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We argue that Oskar Schindler is a moral exemplar. Oskar Schindler and other moral exemplars should, according to Mayo, be emulated. Emulating Schindler when he acted as a…
We argue that Oskar Schindler is a moral exemplar. Oskar Schindler and other moral exemplars should, according to Mayo, be emulated. Emulating Schindler when he acted as a moral exemplar could have led to others’ being helped during truly terrible times. Yet, had officialdom at that time known what Schindler was doing, he would have lost his life, and the lives of the many others he was able to save – as well as their progeny – would also have been lost. Thus, we underscore that it can be extraordinarily difficult for someone to be recognised as a moral exemplar when a moral exemplar is so desperately needed.
A proposed typology of moral exemplars in business highlights instances selected to illustrate standards for inclusion. The typology distinguishes among champions, heroes, and saints as different kinds of business exemplars. The typology reflects variations in both specific decision conditions and moral value emphases of business actors. The typology also differentiates moral exemplars from moral neutrals (i.e., amoral actors) and moral sinners (i.e., moral value scofflaws). The objective is to advance understanding of moral character and moral courage in business settings.
The methodology combines original conceptual argument and brief case summaries taken from available literature. The chapter is not a systematic survey of literature but cites key works. Construction of the typology involved iteration between conceptual development and case interpretation.
The chapter separates business cases into private business and public business, and applies Adam Smith’s distinction between citizenship and good citizenship. An additional distinction is made between extreme conditions and normal conditions. Moral heroism in business is restricted to life-and-death or strongly analogous situations in extreme conditions such as hazardous whistleblowing. Moral sainthood in business involves extreme maximization of a single value going far beyond simple compliance with legal requirements and typical ethical norms – Smith’s definition of citizenship. Moral championing in business concerns some degree of lesser self-sacrifice in defense of important values reflecting Smith’s definition of good citizenship.
Research Limitations and Implications
The chapter is a selection of literature undertaken in iteration with the conceptual development effort. The original research aspect of the chapter is thus quite limited. The author is not positioned to judge the accuracy of published information, for or against a particular instance. The classifications thus depend on whether the instance would, if the generally reported facts are basically accurate, serve as a reasonable illustration of standards for inclusion. Criticisms have been made concerning some of the instances discussed here.
The emphasis is on providing standards for defining moral exemplars for business to suggest how much can be accomplished in business through moral influence.
The conceptual contribution is original, although drawing on the philosophical literature debate about saints and heroes. The chapter treats exemplar as the overarching construct, separated into three kinds: heroes, saints, and champions. Sinner is implicit in the notion of saint. The chapter adds moral champions and moral neutrals to isolate moral heroism. The cases exist in the literature, but have been combined together here for the first time.
Exemplars play a central role in business ethics and ethical decision-making. In general terms, an exemplar is defined as ‘a person or thing to be copied’ and can include…
Exemplars play a central role in business ethics and ethical decision-making. In general terms, an exemplar is defined as ‘a person or thing to be copied’ and can include persons who have their sense of moral commitment as a core part of their sense of self, take a principled personal stand or a role model or an organisation committed to certain moral standards or other things such as case studies, anecdotes, and even fables and myths. Researchers have used different approaches to explain the role of exemplars in decision-making in general and ethical decision-making in particular. This paper presents evidence of SME managers acknowledging the role of exemplars in the management of their businesses and in their ethical decision-making processes.
Semi-structured, open-ended interviews were conducted in an exploratory manner with 20 owners/senior managers of SMEs in Australia. Two types of exemplars were identified in the analysis – individual and organisational, and indicated the prominence of individual exemplars over organisational exemplars. Analysis also suggests the use of multiple exemplars, learning moral behaviours, getting inspired, learning ethical decision-making skills and the ability to retrieve exemplar representations from memory to influence judgements and decisions.
This study provides an insight into one of the methods employed by SME managers in ethical decision-making. Findings could be useful in making SME managers aware of their penchant of using exemplars. The paper contributes to the knowledge in the area of one of the many methods that SME managers use in ethical decision-making.
Moral exemplars provide us with important case studies of optimal moral flourishing. Although most historians rate Abraham Lincoln as the most moral American president…
Moral exemplars provide us with important case studies of optimal moral flourishing. Although most historians rate Abraham Lincoln as the most moral American president, their analyses do not utilize the perspective of moral development theory or research. This project asked whether such a perspective could contribute to a better understanding of Lincoln’s abundantly well-examined self and actions. This study examined the moral self of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln through close textual analysis of his brief autobiographical writings and his ethical turning point, his 1854 Peoria Speech attacking the morality of slavery. Even the limited sample of one major speech and three brief writings about life events provided evidence for the usefulness of McAdams’ method of examining life narratives for central themes and textual elements and for Colby and Damon’s (1992) method of interviewing exemplars and identifying common traits. Our methods allowed for no carefully constructed interview or clarification questions but rather relied on historical texts constructed for political goals. Major figures in the exploration of moral selves suggest that the centrality of morality to people’s sense of self lies at the heart of moral motivation and action. Studies of historical moral exemplars provide individuals and organizations with powerful role models for optimal ethical functioning and highlight the importance of fostering the centrality of morality in organizational leaders.
The purpose of this paper is to present a four component model of ethical behavior that integrates literature in moral psychology, computing ethics, and virtue ethics as…
The purpose of this paper is to present a four component model of ethical behavior that integrates literature in moral psychology, computing ethics, and virtue ethics as informed by research on moral exemplars in computing. This is part 2 of a two part contribution, part 1 having appeared in Vol. 6 No. 3.
This psychologically based and philosophically informed model argues that moral action is grounded in relatively stable personality characteristics, guided by integration of morality into the self‐system, shaped by the context of the surrounding moral ecology, and facilitated by morally relevant skills and knowledge.
The model seeks to explain the daily successful (and unsuccessful) performance of moral action by computing professionals and to provide groundwork for a pedagogy that emphasizes ethically effective performance.
The model has significant implications for how ethical action to computer professionals and other design professionals might be taught. It also makes recommendations about what need to be measured to construct a complete picture of sustained ethical action in a profession.
Most accepted models of ethical behavior are unidimensional, emphasizing either principled reasoning or a simplistic model of integrity/character. This model brings together a variety of disparate literatures in the light of its emphasis on sustained moral action in the profession. It thereby provides researchers and educators with a picture of what is needed to construct a complete understanding of moral action in the profession.
This chapter makes a case for Adam Smith’s description of the market as a moral exemplar. More specifically, it argues that the behavior of the individual agents who…
This chapter makes a case for Adam Smith’s description of the market as a moral exemplar. More specifically, it argues that the behavior of the individual agents who inhabit Smith’s market is indeed morally exemplary.
The basis for this argument is that economic self-interest drives market participants to look beyond any inherent prejudice or tendency to discriminate on the basis of preconceived opinions or beliefs. Some historical context is provided that illustrates conservative opposition to this perspective from unlikely sources.
A simple moral framework is created to provide one possible representation of Smith’s interpretation of the market. In this framework self-interest is characterized as a “trump” that overcomes potential prejudices. It is further argued that this framework can be considered a moral exemplar, and that it is also important in facilitating exchange between participants.
The central argument is tested when the self-interest criterion is exposed to competition from the alternative moral value of altruism. The moral framework presented, and the principle of economic self-interest in particular, is resilient against this moral challenge.
The social implications of this argument relate directly to our normative understanding of how individuals should behave in a market context. The chapter establishes a link between this moral framework and the functioning of the market.
Originality/value of paper
The chapter is original in its attempt to defend the underlying morality of Smith’s market without recourse to his other works, such as the Theory of Moral Sentiments. It also links an understanding of market egalitarianism with a broader moral framework of market activity. Furthermore, it offers a clarification of why economic self-interest, and not altruism, is the appropriate motivation for market activity.
Moral exemplarity is a desirable but complex achievement. The chapter discusses the meaning of moral exemplarity and examines how the self, as a psychological and…
Moral exemplarity is a desirable but complex achievement. The chapter discusses the meaning of moral exemplarity and examines how the self, as a psychological and spiritual centre within a Jungian perspective, contributes to fostering moral commitment.
A narrative study was conducted amongst ten spiritual healers in New Zealand and France. Stories were collected and analysed interpretively to uncover meaningful patterns about spiritual healers’ moral stance and apprehension of the self.
Spiritual healers demonstrated a deep commitment to the self which clearly sustained a commitment to serve or help others. Commitment to the self was articulated around five core values: self-work, self-reflection, humility, self-integrity and love.
The chapter highlights the moral value of inner work. The self, in its archetypal sense, carries as potential an ‘innate morality’ that resonates in the heart and nurtures integrity and authenticity. To commit to the self requires undertaking a long and painful exploration of the psyche and integrating unconscious material into ego-consciousness. The participating spiritual healers, who had committed to their self and were well advanced on their psychological exploration journey, displayed moral qualities akin to exemplarity.
This paper aims to analyze some of the epistemically pernicious effects of the use of the internet and social media. In light of this analysis, it introduces the concept…
This paper aims to analyze some of the epistemically pernicious effects of the use of the internet and social media. In light of this analysis, it introduces the concept of epistemic pornography and argues that epistemic agents both can and should avoid consuming and sharing epistemic pornography.
The paper draws on research on epistemic virtue, cognitive biases, social media use and its epistemic consequences, fake news, paternalistic nudging, pornography, moral philosophy, moral elevation and moral exemplar theory to analyze the epistemically pernicious effects of the internet and social media.
There is a growing consensus that the internet and social media activate and enable human cognitive biases leading to what are here called “failures of epistemic virtue.” Common formulations of this problem involve the concept of “fake news,” and strategies for responding to the problem often have much in common with paternalistic “nudging.” While fake news is a problem and the nudging approach holds out promise, the paper concludes that both place insufficient emphasis on the agency and responsibility of users on the internet and social media, and that nudging represents a necessary but not sufficient response.
The essay offers the concept of epistemic pornography as a concept distinct from but related to “fake news” – distinct precisely because it places greater emphasis on personal agency and responsibility, and following recent literature on moral elevation and moral exemplars, as a heuristic that agents might use to economize their efforts at resisting irrational cognitive biases and attempting to live up to their epistemic duties.
Neither moral philosophy nor history provides a satisfactory explanation for Oskar Schindler’s extraordinary rescue of more than 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust. Thomas…
Neither moral philosophy nor history provides a satisfactory explanation for Oskar Schindler’s extraordinary rescue of more than 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust. Thomas Keneally’s Schindler’s Ark does. Although Schindler’s Ark is technically a work of fiction, that generic label obscures its contribution as a fictionalised account of true events. By using a novelist’s tools to tell an historical story, Keneally allows us to make inferences as to the motives of his protagonist and thereby helps us to understand what propelled the moral behaviour of Oskar Schindler.