For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Moral education at work: On the scope of MacIntyre’s concept of a practice"

by Sinnicks, Matthew (2019)


This paper seeks to show how MacIntyre’s concept of a practice can survive a series of ‘scope problems’ which threaten to render the concept inapplicable to business ethics. I begin by outlining MacIntyre’s concept of a practice before arguing that, despite an asymmetry between productive and non-productive practices, the elasticity of the concept of a practice allows us to accommodate productive and profitable activities. This elasticity of practices allows us to sidestep the problem of adjudicating between practitioners and non-practitioners as well as the problem of generic activities. I conclude by suggesting that the contemporary tendency to regard work as an object of consumption, rather than undermining MacIntyre’s account of practices, serves to demonstrate the potential breadth of its applicability.

Key Passage

One of the main reasons MacIntyre’s concept of a practice has been appealing to business ethicists is that it, potentially at least, seems to “offer the best understanding of the promise of work” and provides a model of what human production could be like at its best. This is because it is, again potentially, able to show how good work can be both intrinsically satisfying and morally educative. Indeed, this potential is why it is worth exploring the scope of MacIntyre’s concept.  (p.105)


Macintyre, Ethics, Business Ethics, Morality At Work, Moral Education, Moral Training, Practice


On MacIntyre

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