On the Analogy Between Business and Sport: Towards an Aristotelian Response to The Market Failures Approach to Business Ethics

Journal of Business Ethics 177 (1):49-61 (2022)
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This paper explores the notion that business calls for an adversarial ethic, akin to that of sport. On this view, because of their competitive structure, both sport and business call for behaviours that are contrary to ‘ordinary morality’, and yet are ultimately justified because of the goods they facilitate. I develop three objections to this analogy. Firstly, there is an important qualitative difference between harms risked voluntarily and harms risked involuntarily. Secondly, the goods achieved by adversarial relationships in sport go beyond the function of sport, i.e. to entertain audiences. Thirdly, the most plausible account of the athlete’s motivational development starts with their love of the sport, which can explain a commitment to the sporting ethics in a way that is not paralleled in business. I close by drawing attention to the ways in which an Aristotelian conception of business ethics may be able to accommodate these objections.

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Matthew Sinnicks
University of Southampton

References found in this work

Nicomachean Ethics.H. Aristotle & Rackham - 2019 - New York: Hackett Publishing Company. Edited by Michael Pakaluk.
After Virtue.A. MacIntyre - 1981 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 46 (1):169-171.

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