This paper introduces a body of research on Organizational Behavior and Industrial/organizational Psychology that expands the range of empirical evidence relevant to the ongoing character-situation debate. This body of research, mostly neglected by moral philosophers, provides important insights to move the debate forward. First, the OB/io scholarship provides empirical evidence to show that social environments like organizations have significant power to shape the character traits of their members. This scholarship also describes some of the mechanisms through which this process of (...) reshaping character takes place. Second, the character-situation debate has narrowly focused on situational influences that affect behavior episodically and haphazardly. The OB/io research, however, highlights the importance of distinguishing such situational influences from influences that, like organizational influences, shape our character traits because they are continuous and coordinated. Third, the OB/io literature suggests that most individuals display character traits that, while local to the organization, can be consistent across situations. This puts pressure on the accounts of character proposed by traditional virtue ethics and situationism and provides empirical support to interactionist models based on cognitive-affective processing system theories of personality. Finally, the OB/io literature raises important challenges to the possibility of achieving virtue, provides valuable and untapped resources to cultivate character, and suggests new avenues of normative and empirical research. (shrink)
Scholars who favor shareholder primacy usually claim either that managers should not fulfill corporate duties of beneficence or that, if they are required to fulfill them, they do so by going against their obligations to shareholders. Distinguishing between structurally different types of duties of beneficence and recognizing the full force of the normative demands imposed on managers reveal that this view needs to be qualified. Although it is correct to think that managers, when acting on behalf of shareholders, are not (...) required to fulfill wide duties of charity, they are nevertheless required to fulfill a variety of narrow duties of beneficence. What is more, the obligation to fulfill these duties arises precisely because they are acting on behalf of shareholders. As such, this article 1) refines our understanding of the duties of corporate beneficence and 2) helps to identify which duties of beneficence are imposed on managers when they are acting on behalf of shareholders. (shrink)
ABSTRACT:The distinction between what I call nonelective obligations and discretionary obligations, a distinction that focuses on one particular thread of the distinction between perfect and imperfect duties, helps us to identify the obligations that carry over from principals to agents. Clarity on this issue is necessary to identify the moral obligations within “shareholder primacy”, which conceives of managers as agents of shareholders. My main claim is that the principal-agent relation requires agents to fulfill nonelective obligations, but it does not always (...) require discharging discretionary obligations. I show that the requirement to fulfill nonelective obligations is more far-reaching than has been acknowledged by most defenders and critics of shareholder primacy. But I also show that managers are not bound by certain discretionary obligations like charity, showing that their moral obligations are more circumscribed than the obligations that apply to human beings in general. (shrink)
Socrates’ inquiry into the nature of the virtues and human excellence led him to experience Socratic ignorance, a practical puzzlement experienced by his recognition that his central life commitments were conceptually problematic. This practical perplexity was not, however, an epistemic weakness but a reflection of his wisdom. I argue that Socratic ignorance, a concept that has not received scholarly attention in business ethics, is a central aim that business practitioners should seek. It is what a truthful, thorough, and courageous inquiry (...) into their professional roles and commitments leads to. It wakes them up from the moral complacency engendered by organizations, forcing them to become much more critical of their day-to-day activities and more intentional about living virtuously. It curbs the corrupting potential of authority positions and prevents the tendency of subordinates to routinely conform to sanctioned norms and expectations. Finally, it opens up novel and creative moral avenues and provides a promising model to deal with the conflicts posed by our globalized and increasingly polarized world. (shrink)
Duties of beneficence are said to allow for leeway to discharge them. By distinguishing between two different types of leeway, Mejia identified three structurally different duties of beneficence. In this Commentary I deploy those distinctions to clarify the nature of a fourth type of duty of beneficence, one prompted by a global pandemic, a duty with a peculiar, and seldom recognized, conceptual logic. I provide some guidelines that should orient managers when they take themselves to be fulfilling such a duty (...) on behalf of shareholders. (shrink)
The scholarship on meaningful work has approached the topic mostly from the perspective of the subjective experience of the individual worker. This has led the literature to under-theorize, if not outright ignore, the cultural and normative dimension of meaningful work. In particular, it has obscured that a person’s ability to find meaning in her life in general, and her work in particular, is typically anchored and dependent on shared institutions and cultural aspirations. Reflecting on the future of work, particularly on (...) the dangers posed by the threat of technological unemployment, helps us recognize this cultural and normative dimension of meaningful work. I argue that a world with few work opportunities is a world devoid of a core structuring ideal around which our society has organized itself and, as such, will strain our ability to make sense of what it means to find life meaningful. To make this case I show that work operates as a central organizing _telos_ around which our contemporary lives gravitate. Work touches everyone and everything, defining the rhythms of our days and weeks and providing a center of gravity around which our lives are structured. Work constitutes a central dimension of human flourishing. Through work we provide for our material needs, develop our skills and virtues, build community, and contribute to the common good. As such, work constitutes a central organizing ideal in contemporary Western societies, a fact has significant normative force and plays an important role in our finding work meaningful. (shrink)
Klara and the Sun, the latest novel by Nobel-prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro, forces one to reckon with one's own anxieties about the future of emerging technologies and confront deep questions about the nature of dignity, existence, and humanity. The novel also provides one with complex characters and a speculative future through which to live new lives, experience novel worlds, and see through different eyes. At the same time, the novel’s world offers us an uncanny distance from our own, making us (...) prone to pass judgments on the characters’ moral faults that we later come to recognize are also our own. (shrink)
I discuss the nature of the moral imperatives that Humanistic Management seems to propose. In particular I discuss whether Humanistic Management should be seen as an inspirational invitation to reimagine how organizations could be conceived and practiced or as a mode of organizing which is mean to replace our current forms of organizing and which we have a moral imperative to adopt.
Resumen: En la primera parte del presente artículo esbozaré algunas diferencias entre la creencia ordinaria y la creencia religiosa que pondrán en evidencia el enorme abismo gramatical que las separa. En la segunda parte discutiré la naturaleza de la comprensión religiosa, apelando al "ver-como" com..