Business Ethics And Aristotle Virtue In The Workplace Essay

Length: 7 pages Sources: 3 Type: Essay Paper: #13451344 Related Topics: Virtue Ethics, Business World, Ethical Egoism, Agency Theory Published October 21, 2022
Excerpt from Essay :

Reflection on Hobbes


In The Misery of the Natural Condition of Mankind Hobbes begins by arguing that equality exists among men in spite of physical and intellectual differences. He states that even the weakest can conspire to kill the strongest so that the same threat to both exists for both. It is from this innate equality, Hobbes contends, that ariseth equality of hope of our ends (Hobbes, p. 12). The problem, as Hobbes sees it, is that two men who desire the same thing cannot both enjoy and therefore they are doomed to become enemies. There is of course a high degree of presumption in his view, and it is unfettered by any religious assumptionssuch as the view that some desire heaven and believe that all can obtain itbut Hobbes appears to be talking strictly of physical objects that men desire. Still he represents life as a zero sum game in which there can be only one winner when all participants are vying for the same prize. In fact, the whole of Hobbes thinking is characterized by the zero sum game mentality. This paper will provide a reflection on Hobbes writing and relate it to business ethics.

What Hobbes Says

Thus, according to Hobbes, men are concerned with power, with having power over one another, and this concern occupies a great deal of their time and energy: competition, diffidence, and glory are the main factors that cause quarrels among them, as Hobbes notes. When men compete, they do so to gain what only one of them can have. When diffidence is the factor they quarrel over matters of safety and security. When they quarrel over matters of pride or personal honor, they matter is one of glory. This is how Hobbes defines the nature of mans situation on earth. It is somewhat narrow, however, in that it does not consider that men might quarrel over matters of truth, of what they perceive to be true, and over what they believe to be right.

For instance, when Gandhi was assassinated in India, it was not by a Muslim but by a Hindu nationalist who believed that Gandhi was betraying India into the hands of Islam by recommending that the newly independent state be led by a non-Hindu. This was a matter of belief about what was right; it had nothing to do with competition, diffidence, or gloryit was very much, instead, a matter of religious perspective. In fact, religious perspective is very often the big reason people fight. Malcolm X was assassinated for speaking out against the prophet Elijah Mohammad. Martin Luther King, Jr., was thrown into prison for putting his religious beliefs into practice on the streets in the South. Hobbes has a view, however, that is much more focused on Enlightenment idealsequality, liberty, and fraternity, as though these were the prime motivators of human experience. They were the prime motivators, according to Enlightenment philosophers, but they were largely novel at the time and have not aged well in the light of the 20th and now 21st centuries; rather, it appears to be true that Orwell had a better understanding of human motivation in terms of the individuals relationship to the state.

But what does Hobbes say of peace? He says passion is what inclines men to peace. Yet if it is passion that inclines men to war, how is it also passion that inclines men to peace? It seems contradictory to say so. He lists fear as one passion that inclines men to peace (fear of death), yet shouldnt such a passion just as easily incline one to war (over the safety concernwhich Hobbes has already said is one reason men fight)? Hobbes does not seem to be following any sort of logic. He lists another passion as desiredesire for commodious living; but this could easily become a passion that leads to quarreling; and so it goes too with the passion of hopeful industry. Hobbes is not really saying anything that really has a classical philosophical character to it but rather seems to be writing in a fanciful manner, similar to what other Romantic Enlightenment modern philosophers do,…desire for gain. Honor and integrity also play a huge part in the business world, and for a person to do well and for an organization to succeed as it should, the person really has to have a solid basis of integrity and honor.

Fear of death will not help one to succeed as it is often fear of failing that prevents one from innovating and trying out new ideas in the marketplace. Businesses that do not innovate end up stagnating and getting left behind by the marketplace. They need to be able to come up with new ideas, develop new products, and pitch new services to see what works. But if a business is too scared to try new things it will be like the person Hobbes describes as being scared of death, and in the end he will be swallowed by death because he did not try to overcome it.

Yet Hobbes argues that fear of death is one passion that men have that might be a cause of peace. This is unlikely to apply in business; but perhaps it could be applied in business ethics, if one sees death as a matter that will lead to judgment and then one might look at things more objectively and honestly and try to act in a way that benefits all. It is when people look at things too subjectively and emphasize their own personal perspective over all others that problems tend to arise.


Hobbes writing does not offer much in the way of supporting business ethics, other than when it comes to how competitive the orld can be, how people tend to be self-interested, and how personal honor can be a motivator for quarreling. However, one has agency theory and ethical perspectives such as virtue ethics and duty ethics to help provide context for analyzing what Hobbes is saying. Hobbes is writing out of the Enlightenment era, but for classical ethical theory there is much more logic to be found in Aristotle and more relevant business writings to be applied in ethics from the standpoint…

Sources Used in Documents:


Eisenhardt, K. M. (1989). Agency theory: An assessment and review. Academy ofmanagement review, 14(1), 57-74.

Hobbes, T. (n.d.). The Misery of the Natural Condition of Mankind. PDF.

Jensen, M., & Meckling, W. (1976) Theory of the firm: Managerial behavior, agencycosts, and ownership structure. Journal of Financial Economics, 3, 305-360.

Cite this Document:

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