East Meets West: Universal Ethic of Virtue for Global Business

Topics: Virtue, Ethics, Virtue ethics Pages: 2 (625 words) Published: March 22, 2014
East Meets West: Toward a Universal Ethic of Virtue for Global Business

Some Western cultures operate upon an individualistic rights-centered morality, while Eastern cultures favor a more community-centered ethic of virtue (Wong 1984). There is no universal ethic. In particular, it is recognized that the Western thinker Aristotle and his virtue ethic strongly resembles that of the Eastern thinker Confucius. This similarity suggests that a universal virtue ethic may already exist in the form of a powerful shared strand of moral thinking. When we adopt a virtue ethics perspective, we discover that East and West are always potentially meeting insofar as their virtues share a natural basis and structure. Since, for Aristotle, judgment rests with perception, and since perception is informed by experience, Aristotle, like Hume, sees experience as partly grounding our ethical judgments (Aristotle 1985, 1103a24-b23). Ethical relativists often get mesmerized by the details and fail to look for the overarching ethical good and/or virtue underpinning diverse human practices. People in these societies reason when it comes to questions of virtue and of the common and individual good and to consider what ethical resources (legends, traditions, religious precepts, etc.) are available to members of this society for contesting, rethinking, and refining their virtues, practices, and choices. For Aristotle, virtue is arête, a Greek word meaning “excellence.” Confucius’ word for virtue is ren, a word with similar connotations of elevation. For Confucius and for Aristotle, virtue is an excellence of humanity as such, and hence is transmittable from person to person. Aristotle and Confucius are in agreement: Virtue entails building upon natural powers and endowments. For Aristotle, becoming virtuous means developing habits that enable us to fulfill our distinctive human function. Specific virtues differ from full virtue because the latter stems from phronesis or practical wisdom....
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