For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Utopia reconsidered"

by Dobson, John; Libri Publishing (2008)


This paper challenges Alasdair MacIntyre's assertion that the modern firm - such as Google, Unilever, or Microsoft - is inimical to human flourishing within an Aristotelian framework. The paper begins by questioning MacIntyre's rendering ofutopian communities. It then addresses four specific criticisms ofthe modern firm to be found throughout MacIntyre's oeuvre, namely compartmentalisation, myopia, inequality, and loss ofcommunity. Arguments are made to the effect that these criticisms do not vitiate the institutional role ofthe modern firm in an Aristotelian context. The paper concludes with an invocation ofthe modern firm as institutional ideal within an evolving utopian vision ofhuman flourishing. This is a utopian vision in which the modern firm plays a constructive, not corruptive, institutional role.

Key Passage

When a MacIntyrean practice functions well, participants therein pursue internal goods of excellence by cultivating cardinal virtues of character such as wisdom, justice, integrity, and constancy; and by nurturing virtues of acknowledged dependence, such as just generosity, that bind the community. In addition, the key to healthy practices is to have them supported materially by institutions that, while supplying the external goods of material support, do not interfere with the practice’s pursuit of the internal goods of excellence. (p.67)


Alasdair Macintyre, Management, Aristotle, Firm, Modern Firm, Business Firm, Human Flourishing, Utopian


On MacIntyre

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