VIRTUE ETHICS: AN OBSOLETE CONCEPT?
Virtue: not exactly a household word in numerous organizations today. All too many decisions are being made that make us wish for a revival of this seemingly obsolete concept.
While most ethical theories focus on rules and maximes that answer to the question „Which action should I take?“, the concept of virtue ethics places more emphasis on developing good character traits, such as kindness, generosity, or integrity. Such traits should, in turn, allow a person to make the right decisions. Instead of asking yourself at every turn of the way „How should I decide here?“, it is easier to go by your „inner compass“, as Kofi Annan used to call it.
We propose to take a new look at this concept that incorporates not only the feeling of having done the right thing, but centers on eudaimonia which actually might bring your quest for happiness to a happy end. The term is Greek and part of three notions of luck, happiness, and fulfillment. The Greek have three words for this:
- favorable circumstances (luck) = eutychia
- subjective wellbeing (desire, lust) = hedone
- a «good» life of achievement which lacks nothing essential (happiness) = eudaimonia
Eudaimonia incorporates professional fulfillment by using your talents and skills to create something that not only gives you satisfaction but also contributes to the greater good. We would like you to experience what that means in „real life“ by meeting Professor Dr. Janet G. Hering, a former Harvard graduate (chemistry). She is now and has been for a dozen years head of EAWAG, the Swiss Federal Institute for Aquatic Science & Technology. A committed teacher as well as a dedicated innovator, she will tell the story of one of her most spectacular projects that might revise our concept of hygiene worldwide.
Her sparring partner who will discuss a variety of subjects is Dr. Jean-Daniel Strub, Co-Founder of ethix (www.ethix.ch), a lab for innovation ethics that helps organizsations find the ethical basis for decision making processes resulting in innovation.