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Thomas Aquinas on Justice as a Global Virtue in Business

  • Claus Dierksmeier (a1) and Anthony Celano (a1)


The moral theory of Thomas Aquinas meets the present need for a business ethics that transcends the legal realm by linking the ideas of justice and virtue in an ingenious way. Thomas's virtue theory coordinates private and public activities through a set of context-invariant, justice-oriented norms with conceptual appeal to contemporary questions of global business ethics. In our article, we first sketch how Aquinas's theory can be also of relevance to a non-confessional audience through its appeal to the ‘natural light of reason.’ Then we explain how his theory of ‘natural law’ aligns his ideas of virtue and justice. From this vantage point, we address the tension between cultural diversity and moral uniformity in the economic sphere in general and in today's globalized business world in particular. Throughout the article, we aim to show how Aquinas's conception of virtuous business conduct gains inter-personal and inter-cultural validity that establishes social justice as the global virtue of business.

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