Lesson on Business ethics from Aristotle


aristotleOne would always think that what would a person who is dead for over 2000 years know about modern business and ethics. Well, Aristotle is considered to be the most knowledgeable and practical philosophers of all time. He always questioned the use of ethics in leadership and day-to-day life. Though his teachings would give us a broader understanding of the overall concept of ethics and virtue, it is important to take note of some of his prominent discussions on the subject of business ethics.

In his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle realizes that the role of the leader is to create a healthy working environment in which all members of an organization have the opportunity to realize their own potential. According to his theory, any organization that demonstrates ethical ways of doing business will eventually benefit its shareholders, its employees, and the economy in general and will help them achieve their long term goals.

According to Aristotle, the highest good for humans and the heights aim of all practical thinking is eudaimonia, a Greek word often translated as well-being or happiness. He asserts that an excellent human will be a person who lives his life beautifully and in well being. Aristotle says that such a person would also be a serious human being. In relation to the business ethics, he says that the ethical role of the leader is not to enhance their own power but to create the conditions under which followers can achieve their potential too.

His theories have brought about a lot of questions in the minds of entrepreneurs and business owners, one of them being: am I behaving virtuous? Further, a feeling of equality and justice comes into our mind, when we ask ourselves: How would I want to be treated if I were a member of this organization?

In relation to the above questions, he also raises a lot of useful inquiries about rewarding in organizations based on the ethical principle of recognizing people proportionate to their contributions. The point that he is trying to make is that a leader who ignores ethics, virtue and wisdom will never flourish in the long run. Even while planning an enterprise or business, as business owners we should be able to analyze the overall objectives and sync it with the value of ethics and virtue. The bottom line being that, we need to ask ourselves probing questions that help us keep a check on our ethical business behaviors.

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