doctrine of the mean

doctrine of the mean - ARISTOTLES DOCTRINE OF THE MEAN: THE...

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1 ARISTOTLE’S DOCTRINE OF THE MEAN : THE QUEST FOR ARETE IN THE NEW CORPORATION Philosophy for Business, 33, October 11, 2006 SEAN D. JASSO, Ph.D. Copyright 2006 PREFACE In my field research for this project as well as my role as a faculty member in a graduate school of business, and my ongoing academic interests in the study of the corporation, I have found that ethics even amidst the Sarbanes-Oxley era is lukewarm in the overall perception of students and practitioners who live among the influences of government, business, and society. As anyone in the securities and public corporation industry would attest, business ethics is indeed a hot topic in the boardroom, the new employee orientation, the MBA program, and in the language of a firm’s annual report. One of the driving forces of my research has been to address what I see as a paradox between all of the fuss about business ethics and what in fact the practitioners of ethics (that is, the employees, directors, and owners) of the firm are actually doing to exhibit behavior that is in fact ethical. This article focuses on the following question: W here are human excellence, goodness, and justice in the corporation? First, I look to Aristotle and his doctrine of the mean providing a theoretical framework for strengthening the modern necessity of exhibiting good behavior not only in the corporation, but in society at large. Second, I use Aristotle’s ethics to build my own model to begin a debate as to how corporations can flourish not just profitably, but for life’s ultimate meaning– excellence and the good life. ON ARISTOTLE’S THEORY OF ETHICS: Roots, Perspectives and the Virtues Why Be Good? Why Aristotle? Why not his teacher Plato or his teacher Socrates? Each of these men helped shape modern civilization by introducing their students to the methodology of deep, intellectual inquiry – on existence, on politics, on commerce, on love, on life. Aristotle’s approach to the questions of meaning was not only written down by himself, and potentially by Aristotle’s son Nicomachus, a unique and time-consuming skill in his or anyone’s time, but the instructive approach, or the scientific method per se, is attributed to him. This article examines the roots of how the quest for meaning in life can play a role in the quest for meaning in the corporation. Looking to the literature on Aristotle, his writings and the criticisms of his philosophy, the shelves are long and tall, filled with hundreds of years of published discussion. For example, according to Seth, who writes on ethics as a method of discovery, “Aristotle, the father of science, clearly distinguished ethics as the science of the Good (for man)…whose task was the investigation of the universe itself” (1897, p. 275). On meaning, Seth continues describing “the moral being [as] always judging the moral evolution, and there is an evolution of moral judgment as well as of the conduct which is judged” (1897, p. 280). And finally, Seth helps frame the objective of the ethical
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doctrine of the mean - ARISTOTLES DOCTRINE OF THE MEAN: THE...

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