Can individual virtue survive corporate pressure for results?
“When we speak of justice as a virtue, we are usually referring to a trait of individuals, even if we conceive the justice of individuals as having some grounding reference to social justice.” Stanford Encyclopedia of philosophy.
As both Robert C. Solomon and Gilbert Harman have dealt with the question of how people that are in organizations act according to their unique character that may or may not be virtuous. Since mostly all of them are qualified employees with good education and prior experience, virtue and good character is supposedly in them. Surely, these employees should get promoted and put into certain positions according to their skills but also based on their righteous acts.
The Milgram experiment was conducted to show how human behavior is influenced by artificial settings and if virtue is a part of the human character and how often it is shown. The experiments showed that when teachers had the chance to hurt their student by pumping up the voltage in case a student did not answer correctly, they did so in most cases. Can virtue survive in occasions like this when people with power want to become more powerful and therefore their actions aren’t justified? Do these people have virtue? And, if they do have how often is it shown in everyday life and of course under the corporate pressure?
We often find ourselves in different kinds of situations and normally most of us handle each case quite differently based on the circumstances. Our character may not necessarily change but the situation may change our character traits accordingly. For example, a well-educated adult man named Bobby who comes from a rather wealthy family, both in regards to money as well as virtue, and has been around with other wealthy people during his life and therefore he had formed a righteous personality. He gets this job in a big corporation but soon he finds out that the people on the top level of the hierarchy act badly and harm others only for their own benefit. Bobby finds himself in the situation where he must make a decision although the salary is quite high. If Bobby, as a person is good he has the time to think things over and if virtuous enough he should leave this business and go to another. His virtue as well as his beliefs shouldn’t be supported or empowered in this case so there is no point of Bobby staying at this corporation. How is it possible for a right person to act rather badly? And, if it is likely for something like this to happen, sooner or later after doing an evaluation, the person acknowledges his action and has time to judge himself and decide accordingly.
Not all men are virtuous but virtuous men always stay like that. And men learn from their own actions as well as of these of other people, their coworkers, friends and employers.
If surrounded by ill minds they will gradually become ill themselves and vice versa. People are good by nature; the situations though may fade this goodness away at least temporarily.
Yes, individual virtue can survive corporate pressure for results because corporate pressure will lose power at some point in the future due to a stronger appreciation of virtue among people. I think of virtue in a person as being good to the whole universe and putting some effort in order to change the things that can be changed.
“The corporate citizenship unit is an establishment that aims to become a globally recognized center of excellence in the area of research and teaching in corporate citizenship by bringing together diverse people from business, government and civil society organizations.” David Vogel's The Market for Virtue. This is exactly how individuals are gradually becoming more virtuous and responsible within their societies.
Aristotle said that the greatest and more virtuous a person is the more the society is going to offer to that person, exactly as Plato connected the individual virtue to the internal state of the person’s soul.
However, things may be much more complicated as they appear to be simply because individuals are made up of different characters and traits and no matter what their virtues or vices are, their actions may not exactly explain their true self. Although people tend to act based on any given circumstances, I strongly believe that the virtues are stronger and far more effective than the vices.