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If Aristotle Ran General Motors: Moral Perspective Essay

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Updated: Sep 2nd, 2021

In the book If Aristotle Ran General Motors, Thomas Morris explains how business organizations can thrive in the modern society. Morris reviews how these entities can succeed if they followed the wisdom of great philosophers like Aristotle. The term ‘General Motors’ is used in general to represent modern day businesses. It is not used in reference to the company that goes by that name.

In the book, Morris (1997) discusses four dimensions of human experiences. The first is the intellectual element. It aims at addressing the various aspects of truth. The second is the aesthetic dimension. It highlights the issue of beauty. Then, there are moral and spiritual dimensions. The two focus on goodness and unity, respectively. Being an intellect means embracing truth. In doing so, one acquires a lot of power and influence. Goodness is very important in the establishment of healthy relationships in a thriving community, especially at the workplace. In this light, philosophy offers a lot to modern business organizations. It is regarded as the key to happiness and corporate excellence (Morris, 1997).

In this paper, the author will analyze part 3 of Morris’ book. The section is made up of chapters 7, 8, and 9. Morris (1997) addresses the issue of moral dimension in this section. In the current paper, the author will extrapolate on what Morris is saying and analyze the impacts of the arguments on the workplace.

If Aristotle Ran General Motors: A Discussion of Part 3

Moral Dimension

Most people around the world have two lives. They have their own individual life and another form of existence that entails relationships with other people around them. Every business enterprise is comprised of such people. How they relate with one another is very crucial to the success or failure of the company. It is at this juncture that ethics comes into play with regards to relationships at the workplace. Ethical conducts improve the interaction between an individual and their colleagues (Shafer-Landau, 2003).

Morality is a common synonym for ethics. It is one of the four dimensions of human experiences. Morality is mostly concerned with goodness. It addresses the question of what it takes for an individual to be a good person (Dancy, 2004). Every activity undertaken by human actors has an end result. The consequences can either be good or bad. In light of this, it is apparent that morality leads to positive outcomes (Brooks, 2011). In addition, integrity governs human behavior. Without it, the society cannot survive for long. The reason is that not everyone embraces the intellect dimension of human existence. Furthermore, morality influences the decisions people make on a daily basis. The decisions are based on what is wrong and right (Dancy, 2004).

According to Morris (1997), the idea of morality is believed to originate from one’s conscience. Ethics and integrity improve fairness and harmony with regards to relationships between people. In addition, they make people ‘fit’ for the society and improve their relationship with the powers that created them. As such, it is correct to say that doing well brings about goodness. If everyone in the workplace adhered to the intellect and moral dimension of human life, the end result will be unity. The harmonious existence is closely related to the spiritual dimension of existence. Ultimately, the company will achieve corporate success (Shafer-Landau, 2003).

Challenges of Ethical Action

Another key point addressed by Morris (1997) has to do with the challenges associated with ethical codes of conduct. For example, a manager in today’s workplace is faced by a number of moral issues. They are expected to take control of such situations in the company (Dodig-Crnkovic, 2007). The decisions they make should reflect justice and fairness. For instance, when confronting ethical dilemmas, they may opt for motivational talks to enlighten their employees on rights and wrongs and the need to observe fairness.

A review of Morris’ book and the process of completing this assignment have provided this author with new ideas and insights on ethics. For example, it is now clear to this author why the society requires businesses to be more socially responsible (Morris, 1997). It is assumed that any business organization is out to make profits. Social responsibility requires firms to obey laws and act ethically in their pursuit for revenue. According to Morris (1997), challenges arise when people want to make money fast. They fail to realize that profits alone can guarantee corporate success. On the contrary, there is need for unity and morality. The probability of retaining the high profits in the long term in the absence of the two elements is low. Many modern businesses are ignorant of this fact. However, the input of great philosophers, such as Aristotle, makes it is possible to become a market leader and retain that position (Ikerd, 2008).

Wisdom, Virtue, and Corporate Strength

Morris (1997) states that “goodness is associated with the fertile soil, which is responsible for growth and flourish” (150). The absence of this concept leads to societal death. Modern businesses are faced with corruption and other ethical problems. The major cause of these problems is the misuse of power. For example, some people may bribe to get a lucrative job. Others may pay to get government contracts, which should be distributed for free. Corruption has many dimensions. They include political, social, economic, and environmental aspects. The economic effects of this evil can be major or minor (Ikerd, 2008). One of them entails the depletion of national wealth. If managers become selfish and concerned only with the optimization of profits, the company may self-destruct.

To survive, a modern corporate entity should adhere to a number of basic virtues. They include wisdom, fairness, self-control, and endurance (Brooks, 2011). Wisdom is defined as the ability to think and act using experience, knowledge, and common sense. It is not possible to be ‘good’ without practical wisdom (Dodig-Crnkovic, 2007).


In If Aristotle Ran General Motors, Morris (1997) addresses a number of moral issues. For example, it is apparent that the loyalty of business managers in contemporary society has reduced. A virtuous existence is needed to achieve corporate success. Such way of life is characterized by wisdom, justice, restraint, and perseverance. For one to possess these virtues, they have to be intellect, moral, spiritual, and aesthetic. To this end, morality brings about goodness, which improves the relationships between people at the workplace. Achieving these objectives is associated with a number of challenges. They include, among others, corruption and ineptness. As Ikerd (2008) puts it, “goodness is a necessity if a healthy relationship in a thriving community is to be met” (20). What this means is that people should try to lead a pious life. They should treat others fairly to enhance a cohesive coexistence in the society.


Brooks, T. (2011). Ethics and moral philosophy. Leiden: Brill.

Dancy, J. (2004). Ethics without principles. New York: Clarendon Press.

Dodig-Crnkovic, G. (2007). Ethics and morality. Metaphilosophy, 16(4), 266-275.

Ikerd, J. (2008). Sustainable capitalism: A matter of ethics and morality. Problems of Sustainable Development, 3(1), 13-22.

Morris, T. (1997). If Aristotle ran General Motors: The new soul of business. New York: Henry Holt and Co.

Shafer-Landau, R. (2003). Moral realism: A defense. New York: Clarendon Press.

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