Ed Hartman’s SBE Presidential Address

(I’m still blogging “live” from the Society for Business Ethics conference.)

Lunch today at the SBE featured Ed Hartman’s Presidential Address, entitled “Reconciliation in Business Ethics: Some Lessons From Aristotle.” The reconciliation Ed talked about is his proposed reconciliation between fact-based disciplines such as Organizational Behaviour and Organizational Theory (which are about the way things are in business organizations) and the normative discipline of ethics (about how things ought to be). Ed reminded us that part of the reason that ethics is treated as a separate (and often optional) set of issues, separate from “business” decisions, has to do with an arguably faulty separation of purely factual and purely normative issues in the minds of many (but thankfully not all) businesspeople. He called upon us to recall how often normatively-laden descriptions affect our descriptions of “facts,” and the many ways in which the facts of situations affect our moral interpretations of specific actions.

It was a good, and thought-provoking talk, and I suspect further attempt at summary wouldn’t do it justice. If you want to hear more of Ed’s view, check out his books:
Organizational Ethics and the Good Life (Oxford University Press, 1996)
Conceptual Foundations of Organization Theory (Ballinger, 1988)
Substance, Body, and Soul: Aristotelian Investigations (Princeton University Press) (Princeton University Press, 1978)

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