Advertisement

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)

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Philosophical anthropology Business ethics Virtues Wisdom Hobbes Hegel Institutionalist economics 

References

  1. Berger PL, Luckmann T (1966) The social construction of reality. Penguin, HarmondsworthGoogle Scholar
  2. Bourdieu P (1998) Acts of resistance: against the tyranny of the market (trans: Nice R). New Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  3. Bourdieu P (2003) Firing back: against the tyranny of the market 2 (trans: Wacquant L). Verso, LondonGoogle Scholar
  4. Bourdieu P (2005) The social structures of the economy (trans: Turner C). Polity Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  5. Chang H-J (2004) Reclaiming development: an alternative economic policy manual. Zed Books, LondonGoogle Scholar
  6. Chang H-J (2007) Institutional change and economic development: an introduction, Chapter 1. In: Chang H-J (ed) Institutional change and economic development. Anthem Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  7. Chang H-J (2011) 23 things they don’t tell you about capitalism. Penguin, HarmondsworthGoogle Scholar
  8. Chia RCH, Holt R (2009) Strategy without design: the silent efficacy of indirect action. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dibben MR (2000) Exploring interpersonal trust in the entrepreneurial venture. Macmillan, HoundsmillsCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gare A (2009) Philosophical anthropology, ethics and political philosophy in an age of impending catastrophe. Cosmos Hist 5(2):264–286Google Scholar
  11. Gare A (2011) From Kant to Schelling to process metaphysics: on the way to ecological civilization. Cosmos Hist 7(2):26–69Google Scholar
  12. Gare A (2016a) The centrality of philosophical anthropology to (a future) environmental ethics (or La centralidad de la antropología filosófica para una (futura) ética ambiental’). Cuademos de Bioética (special edition on ‘The Future of Environmental Ethics’), Número 91, Revista cuatrimestral de investigación, XXVII, septiembre-diciembre, 299–317Google Scholar
  13. Gare A (2016b) The philosophical foundation of ecological civilization: a manifesto for the future. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  14. Gehlen A (1968) An anthropological model. Hum Context 1(1):11–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hobbes T (1651/1985) Leviathan. Penguin, HarmondsworthGoogle Scholar
  16. Hoffmeyer J (1996) Signs of meaning in the universe (trans: Haveland BJ). Indiana University Press, BloomingtonGoogle Scholar
  17. Honneth A, Joas H (1988) Social action and human nature. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  18. Hooker CA (1982) Scientific neutrality versus normative learning: the theoretician’s and politician’s dilemma. In: Oldroyd D (ed) Science and ethics. New South Wales University Press, Kensington, pp 8–33Google Scholar
  19. Kant I [ ] [1800] (2005) Introduction to logic (trans: Abbott TK). Barnes & Noble, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  20. Korten DC (2015) Change the story, change the future: a living economy for a living Earth. Berrett-Koehler, OaklandGoogle Scholar
  21. Lamprecht SP (1946) Metaphysics: its function, consequences, and criteria. J Philos XLIII(15): 393–401CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. MacIntyre A (2007) After virtue, 3rd edn. University of Notre Dame Press, Notre DameGoogle Scholar
  23. Mead GH (1934) In: Morris CW (ed) Mind, self, & society. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  24. North DC (1990) Institutions, institutional change and economic performance. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Pascale RT, Athos AG (1982) The art of Japanese management. Penguin Books, LondonGoogle Scholar
  26. Pettifor A (2017) The production of money: how to break the power of bankers. Verso, LondonGoogle Scholar
  27. Plehwe D, Walpen B, Neunhöffer G (eds) (2006) Neoliberal hegemony: a global critique. Routledge, Milton ParkGoogle Scholar
  28. Reinert ES (2007a) How rich countries got rich … and why poor countries stay poor. Carrol & Graf, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  29. Reinert ES (2007b) Institutionalism ancient, old, and new: a historical perspective on institutions and uneven development, Chapter 4. In: Chang H-J (ed) Institutional change and economic development. Anthem Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  30. Salthe S (2005) The natural philosophy of ecology: developmental systems ecology. Ecol Complex 2:1–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Skinner Q (2008) Hobbes and republican liberty. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  32. Solomon RC (1993) Ethics and excellence: cooperation and integrity in business. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  33. Solomon RC (1994) Above the bottom line: an introduction to business ethics. Harcourt Brace, Fort WorthGoogle Scholar
  34. Ulanowicz RE (1997) Ecology: the ascendent perspective. Columbia University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  35. Vatn A (2005) Institutions and the environment. Edward Elgar, CheltenhamGoogle Scholar
  36. von Humboldt W (1963) Humanist without portfolio (trans and ed: Cowan M). Wayne State University, DetroitGoogle Scholar
  37. Zammito JH (2002) Kant, herder, & the birth of anthropology. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations