Whose work? Which markets? Rethinking work and markets in light of virtue ethics

Business Ethics, the Environment and Responsibility 32 (S1):4-14 (2023)
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Abstract

Neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics applied to work and business theory have received increasing attention due to Alasdair MacIntyre's philosophy. At the same time, this approach has been accused of being inapplicable, a romantic nostalgia for an ideal world far from the reality of today's markets. Moreover, the more this theory evolves, the bigger the gap seems to become, as if good work were at odds with its economic dimension. This paper aims to address this gap by explaining how MacIntyre's neo-Aristotelianism conceives of the economic dimension of good work. In particular, we claim that it is consistent with MacIntyre's philosophy that said economic dimension of work can be defined in terms of excellence and virtue, particularly in accordance with the virtues of justice and unity of life. However, for these virtues of good work to be practicable, a reconsideration of market practices performed under the logic of giving and receiving is needed. Hence, defining and sustaining an economic dimension of good work in MacIntyre also depend on the possibility of market practices being defined as excellent.

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