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Economics and the VirtuesBuilding a New Moral Foundation$
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Jennifer A. Baker and Mark D. White

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198701392

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198701392.001.0001

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Virtues of Productivity versus Technicist Rationality

Virtues of Productivity versus Technicist Rationality

Chapter:
(p.185) Chapter 9 Virtues of Productivity versus Technicist Rationality
Source:
Economics and the Virtues
Author(s):

Christine Swanton

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198701392.003.0010

According to Alasdair MacIntyre, business cannot be a practice conducive to and exemplifying virtue because it is an institution concerned with profit as an “external good” dominated by technicist rationality. It is argued in this chapter that, although profit is a good internal to business, it should be understood, if it is to be such a good, as one exemplifying productive virtue. This idea is explained via Aristotle’s distinction between phronēsis (practical wisdom) essential to virtue, and technê, which has given rise to a narrow notion of technicist rationality, which is traditionally thought to apply to production (poesis) as opposed to action (praxis), the domain of ethics. It is argued (along with Ayn Rand) that productive rationality is at the heart of human nature and that virtues such as justice, integrity, industriousness, and creativity should be applied to the realm of production, including the profit-making enterprises of business.

Keywords:   virtue, productive virtue, Alasdair MacIntyre, Ayn Rand, Aristotle, rationality, practice

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