virtue that should prevail. According to research people who are moral can appear bland or humorless, since at times virtuous acts are not as interesting or exciting in comparison to non virtuous acts (Webley 68). Implementing virtue ethics in business is also difficult from the nearly inexistent cooperation between corporations in developing a coherent ethics and values system in guiding business activity. In the modern age of global trade, it is difficult to harmonize between the different value systems employed by different corporations, especially when international trade is involved.
Business Perspective in Applying Virtue Ethics Theory
Virtue ethics is an emergent concept that focuses on the importance of virtue and character in the conduct of business, where virtues represent principles that are generally accepted within a community. A virtue ethics theory approach to situations allows the moral agent to act in the most virtuous manner for a person in the given circumstances. Revisiting Aristotle’s definition of a virtuous person, business practice must follow ideal character traits, irrespective of the outcome for the moral agent. Ideal character traits are a result of naturally inbuilt tendencies in addition to nurture. In business practice therefore, it is essential to start from basic concepts of human morality to advice decisions, which when nurtured develop a stability that is difficult to undo. In a virtue ethics mode of operation, the agent acts in a virtuous way across many situations throughout their lifetime, and is not solely motivated by the need to derive positive outcomes from their actions (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (IEP) web). Nonetheless, a virtue ethics approach may find limitation in its definition and use, where commonsense dictates the values and morals that are seen as attractive by other people.
Adopting a virtue approach in business goes beyond the traditional definitions of what is right or wrong, but assesses the comfort of the moral agent in adopting a course of action. The businessperson is responsible in determining the most virtuous course of action in a given situation. Lack of a harmonized moral code advising all business action limits the applicability of virtue ethics theory, given the diverse cultures that need to interact in actuating trade in the current global market. It is imperative for corporations and businesses to work together in distilling universal morals and values that are largely acceptable to all cultures. For the prosperous conduct of business in between and across cultures, a harmonized values system is paramount.
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Byars, Stephen M, and Kurt Stanberry. Business Ethics. Place of publication not identified: OpenStax, 2018. Internet resource.Bottom of Form
Peped. “Table: Strengths And Weaknesses Of Virtue Ethics – Philosophical Investigations”. Philosophical Investigations, 2008, https://peped.org/philosophicalinvestigations/table-strengths-and-weaknesses-of-virtue-ethics/. Accessed 10 Mar 2021.
Shockley, Paul. VIRTUE ETHICS: SUMMARY. 2019, https://o.b5z.net/i/u/2167316/f/Advantages___Disadvantages_of_Virtue_Ethics.pdf. Accessed 10 Mar 2021.
Webley, Simon. “Business ethics: a SWOT exercise.” Business Ethics: A European Review 10.3 (2001): 267-271.
Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (IEP). “Virtue Ethics | Internet Encyclopedia Of Philosophy”. Iep.Utm.Edu, 2021, https://iep.utm.edu/virtue/.
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