In Edwin M. Hartman’s “Can We Teach Character: An Aristotelian Answer” He explains how an ethical course can further develop the character of the student. The author points out that ethics is not about character primarily, it is about to do the right thing in the right situation. This paper intends to evaluate the article, and answer the most important question “Can Character be taught?” The idea behind good versus bad character plays an important aspect in Hartman’s article.
What are the qualities of being good and what are the qualities of being bad? How could n a business ethics course affects our characters or most importantly “Will the course change the way we think and act?” Throughout the article, the author defines the definition of character and ethics and the connection between one’s character and their principle/value.
The author explains how one’s moral character is developed through teaching the ideas of Aristotle and elaborates it with multiple cases.
Throughout the article, the author consistently uses Aristotle idea to explains his point. One idea that the author keeps on mentioning is that “A virtuous person is a person of good character” (Hartman). Being virtuous is an essential quality of being a good person.
With such character, a person can be successful in life and will be able to follow the correct path into a virtuous life. In Hartman’s main argument, he points out that business ethics course can encourage morality by teaching the student different ideas from distinct perspectives.
By raising a critical philosophical question, the student will be able to view and think a situation in different views. The business ethics courses are meant to be educational and insightful. Although one’s characters are developed prior to taking any ethics classes, the class will benefit those who are willing to learn and adopt new ethical ideas. In short, business ethical classes are for people with good/virtuous characters.
Throughout the article, Hartman keeps on mentioning the connection between individual characters and ethics. The author explains the importance of business ethics courses and how crucial is it on forming a good character. The author keeps pointing out Aristotle’s ethical idea on “In a person of good character, virtues and values are reinforced by appropriate dispositions and emotions”. In short, the idea is basically saying that our actions are somehow directed by our emotion/feeling. As the author mentions, our character is developed since we grew up. It is nearly impossible to change our personality/character.
But we are still capable of encouraging morality and to enhance/have certain “good” qualities. Aristotle’s view on the character is the main takeaway from Hartman’s article. “Character is a matter of what you enjoy doing; good things if you are a good person, bad things if you are a bad one”. (Hartman) Furthermore, Aristotle defines good character as in “not only to do the right thing but also having the right desires and emotions”. (Hartman) In order for ourselves to live a moral life, we must truly enjoy and understand what we are doing without regrets and be fully committed to that lifestyle.
One’s interest in character becomes a crucial aspect of Hartman’s article as well. We must have the ability to decide whether we want to have certain types or qualities. To follow Aristotle’s idea of being a good person with good characters or not. According to Aristotle’s idea on characters, people with negative qualities can still be aware of the ethical correctness but they will act differently. One’s character reflects on what they enjoy doing due to the environment they grew up with. The article also points out that human beings are social creatures, we each influence others.
The goodwill influence the good and the bad will influence the bad. And that decisions cannot be based on self-interest but rather be based on how it might affect others and society. Aristotle believes that a wise person will choose to be rational because that’s the nature of human beings. The author points out an idea from Aristotle stating that “happiness requires desires that are consistent with one another and with one’s values and actions that are consistent with one’s desires”. (Hartman) This is basically saying that as long as our decision is based on good morale and good virtue, we will usually be granted happiness. According to the author, organization affects the character.
Good guidance of good moral will benefit the people in the community. By promoting certain good quality and provide a role model, it will motivate others to do the same thing. It will benefit the group instead of self-interests. One can say that most people can distinguish what is right and wrong, but we sometimes intentionally choose bad decisions. For example, lying is wrong but we lie all the time. Whether it is a lie that hurts other or a lie we say to avoid hurting others. Regardless of the reason, lying is morally wrong and still, we lie all the time.
Throughout this article, the author was able to achieve its goal to educate us the importance of a business ethics course. By explaining the connection between ethics and character, we are able to define the definition of character and the qualities of being a person with good character.
Business ethical courses are meant to teach us to view things differently. It teaches the ideas and thoughts from many great philosophers, and to see a certain situation from their perspective of view. By doing so, we the student will be able to question ourselves whether something is right or wrong. For example, the railroad worker situation in which we had to decide between one live versus five. There are no right answers, but it teaches us to view this situation with different perspectives. The business ethical courses are meant to enhance our thinking. It will benefit those with good character and those who are willing to change and adapt such idea.
To conclude, Hartman believes that a business ethics course does its job by teaches those who are willing to learn and adapt about being not just an ethical business person but also a person with good characters. Although the course will not benefit those who are not willing to adapt and learn. It encourages those with good characters to improve. The correct business course will potentially enrich our character.
By giving us the opportunity to be surrounded by others with a similar mindset. We can achieve a better understanding of what is a good person. Overall the article does an excellent job of explaining how crucial a business ethics course might be. It also expanded my perspective on many other ethical problems. Most importantly, it encourages and promote us to have a good character which will lead to a better life.