Leadership and Virtue

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Leadership and Virtue

  1. 1. Leadership and Virtue. Aristotle v. The Ford Pinto
  2. 2. Utilitarianism and Business.  Utilitarianism ◦ The idea that the greatest amount of ‘good’ should be created for the greatest amount of people. ◦ Good is defined as pleasure or the ‘cessation of pain’.  It is believed today that the ‘free market’ as created by Adam Smith creates the most amount of good(s) for the most amount of Americans. ◦ In other words, ‘market democracy’ is the most efficient way of making people happy.
  3. 3. Utilitarianism and Business.  Current economic theory is based upon Preference Utilarianism where happiness is created when a preference is met by a consumer. ◦ It is believed by ‘liberals’ that education was valuable to ensure that proper preferences were being instilled in pupils.  The father of ‘Utilitarianism’, Jeremy Bentham, believed that “Money is the most accurate measure of the quantity of pain or pleasure a man can be made to receive.” ◦ In other words, money is the greatest measurement of happiness.
  4. 4. The Ford Pinto.  1971 – 1980  Two thousand pounds.  Under $2,000  Over two million built and sold.  Originally sold under the tagline: ”The Little carefree car.”
  5. 5. Controversy and the Pinto.  In 1977 Mother Jones published “Pinto Madness”  From design to production in 25 months. ◦ Normal times were approximately 43 months.  Because of this time frame ‘tooling’ became a large issue.  The gas tank was placed behind the axle. ◦ This was standard for other sub compacts at the time.  1969 crash test revealed issues with tank placement and design. ◦ Filler pipe removal and tank puncturing in rear impacts of 20 mph resulted in fuel spills.
  6. 6. Controversy and the Pinto.
  7. 7. Controversy and the Pinto.  1972 additional crash tests were performed where modifications to the tank prevented fuel leakage: ◦ Rubber bladders inside the tank. ◦ Rails to strengthen the frame. ◦ A plastic barrier between differential and tank.  Somewhere between 200 and 900 burn deaths resulted from ruptured fuel tanks.  A cost benefit analysis was done to evaluate a potential recall of the Ford Pinto. ◦ Human life, an ‘externality’ was attempted to be made a commodity, or an ‘internality’.
  8. 8. Controversy and The Pinto  In 1978 the NHTSA made an initial determination that the Pinto’s fuel system had a safety defect.  By 1978 pressure had become great enough that Ford recalled 1.5 million Pinto’s and 30,000 Ford Bobcat’s. ◦ Two plastic shields, a different gas cap and a longer fill tube were added.
  9. 9. “The Ford Pinto Memo.”
  10. 10. Andrew Carnegie “To continue much longer overwhelmed by business cares and with most of my thoughts wholly upon the way to make money in the shortest time must degrade me beyond hope of permanent recovery.”
  11. 11. Aristotle and Virtue Ethics.  Aristotle wrote two ethical treatises: the Nicomachean Ethics and the Eudemian Ethics. ◦ These two works cover nearly the same ground: ◦ Beginning with a discussion of eudaimonia ( "happiness," "flourishing") ◦ Turning to an examination of the nature of aretê ("virtue," "excellence“).  The character traits that human beings need in order to live life at its best.
  12. 12. Ethical knowledge is not certain knowledge.  “Our treatment will be adequate if we make it as precise as the subject matter allows. The same degree of accuracy should not be demanded in all inquiries any more than in all the products of craftsmen. Virtue and justice – the subject matter of politics – admit plenty of differences and uncertainty…  Then, since our discussion is about, and proceeds from, matters of this sort, we must be content with indicating the truth in broad general outline… The educated man looks for as much precision in each subject as the nature of the subject allows.” ◦ (Nicomachean Ethics 1.3)
  13. 13. What is the Goal of Ethics?  No one tries to live well for the sake of some further goal. ◦ Having a good life is the highest end.  All subordinate goals -- health, wealth, and other such resources -- are sought because they promote well-being, not because they are what well-being consists in.  The Final Cause of Ethics is to live a good life. ◦ Eudaimonia" ("happiness") and "eu zên" ("living well") are the two goals of Ethics.  Note, these two goals are one in the same for Aristotle. ◦ Living well = happiness.  He says, not that happiness is virtue, but that it is virtuous activity. ◦ But unless we can determine which good or goods happiness consists in, it is of little use to acknowledge that it is the highest end.  To resolve this issue, Aristotle asks what the ergon ("function") of a human being is. ◦ Aristotle argues that it consists in activity of the rational part of the soul in accordance with virtue.
  14. 14. The Soul? (A sidebar)  The soul is analyzed into a connected series of capacities: ◦ The Nutritive Soul is responsible for growth and reproduction. ◦ The Perceptive Soul is for perception. ◦ The Rational Soul is for thinking.  These correspond with the three great classes of living things (things with souls) ◦ Plants. ◦ Animals. ◦ Human Beings.  The good of a human being must have something to do with being human; and what makes us different is our ability to reason (nous).  Therefore, living well, for humans, requires virtue or excellence, and therefore consists in activities caused by the rational soul in accordance with virtue or excellence.
  15. 15. Two kinds of Virtue.  Aristotle distinguishes two kinds of virtue: ◦ Those that pertain to the part of the soul that engages in reasoning (virtues of mind or intellect)  Intellectual virtues are in turn divided into two sorts: ◦ Those that pertain to theoretical reasoning. ◦ Those that pertain to practical thinking. ◦ Those that pertain to the part of the soul that are capable of following reason (ethical virtues, virtues of character).
  16. 16. Hexis and the Golden Mean.  Aristotle then believes that Ethical Virtue is a disposition (hexis) that can be learned. ◦ Education of Ethics leads to tendencies or dispositions, induced by our habits, to have appropriate feelings.  Every ethical virtue is a condition intermediate between two other states: ◦ Excess. ◦ Deficiency.  In this respect, Aristotle says, the virtues are no different from technical skills. ◦ The courageous person judges that some dangers are worth facing and others not, and experiences fear to a degree that is appropriate to his circumstances.  He lies between the coward, who flees every danger and experiences excessive fear, and the rash person, who judges every danger worth facing and experiences little or no fear.  Finding the mean in any given situation is not a mechanical or thoughtless procedure, but requires a full and detailed acquaintance with the circumstances (i.e. Experience)
  17. 17. Hexis v. Cost / Benefit.  The whole person and their entire life is considered.  Each virtue (courage, honesty, frugality, safety…) is measured by the Golden Mean.  These virtues are then balanced with each other along the entire person.  The guiding goal is to become an excellent person.  The cost (pain) of any action (or rule made from an action) is weighed against the benefit (pleasure) that is created.  Each persons pleasure is to be considered equal.  If greater pleasure is created by an action than pain – the action is deemed right.  Pleasure and pain are measured in terms of money / goods in the market system.

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