Most students will picture classes such as finance, accounting, management and marketing while thinking about business classes. Nevertheless, ethics class aims to impact business students to understand ethics and how to go about ethical business. In the article Can We Teach Character? An Aristotelian Answer by Edwin M. Hartman, the author talks about how business ethics can improve students’ ethics and how business students can be taught good characters instead of principles only. The author suggests prioritizing character values and traits that serve as a viable way to teach learners business ethics.
The author applies the Aristotelianism approach usually implies deductive logic to study and analyze nature and its laws. For instance, the author uses an example: a generous person can easily lend money to someone regardless of their chances of refunding it back and still will help others in worse situations (Hartman, 2006). From the example, it can be deduced that virtue (in the model -generosity) is a strong driving force behind the actions rather than principles. The author implies that character traits and values are more socially and viable ways of teaching business ethics to learners.
According to the author, these students are far able to apply critical thinking in their day-to-day activities in decision making. This helps them develop the best qualities of themselves and the community at large. Hartman supports the idea by giving us Aristotle’s answer to why generosity is a good agent. Hartman (2006) claims that “human beings are social creatures, the good life, hence good character, involves living satisfactorily in a congenial community.” Thus, one’s virtues are essentially beneficial to the whole community. He also suggested that morality requires support from one’s self-interest, psychological health, and good character.
The author further proceeds to validate the values and strengths of characters. Values are what one considerer good for oneself, and character strength is the ability to enjoy generosity and courage simultaneously (Hartman, 2006). He says mature people with values would want to be strong in character and still maintain emotions, desires, and values consistent with their goodness. Most of us tend to have less limited character strength hence cannot enjoy generosity and courage simultaneously.
The author later presents his view on the significance of virtues. First, he talks about choosing one’s interest in every aspect. He suggests that students should be taught the necessary self-control and self-knowledge to encourage them to reflect on their assumptions on what makes them happy. Hartman claims that wise persons will be rational and social (Hartman, 2006). Second, the author talks about coherence and integrity as reasons for virtue; especially for those who are coherent with integrity. Although integrity is not sufficient for virtue, it goes some distance in the right decision. He states that everyone is a communal being and needs to act humanly. Thus, one’s self-interest should be aligned with human nature, not influenced by economists.
Finally, the author raises concern on successful means of evolving desired virtues, considering humans’ social nature. Society and the surroundings are the most substantial factors shaping someone’s character and behavior (Hartman, 2006). Nevertheless, since the possibilities of experience to an organizational culture for educational objectives are limited, he proposes case studies as one of the immediate alternatives. As he states, it provides essential real-world wisdom to the learners; thus, rather than serving just like a framework, the proposed approach will combine the benefits of critical thinking and the promotion of accepted values.
The article has to some extent achieved its goal of showing that actually character can be taught. The article takes reference from Aristotle’s remarks which dictate that even though one cannot make themselves feel grateful during certain instances, they can develop the habit of being thankful in appropriate cases. First, the article claims that parental guidance and advisory plays a significant role in shaping someone’s character (Hartman, 2006). An example is guardians telling their children not to steal from others and live in constant harmony with them. This is instilled in such a way that one feels some repugnance when stealing or doing wrong, even in critical instances that justify this wrongdoing. This goes a great way in instilling discipline, thus shaping the character of someone.
Additionally, it is shown that leaders and role models come in handy in developing a person’s s character. Leaders in a particular setting dictate the mode of living of the people of that specific setting. Setting rules and regulations that govern people manage to curb evil habits in society as people tend to obey them (Hartman, 2006). Most people have role models in the community, and they aspire to acquire their positive qualities. A good manners model will influence people’s behavior as people often respect and admire them. Although integrity is not sufficient for virtue, it goes some distance in the right decision. He states that everyone is a communal being and needs to act humanly. Thus, one’s self-interest should be aligned with human nature, not influenced by economists.
Moreover, the environment in which a person is in, the article argues, greatly affects someone character. This is seen in companies and enterprises, where different environments are set. A company which instills the mindset of not being late for work in somebody instills good character in their employees. A community which also strongly opines for morals and fights vices is one of the best environments to instill good character in someone (Hartman, 2006). The book however does not outline with the use of well-illustrated examples some of its points. In as much as it is thoroughly explained through its points, relevant real-life examples should be given for at least every point in order for the reader to vividly relate with the subject.
In conclusion, it has been revealed that character can be developed in an individual. Generally, a person who analyses various case studies and tries to develop themselves increases their ability to discern good character. However, somebody’s ability in their moral imagination is not enough to apply it on the ground as it is only imagination. At the end of the day, learning character cannot enforce itself in a person as it entirely depends upon the person to choose for themselves how to behave. Time too is of cardinal essence since it incorporates into someone the rich experience in decision making and good character development.
Further research could also be done on how the intellectual capacity of someone affects their behavior. Such should be done at the various levels of education a person is in. This reading is of great importance as it invokes in someone the need to be able to be taught by the community and to teach oneself good character. It also serves as a tool to educate us on how we actually can be taught this character.
Hartman, E. M. (2006). Can We Teach Character? An Aristotle Answer. Sage