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“We ought to eat in order to work, not vice versa”: MacIntyre, practices, and the best work for humankind

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JournalJournal of Business Ethics
DateAccepted/In press - 12 Aug 2020
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 19 Aug 2020
Early online date19/08/20
Original languageEnglish


This paper draws a distinction between ‘right MacIntyreans’ who are relatively optimistic that MacIntyre’s vision of ethics can be realised in capitalist society, and ‘left MacIntyreans’ who are sceptical about this possibility, and aims to show that the ‘left MacIntyrean’ position is a promising perspective available to business ethicists. It does so by arguing for a distinction between ‘community-focused’ practices and ‘excellence-focused’ practices. The latter concept fulfils the promise of practices to provide us with an understanding of the best work for humankind and highlights the affinities between MacIntyre’s concept of a practice and Marx’s conception of good work as free, creative activity. The paper concludes with a suggestion that we reflect on the best forms of work so that we can strive to ensure the very best activities, those most consonant with our flourishing, one day become available to all.

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