Victims of Circumstances? A Defense of Virtue Ethics in Business

Business Ethics Quarterly 13 (1):43-62 (2003)
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Should the responsibilities of business managers be understood independently of the social circumstances and “market forces”that surround them, or (in accord with empiricism and the social sciences) are agents and their choices shaped by their circumstances,free only insofar as they act in accordance with antecedently established dispositions, their “character”? Virtue ethics, of which I consider myself a proponent, shares with empiricism this emphasis on character as well as an affinity with the social sciences. But recent criticisms of both empiricist and virtue ethical accounts of character deny even this apparent compromise between agency and environment. Here is an account of character that emphasizes dynamic interaction both in the formation and in the interplay between personal agency and responsibility on the one hand and social pressures and the environment on the other



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