Consumption Practices: A Virtue Ethics Approach
Business Ethics Quarterly, Vol 24, No 4, pp. 509‐531, 2014
36 Pages Posted: 29 Jan 2015
Date Written: July 1, 2014
Ethical research on consumption has focused for the most part on the obligations, principles and values guiding consumers’ actions and reasons for action. Doing so, it has concerned itself mostly with such bounded contexts as voluntary simplifiers, anti-consumption movements or so-called ‘ethical consumers,’ thereby fostering an artificial opposition between ethical and non-ethical consumption. This paper proposes virtue ethics as a more apt conceptual framework for the ethical analysis of consumption in that it takes into account the developmental dynamic triggered by engagement in consumption practices. We build on MacIntyre’s (2007) goods-virtues-practices-institutions framework and Beabout’s (2012) concept of a domain-relative practice to argue that, in engaging in consumption activities, agents may pursue goods internal to practices, further their individual life narratives and contribute to the good of their communities, thus developing virtues that perfect themselves both as consumers and as ethical agents.
Keywords: Consumer ethics, Virtue ethics, MacIntyre, Domain-relative Practice, Consumer Identity projects
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