Business Ethics as a Form of Practical Reasoning: What Philosophers Can Learn from Patagonia
Mark R. Ryan ()
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Mark R. Ryan: University of Dayton
Humanistic Management Journal, 2021, vol. 6, issue 1, No 7, 103-116
Abstract As with other fields of applied ethics, philosophers engaged in business ethics struggle to carry out substantive philosophical reflection in a way that mirrors the practical reasoning that goes on within business management itself. One manifestation of the philosopher’s struggle is the field’s division into approaches that emphasize moral philosophy and those grounded in the methods of social science. I claim here that the task for those who come to business ethics with philosophical training is to avoid unintentionally widening the gap between philosophical theory and business management by emphasizing the centrality of practical wisdom (phronesis) to both good managment and to the moral life. Distinguishing my own approach from recent emphases on phronesis in management literature, I draw on the concepts of social practice and of narrative to tie practical reasoning to a company’s unique story. Practical reason, social practices and narrative are employed together to give an account of the art of management at Patagonia. The essay hopes to both provide a way for philosophers engaged with business ethics to see family resemblances between their practices and those of business management and to offer a pedagogical example useful for those in any discipline interested in viewing businesses ethically.
Keywords: Business ethics; Philosophy; Practical reason; Narrative; Social practice; Patagonia (search for similar items in EconPapers)
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