Practices, Governance, and Politics: Applying MacIntyre’s Ethics to Business

Business Ethics Quarterly 24 (2):229-249 (2014)
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Abstract
This paper argues that attempts to apply Alasdair MacIntyre’s positive moral theory to business ethics are problematic, due to the cognitive closure of MacIntyre’s concept of a practice. I begin by outlining the notion of a practice, before turning to Moore’s attempt to provide a MacIntyrean account of corporate governance. I argue that Moore’s attempt is mismatched with MacIntyre’s account of moral education. Because the notion of practices resists general application I go on to argue that a negative application, which focuses on regulation, is more plausible. Large-scale regulation, usually thought antithetical to MacIntyre’s advocacy of small-scale politics, has the potential to facilitate practice-based work and reveals that MacIntyre’s own work can be used against his pessimism about the modern order. Furthermore, the conception of regulation I defend can show us how management is more amenable to ethical understanding than MacIntyre’s work is often taken to imply.
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