It’s a Three-Ring Circus: How Morally Educative Practices Are Undermined by Institutions

Business Ethics Quarterly:1-27 (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Since the publication of Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue in 1981, tensions inherent to the relationship between morally educative practices and the institutions that house them have been widely noted. We propose a taxonomy of the ways in which the pursuit of external goods by institutions undermines the pursuit of the internal goods of practices. These comprise substitution, where the institution replaces the pursuit of one type of good by another; frustration, where opportunities for practitioners to discover goods or develop new standards of excellence are frustrated by institutional priorities and resource allocation; and injustice, which undermines the integrity of relationships within the organization and/or with partners. These threats, though analytically distinct, are often mutually reinforcing. This conceptual contribution is illustrated both by the extant literature and by a novel context, the three-ring circus.

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Matthew Sinnicks
University of Southampton