Business Ethics

Business Ethics

Do you believe that virtue (character) can be taught or acquired through a person’s lifetime?

Yes, I believe that virtue can be taught through a person’s lifetime. In adulthood especially, some character can be acquired through negative or positive experiences and conditioning. One may continually train himself to avoid the decisions and behavior that are unethical or will bear undesirable consequences. For instance, if a person who has been prone to greedy tendencies is employed in a company that has zero-tolerance towards greed and corruption, he will be forced to act ethically or face the consequences of his behavior. This shows that an individual’s character may be altered and shaped by his environment. A company that sets unrealistically high goals for its employees might force otherwise virtuous persons to compromise their values (Appiah, 2008).

Some character however, cannot be easily changed because is acquired and learned in childhood, therefore is deeply ingrained in the core of one’s personality. Character is highly dependent on an individual’s personality. Personality comprises of the person’s attitudes, dispositions, repeated behavior and relationships. It also goes hand-in-hand with identity, which cannot be changed because it is the primary constituent of who a person really is. Character is therefore like a habit, through constant repetition it becomes a key element of who an individual is. From previous experience, I have observed that character can be learnt, but in order to acquire new character it needs relentless motivation and effort to unlearn one behavior and replace it with another. For instance, if I want to be more honest in business, I have to practice it consistently for a period of time during which I will resist any temptation to be dishonest.



Appiah, A. (2008). Experiments in ethics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.






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