All posts by Theodore Scaltsas

The Paradigm-Model of Corporate Culture

 

 

Dr, Theodore Scaltsas is professor of Philosophy,  University of Edinburgh



 

Mr Owen Kelly, OBE, Director of Engagement, Business School

 

 

 

Ms Shannon Chen, Postgraduate Researcher, Philosophy

 

 

University of Edinburgh, Scoltland

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Everybody wants to put more accountability into business; but this seems much easier said than done. For example, David Rock summarizes three different attempts to introduce values in corporate personnel behavior, and laments their lack of success by attributing the shortcomings to the innate complexity, if not irrationality, of human decision making (‘The Business of Values’). We take a more upbeat stance on human nature here, believing that society and its institutions can be guided by values – there is ample evidence of this among developing and developed cultures, and we do not think there is anything making us unfit for it.

Is, then, our current, less-than-ethical corporate behaviour a riddle that defies explanation? If we are capable of value-guided behaviour, why don’t we practice it in corporate environments? We believe there is an explanation for this. Personal and social values are built into our character, as Aristotle explained; they are acquired by training and habituation in early age, and exhibit themselves in our dispositions to feel, to decide, and to act in accordance with them. This is what Binta Niambi Brown discovered, when she felt impelled to disclose to her client crucial information that emerged just as the deal was being struck; “Even if the deal had been blown up for good, honest reasons rooted in decent integrity and morality” disposed her to reveal the information.

Continue reading The Paradigm-Model of Corporate Culture

Reciprocity and Justice: What Aristotle tells us about it!

Professor Theodore Scaltsas holds the Chair of Ancient Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh. He started his professional career at Oxford University, after receiving his degrees at Oxford, Brandeis and Duke universities. He specialises in Ancient Greek philosophy, and in innovative applications of Information Technology to abstract thought. He has held Research Fellowships at Harvard, Princeton, and Sydney universities. His publications focus on Aristotle, and extend to Plato, Socrates, Zeno and the Stoics.

In his Ethics Aristotle says:

“Of particular justice, one kind is that which is manifested in distributions of honour or money or the other things that fall to be divided among those who have a share in the constitution, and one is that which plays a rectifying part in transactions between man and man”.

Aristotle describes the range of application of the second kind — rectificatory justice — as extending to transactions of sale, purchase, loan for consumption, pledging, loan for use, depositing, and letting, as well as to such actions as theft, adultery, poisoning, procuring, enticement of slaves, assassination, false witness, assault, imprisonment, murder, robbery with violence, mutilation, insult.  The list is substantial, and between them distributive and rectificatory justice seem to provide a full spectrum for covering all cases of distribution of goods, exchange of goods and rectification for harm done.  My concern in this paper is to provide new arguments in support of the position that there is a domain for the application of justice which is not covered either by distributive or by rectificatory justice.  This is the domain of reciprocal justice, which is introduced by Aristotle to complement the other two.  One sector of this domain consists of acts of injustice, and the other, of exchanges of goods in society.  I shall first be concerned with the meaning of ‘reciprocity’ for Aristotle.  Then I shall argue that, according to Aristotle, reciprocal justice fills a gap left by distributive and rectificatory justice.  I shall finally offer a utilitarian argument, not offered by Aristotle but needed for his position, to distinguish between reciprocal and rectificatory justice. Continue reading Reciprocity and Justice: What Aristotle tells us about it!