Individual Ethics

Topics: Virtue / Pages: 34 (8456 words) / Published: Nov 10th, 2011


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Individual Ethics
The Virtue of Prudence
Jean M. Bartunek Jordi Trullen

n this chapter, we focus on practical wisdom, a characteristic proper to individuals. Practical wisdom is also called phronesis (Aristotle’s term) or prudence (the term introduced by Thomas Aquinas that is in most use by those focusing on virtue). We do so from social science, philosophical, and theological perspectives on virtue. Practical wisdom or prudence lies in the interstices of intellectual and moral virtues—of the theoretical and the practical domains. Hence, it is very important for both management theory and management practice. Social science findings are often of limited use when dealing with real-life problems (Flyvbjerg, 2001), and many human decisions deal with moral dilemmas. Prudence is directly pertinent to such problems and dilemmas (Statler & Roos, 2006) and responds to ambiguities in a way that traditional management science often cannot. We begin by describing the concept of virtue and introducing some types of virtues. We situate wisdom and then practical wisdom/prudence within this discussion. We then consider examples of prudence and make some recommendations about how it may be developed.

___________________________ Virtues and Practical Wisdom
There is growing attention to virtue on the part of social scientists, especially those concerned with positive psychology or positive organizational science.
AUTHORS’ NOTE: We are grateful to James Bailey, James Keenan, and Eric Kessler for their helpful suggestions. 91



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For example, Peterson and Seligman (2003) recently authored a handbook of character strengths and virtues. There was also a special issue on virtuousness in the journal American Behavioral Scientist (Fowers & Tjeltveit, 2003). In the introduction to that issue, Fowers and Tjeltveit (2003) suggested that

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