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Sustainability / Publiction Abstract

Perfectionism and the Place of the Interior Life in Business: Toward an Ethics of Personal Growth

Jan 15, 2019

Joshua S Nunziato, Ronald Paul Hill



Stanley Cavell’s moral perfectionism places the task of cultivating richer self-understanding and self-expression at the center of corporate life. We show how his approach reframes business as an opportunity for moral soul-craft, achieved through the articulation of increasingly reflective inner life in organizational culture. Instead of norming constraints on business activity, perfectionism opens new possibilities for conducting commercial exchange as a form of conversation, leading to personal growth. This approach guides executives in designing businesses that foster genius and channel creativity, while giving all stakeholders a meaningful voice within a culture of trust. We first give an account of Cavellian perfectionism. Then, we explain how this underrepresented strand of moral reflection challenges and enriches, but does not supplant, prevailing ethical theories—including other versions of perfectionism. We then demonstrate the salience of Cavellian perfectionism to business ethics through examples from marketing, human resources, and executive organizational design and development.

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