Thomas Aquinas on Justice as a Global Virtue in Business

Business Ethics Quarterly 22 (2):247-272 (2012)
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Abstract

Today’s globalized economy cannot be governed by legal strictures alone. A combination of self-interest and regulation is not enough to avoid the recurrence of its systemic crises. We also need virtues and a sense of corporate responsibility in order to assure the sustained success of the global economy. Yet whose virtues shall prevail in a pluralistic world? The moral theory of Thomas Aquinas meets the present need for a business ethics that transcends the legal realm by linking the ideas of justice and virtue in an ingenious way. While allowing for, and incorporating, the specificities of region and religion, industry and culture, Thomas’s virtue theory coordinates private and public activities through a set of context-invariant, justice-oriented norms with conceptual appeal to contemporary questions of global business ethics.In our article, we first sketch how Aquinas’s theory can be also of relevance to a non-confessional audience through its appeal to the ‘natural light of reason.’ Then we explain how his theory of ‘natural law’ aligns his ideas of virtue and justice. From this vantage point, we address the tension between cultural diversity and moral uniformity in the economic sphere in general and in today’s globalized business world in particular. Throughout the article, we aim to show that by interpreting the virtue-dimension of business in light of the idea of social justice, Aquinas’s conception of virtuous business conduct gains inter-personal and inter-cultural validity that establishes social justice as the global virtue of business.

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References found in this work

Summa Theologiae (1265-1273).Thomas Aquinas - 1911 - Edited by John Mortensen & Enrique Alarcón.
Summa Contra Gentiles.Thomas Aquinas - 1975 - University of Notre Dame Press.
Dependent Rational Animals. Why Human Beings need the Virtues.Alasdair Macintyre - 1999 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 191 (3):389-390.
Aristotle's De Motu Animalium.D. W. Hamlyn - 1980 - Philosophical Quarterly 30 (120):246.

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