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Philosophy of business- Considers fundamental principles that underlie the formation and operation of business enterprises; the nature and purpose of a business, for example, is it primarily property or a social institution; its role in society; and the moral obligations that pertain to it. The subject is important to Phi Asset Managers and our management, and is closely related to business ethics and political economy. Interdisciplinary influences are from philosophy, ethics, strategic management, & economic theory.


There is a close relationship between the philosophy of business and business ethics. Philosophers specializing in business ethics are primarily concerned with how business people ought to conduct themselves in the marketplace & in society.


Philosopher Theodora Bryan adopts Kant's three versions of the categorical imperative for ensuring ethical business conduct. She pays particular attention to the second variation, whereby the people within a business must be seen as a kingdom of ends, and not merely treated as means to an end.


*Theodora Bryan- Professor of business ethics & of organizational behavior. She teaches in both of those departments at Loyola University of Chicago, in Illinois. She is an important voice in ongoing debates over business ethics, in which her own voice has been in favor of the Kantian view of ethics (in business as elsewhere) as a Kingdom of Ends.


The kingdom of ends is a hypothetical state of existence that is derived from Kant's categorical imperative. A kingdom of ends is composed entirely of rational beings, which Kant defines as beings who are capable of moral deliberation (though his definition expands in other areas). In order to be a part of the Kingdom of Ends, these rational beings must choose to act by maxims that have universality. It is from this point of view that they must judge themselves and their actions.


By the phrase kingdom, he means the "union of different rational beings in a system by common laws". These common laws, as established by the categorical imperative, are the laws used to evaluate the worth of an individual's actions. With this kingdom of individuals all living by the categorical imperative, particularly Kant's second formulation of it, our kingdom and all within it will treat all other members of this kingdom as ends in themselves, rather than as means to arriving at goals that one selfishly wants to accomplish for one's own purposes. This systematic whole is the kingdom of ends.


People can only belong to the kingdom of ends when they give universal laws unto it, and are subject to those same laws and all laws within. Such rational beings must regard themselves simultaneously as sovereign when making laws, and as subject when obeying them. Morality, therefore, is acting out of reverence for all universal laws which make the kingdom of ends possible. In a true kingdom of ends, acting virtuously will be rewarded with happiness.


Philosopher kings are the hypothetical rulers, or Guardians, of Plato's Utopian Kallipolis. If his ideal city-state is to ever come into being, "philosophers [must] become kings…or those now called kings [must]…genuinely and adequately philosophize" (The Republic, 5.473d).


Plato defined a philosopher firstly as its eponymous occupation – wisdom-lover. He then distinguishes between one who loves true knowledge as opposed to simple sights or education by saying that a philosopher is the only man who has access to Forms– the archetypal entities that exist behind all representations of the form (such as Beauty itself as opposed to any one particular instance of beauty). It is next and in support of the idea that philosophers are the best rulers that Plato fashions the ship of state metaphor, one of his most often cited ideas (along with his allegory of the cave). "[A] true pilot must of necessity pay attention to the seasons, the heavens, the stars, the winds, and everything proper to the craft if he is really to rule a ship" (The Republic, 6.488d). Plato claims that the sailors (i.e., the people of the city-state over whom the philosopher is the potential ruler) ignore the philosopher's "idle stargazing" because they have never encountered a true philosopher before.


The Republic can be understood as a treatise on education, political thought, philosophy, or psychology. The entirety of the work is concerned with how to raise the guardians, or ruling class of the Kallipolis, effectively.



The ship of state is a famous and oft-cited metaphor put forth by Plato in book VI of "Plato's Republic". It likens the governance of a city-state to the command of a naval vessel - and ultimately argues that the only men fit to be captain of this ship are philosopher kings, benevolent men with absolute power who have access to the Form of the Good.


Plato establishes the comparison by describing the steering of a ship as just like any other "craft" or profession - in particular, that of a politician. He then runs the metaphor in reference to a particular type of government: democracy. Plato’s democracy, it is worth noting, is not the modern notion of a mix of democracy and republicanism, but rather pure rule by what he terms the poor masses by way of pure majority rule. Plato argues that the masses are too busy fighting over what they consider to be the right way to steer the ship to listen to a true navigator – representing his philosopher-king. Socrates, speaking for Plato, rhetorically asks “Will he not be called by them a prater, a star-gazer, a good-for-nothing?” It is ultimately seen, then, that the ship of state metaphor is a cautionary tale against rule by anything other than an enlightened, benevolent monarch-of-sorts.