Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


"Virtue and Vice Attributions in the Business Context: An Experimental Investigation"


Philosophy Department


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



Social and Behavioral Sciences


Recent findings in experimental philosophy have revealed that people attribute intentionality, belief, desire, knowledge, and blame asymmetrically to side effects depending on whether the agent who produces the side effect violates or adheres to a norm. Despite the fact that the original (and still common) test for this effect involved a chairman helping or harming the environment, hardly any of these findings have been applied to business ethics. We review what little exploration of the implications for business ethics has been done. Then we present new experimental results that expand the attribution asymmetry to virtue and vice. We also examine whether it matters to people that an effect was produced as a primary or side effect, as well as how consumer habits might be affected by this phenomenon. These results lead to the conclusion that it appears to be in a businesspersons self-interest to be virtuous.

Conference Name

Buffalo Experimental Philosophy Conference

Conference Location

Buffalo, NY

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