Robert Solomon’s Contribution to Business Ethics: Emotional Agency

  • Patricia H. Werhane
  • David Bevan
Part of the Sophia Studies in Cross-cultural Philosophy of Traditions and Cultures book series (SCPT, volume 1)


In this chapter we will focus on strands of two of the distinctive contribution that forms part of Robert Solomon’s legacy. The first speaks directly and explicitly to the field of business and business ethics. The second, perhaps Solomon’s most substantial and lasting potential contribution to applied ethics, arises from his work on a cognitive theory of emotions, or as some call it a cognitive structure of emotions (Ortony AG et al. (eds), The cognitive structure of emotions. Oxford University Press, New York, 1988), and his more contentious argument that “we are (at least sometimes, to some extent) responsible or our emotions and our emotional responses” (Solomon RC, Not passion’s slave. Oxford University Press, New York, 2003: vii). We will suggest that there is much to be learned in applied or business ethics from Solomon’s work on the emotions, because through this theorization the emotions become potentially instrumental or agentic in changing our mental models: in affecting the mind sets through which we each frame, focus, evaluate, and judge our experiences. In acknowledging the potential of this theorization we become more responsible for our actions as inspired by our emotions.


Business Ethic Mental Model Conceptual Scheme Color Word Basic Emotion 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Business & Professional EthicsDe Paul UniversityChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Centre for Leadership and Responsibility, CEI BSShanghaiPRC

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