An Improved Approach to Capitalism: Trust, Authenticity, and Balance
Capitalism is the best system on offer as a way of organizing human economic and social affairs. At its core, capitalism is the ability to anonymously exchange goods and services that a human being produces for other goods and services that the same human being needs or wants and allows for the free and voluntary exchange of goods services in a market. There are a number of “flavors” of a capitalistic system and there are flaws in each flavor ranging from inequitable opportunities presented to individuals based on their societal standing to the endless creation of manufactured “needs” in order to allow unchecked growth which leads to deleterious outcomes for individuals, society, and the planet. The most common philosophical approach to capitalism usually involves some type of utilitarian framework which views the maximization of shareholder (owner) value (money or economic well being) as the proper way to conduct a capitalist endeavor. Unfettered self-interest is the goal. This view of capitalism has a number of flaws and deleterious outcomes for individuals, society, and the planet. Given that capitalism will continue to be the primary form of economic organization (in many of its several flavors) then this thesis claims that a framework based upon virtue ethics is necessary and required training for those pursuing careers in commerce. It is as important to habituate virtuous behavior as it is to learn the mechanics of finance, accounting, and marketing. The goal of maximizing profits and shareholder value must be tempered by the “triple bottom line” theory that profits, planet and people are all taken into consideration when making commercial decisions. Companies can still flourish while sincerely adhering to these principles. Patagonia company is a prime example of a company using virtue ethics to guide its behavior while still making a profit, helping the planet and supporting its people (employees). The thesis addresses criticisms of capitalism posited by Marx, Brown and others and outlines a course of study which should be integrated into all business schools. While the author is not naive to the challenges posed by educating future commercial leaders, Ethical training is crucial for the continued evolution and survival of the human species.
Bartosic, Albert J, "An Improved Approach to Capitalism: Trust, Authenticity, and Balance" (2023). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI30487625.