Philosophical Anthropology and Business Ethics

Reviving the Virtue of Wisdom
  • Arran GareEmail author
Living reference work entry
Part of the Handbooks in Philosophy book series (HP)


Underpinning all our judgments about how to live and how to act is our conception of what we are as human beings. As discussed in “Creating an Effective Business Ethics,” entrenched assumptions about human nature deriving from the philosophies of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke are embodied in business practices where neoliberal ideology is dominant. It has been reinforced and virtually placed beyond questioning, not only by the triumph of neoliberal managerialism, which identifies “good” with profitability in an unconstrained market, but by the fragmentation of philosophy itself, which, by accepting the separation of science and the humanities, excludes possibilities for challenging the assumptions on which neoliberal managerialism is based. This chapter continues the virtue ethics project by focusing on philosophical anthropology as the discipline that investigates questions such as “What are humans?” “What are their potentialities?” “Which potentialities should be realized?” and “How should we make these potentialities prevail?” It is argued here that philosophical anthropology, inspired by the quest for self-knowledge as central to developing the virtue of wisdom, challenges the Hobbesian/Lockean tradition and can replace it, with better results for a more ethical society and more ethical business. Reacting against this tradition, leading philosophical anthropologists have argued that humans are essentially cultural beings, creating themselves and their institutions, their relations to others, to society, and to nature, through the concepts they develop, embrace, and assume in their actions. These concepts can be questioned and modified or replaced, in search for wisdom and for living wisely. Superior concepts are those that do more justice to the potentialities of humans and other life forms, and that can more successfully orient people to create the future. It is through philosophical anthropology that traditional virtues can be revived and effectively defended: Our challenge is not only to develop better concepts to orient ourselves but to show how these concepts can be acted upon and thus incorporated into social reality (and ultimately, physical reality). The implications of philosophical anthropology for business ethics are discussed in this context.


Philosophical anthropology Business ethics Virtues Wisdom Hobbes Hegel Institutionalist economics 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Swinburne University of TechnologyMelbourneAustralia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Cristina Neesham
    • 1
  • Rob Macklin
    • 2
  1. 1.Swinburne University of TechnologyMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.University of TasmaniaHobartAustralia

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