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Three Different Approaches to Virtue in Business―Aristotle, Confucius, and Lao Zi

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The proposed paper presents an overview on the matter of virtue from different philosophical angles. It concentrates on three different schools of thought coming from the West and the East and their respective concepts of virtue. These schools of thought and the therewith-associated personalities and works discussed in this paper are Aristotelian virtue ethics, Confucianism and Daoism. The paper focuses specifically on the Nicomachean Ethics (NE) by Aristotle, the Analects belonging to Confucianism, and the Dao De Jing coming from Daoism. The paper is divided into three major parts. First, the concept of virtue of each school is outlined. In the second part, the concrete virtues as such according to each school are explained. In the third part, these virtues are then applied in specific business contexts like business practice, corporate culture and leadership, illuminating each school’s characteristic approach. The paper closes with a summary and conclusion. In the conclusion the paper outlines differences as well as similarities between Aristotelian and Confucian virtue ethics. Yet, the author generally takes a critical stance towards comparisons merely for the sake of finding similarities. Particularly between Aristotelian and Confucian virtue ethics there is a significant difference when it comes to the cultural and historical background of these schools, which should not be ignored. Besides, even within Chinese philosophy there are already significant differences when it comes to concepts and practice.

Affiliations: 1: School of Management, Harbin Institute of Technology, Shenzhen Graduate School, HIT Campus


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