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The Ruffin Series of the Society for Business Ethics

Volume 4, 2004

Business, Science, and Ethics

Edwin M. Hartman
Pages 201-220

De Rerum Natura

Aristotelian naturalism is a good vantage point from which to consider the moral implications of evolution. Sociobiologists err in arguing that evolution is the basis for morality: not all or only moral features and institutions are selected for. Nor does the longevity of an institution argue for its moral status. On the other hand, facts about human capacities can have implications concerning human obligations, as Aristotle suggests. Aristotle’s eudaimonistic approach to ethics suggests that the notion of interests is far subtler than many have realized, and leaves open the possibility that cooperativeness may be adaptive, virtuous, and a good thing for the agent. Lawrence and Nohria argue along remarkably similar lines, and they provide evidence against those who would question the existence of character. But promising as the Aristotelian approach is, it seems to give an inadequate account of our moral responsibility to those who are not members of our community.

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