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P H I L O S O P H Y F O R B U S I N E S S ISSN 2043-0736
Issue number 70
6th December 2011
I. 'Ludwig von Mises: Economist and Philosophical Anthropologist' by
Pedro Blas Gonzalez
II. 'Emergencies and the Mass Media' by Maximiliano Korstanje
III. Call for Papers: Philosophy of Management 2012
Prof Pedro Blas Gonzalez, Professor of Philosophy at Barry
University, Florida is the most recent academic to join the Board of
the International Society for Philosophers. His article,
'Perspectivism, Form and Objective Reality in Mies van der Rohe's
Architecture and Ortega y Gasset's Thought' appeared in Issue 166 of
Philosophy Pathways (17 October 2011). For this issue of Philosophy
for Business, Prof Gonzalez offers a welcome look at the economics
and philosophical anthropology of Ludwig von Mises, a notable
defender of the free market.
Continuing the theme of his earlier article for Philosophy for
Business, 'Swine Flu in Perspective' (Issue 65, 17 February 2011)
Maximiliano Korstanje makes the case for the academic study of
disaster management in the Argentine, which he argues is lagging
behind the United States and Europe in this respect. I have to say,
however, that the media vices which he highlights are not at all
unknown in this part of the globe.
Looking forward to the annual Philosophy of Management conference due
to be held at St Anne's College Oxford in July 2012, Nigel Laurie
offers an ambitious programme and Call for Papers, covering such
diverse topics as sustainability; the role of wisdom in management;
legitimacy and accountability (including the idea of a 'management
oath'); the application of management theory to the public sector;
and the place of philosophy of management in undergraduate and
graduate management courses. Reading through the CFP makes a nice
ten-minute introduction to issues in management philosophy.
I. 'LUDWIG VON MISES: ECONOMIST AND PHILOSOPHICAL ANTHROPOLOGIST' BY
PEDRO BLAS GONZALEZ
The popular epistemological doctrines of our age do not
admit that a fundamental difference prevails between the
realm of events that the natural sciences investigate and
the domain of human action that is the subject matter of
economics and history.
Ludwig von Mises
Epistemological Problems of Economics
The Economics of Being
The most striking aspect of Mises' understanding of the contingencies
of economics in the real world of differentiated, intelligent beings
-- individuals informed by free will and the capacity for autonomous
action -- is his insight of man as a concrete entity of flesh and
bones. Mises' thought begins and ends by addressing the reality of
concrete individuals. Intellectually honest thinkers cannot deny the
essential condition of free will, that is, the existentially lived
and vitally experienced reality that informs individual human
By eschewing abstraction and seeking an unaffected understanding of
man as an agent of coherent action, one which embraces both, the
burden of free will as well man's capacity for self destruction,
Mises offers us a keen knowledge of economics as a standard of
Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) was a free-market economist who
dedicated his professional life to the pursuit of social/ political
and economic freedom. The latter of these, he argued, is the
cornerstone that safeguards autonomy for individuals in democratic,
open societies, and which keeps us from the serfdom of
Mises was the leading exponent of the Austrian School of economics.
This is what he is primarily known for. However, even more compelling
is that Mises is a giant of social/ moral thought. Being a philosopher
who had a gifted penchant for questions of philosophical anthropology,
this is precisely what established his reputation as a visionary
economist. The many turbulent events of the twentieth century,
especially the collapse of Communism, and the current undoing of
welfare states throughout the world continue to vindicate the
veracity of Mises' thought.
Mises' perspicuity as a social/ moral thinker allows him to ground
his thought and understanding of economic principles on the
recognition of spontaneity that individuals exercise prior to, and in
spite of societal and governmental collectivization. Mises asserts
that economics is one of several of man's natural responses to the
objectifying forces of reality on reflective, differentiated beings.
In other words, man by his very nature produces goods and services,
barters and trades as pro-active measures that improve his
well-being. This careful manner of forward thinking is undeniably a
fundamental staple of the human condition and human nature that
address our need for subsistence.
According to Mises, economics is not an artificial activity that
originates in the state and which can be effectively regulated by
centralization. Actually, when we conceive of economics, Mises tells
us, we are in reality making sense of a form of human activity that
is vital in origin. This condition alone makes economics a very
practical response to the demands of human existence. For this
reason, I will argue that economics must be understood as 'economics
When viewed as a central aspect of being, economics, then, can never
be divorced from an individual's perception and subsequent management
of reality, to the best of his ability. This means that the degree of
liberty that an individual attributes to his differentiated condition
in nature will also determine the degree and awareness of his
autonomous engagement with human reality. This, of course, can be
translated to mean that our response to the contingencies of life and
societal demands determines our pursuit and degree of execution of
personal liberty. This entails that the primal freedom that man
experiences in the natural condition must be respected by the state.
Undoubtedly, an individual's degree and respect for personal autonomy
will determine our required level of upkeep and maintenance by the
Consider that much essential understanding of human nature is lost
through the fallacious logic of some economists who treat wealth as a
phenomenon that is created by entire classes of people, but which is
enjoyed by the few. On the other hand, when we sincerely recognize
wealth to be the product of individual strife, only then can we begin
to make sense of how the production of goods and services are
necessarily from the outset -- to use a currently fashionable, albeit
tragically confused notion -- distributed.
How is this the case, you may ask? Because, stated in simple terms,
wealth is created by individuals for the benefit of all. We must
conceive of wealth as the natural outcome of a form of human activity
that creates the conditions and infrastructure for human well-being.
However, even when we equate wealth with the virtues of personal
effort, inspiration, efficiency and industry -- in short -- with
human toil, we discover that such activity does not always produce
our intended results. Free will often has unintended consequences
that we must all live with.
Wealth, like knowledge, for instance, comes about as the result of
tremendous personal sacrifice and expenditure of energy. Of course,
this entails that when successful, individual sacrifice, by the sheer
force of human agglomeration, will come to be shared by others. This
is made possible through the desire that the individual creative
force has to trade, barter, lend, sell, or in the case of the nuclear
family and friends, share such goods. It seems ironic that those who
create goods also possess the profound understanding that they cannot
exist alone in the world. This means that those who produce goods can
never be deemed as anti-social. Their personal sacrifice is a
testament to this truism.
Let us also take into account that, in man's Herculanean primitive
condition, the effort of hunting, curing foods by salting, smoking or
dehydration, was an investment and thus a tremendous leap forward in
human well-being. This meant securing regularity and certainty by
those who were either visionaries or who were well suited for this
kind of activity, for the benefit of other members of the group.
Of course, the fruits of these activities allowed for the much needed
security of creating permanent villages where food, shelter and
personal security could be cultivated on demand by all members of the
group. This is only one example of what it means to be industrious. It
does not require much imagination to realize that it would not take
long for opportunists, either from within the group or outside, to
undertake raids and initiate warfare. There is an erroneous and
commonly held belief by some people that it is the creation of goods
-- in this case, cured foods through dehydration and salting -- that
brings about human inequity.
In reality, what is at stake here is the parasitical disregard and
abuse of what I have already referred to as the economics of being,
by opportunists. The economics of being is a testament to individual
capacity and/ or desire to embrace the bite of 'human reality,' as
Gabriel Marcel refers to this, if for nothing other than to save our
well-being and others who cannot fend for themselves, like children,
the elderly and incapacitated. Thus, an understanding of economics as
the economics of being is tantamount to the recognition that every man
is a prototype first-man who must struggle to cultivate and earn
personal freedom in the form of self-sufficiency and personal
autonomy. This, in turn, at the very least brings about a sense of
personal contentment that is the minimal reward of self-reliance.
As a consequence of toiling to attain the basic units of leisure that
the economics of being deliver us to, man becomes less encumbered by
the demands of human reality. For instance, a few choice examples of
this are the cave paintings found in Lascaux, France, Altamira, Spain
and Xinjiang, China, which date back 17,000, 15,000 and 12,000 years,
respectively. These cave paintings were created as an effort to take
control of the vicissitudes that enslave man to a form of sensual
life that is merely concerned with the day-to-day. These paintings
signal a colossal boost to the subsequent civilizing and humanizing
forces of mankind.
We should never undermine the sheer infrahuman brutality of living in
such an age. This is one reason why I find it necessary to logically
link the existential longing of people in such a primitive time with
the economics of being. The very act of their conceiving of life in
aesthetic terms is a clear indicator of a form of reflective awe and
wonder that can only be experienced by self-aware and differentiated
beings. This is a fine example of what Mises means by our inherent
capacity for human action.
Ludwig von Mises and Philosophical Anthropology
As a thinker who had a sound understanding of action as the fuel of
the human condition, Mises views modern economics as an integral
aspect of human life that works best when unencumbered by government
regulation. Mises argues convincingly that laissez faire economics is
the most compatible system of economics with man's need for creativity
and spontaneity. The cry of laissez faire -- 'laissez passer' in
eighteenth-century France -- aimed to establish a market society that
would allow citizens to stretch their economic wings, as it were. This
would allow for the mobility of products and producers, services and
consumers throughout society, wherever demand warrants.
Yet laissez faire does not mean to abandon the economy to the whim of
blind forces. Apparently, this is a major confusion that is
conveniently propagated by proponents of economic centralization and
interventionism. Mises makes this point clear in his book, Human
Laissez faire does not mean: Let soulless mechanical forces
operate. It means: Let each individual choose how he wants
to cooperate in the social division of labor; let the
consumers determine what the entrepreneurs should
In contradistinction to this, those who advocate government
intervention in the economy argue for what they call 'automatic
forces' or what is today better known as 'conscious planning.' But
planning by whom, we might want to ask? What is this ultra-conscious
governmental bureaucracy that is savvy enough to understand and
predict human motives, behavior and action? And, who are the members
of this all-seeing, cyclopic government agency?
What Mises refers to as 'the economic foundations of freedom' serves
as the ultimate argument -- if such a thing was ever necessary --
against government central planning of the economy. Mises'
understanding of man's nature, in other words, his profound
understanding of philosophical anthropology allows him to ground the
study of economics in man's capacity for responsible action.
Central to Mises understanding of economics as a fundamental form of
human activity is his argument that human beings act purposefully.
Because man is able to choose between higher and lower values, Mises'
economic principles also serve as the recognition of man as a moral
agent. It should go without saying that intelligent individuals who
possess free will, through logical necessity, must also be
acknowledged to be free agents. Only free-willing beings can make
sense of economics as the result of purposeful decision making.
Government planning of the economy, on the other hand, does not
respect this very basic tenet of human freedom and logic. Yet
governmental economic planning must of necessity also acknowledge
this fact of human behavior, even though, it unwillingly does so in
the form of a negation. Simply stated, in order for government to
maintain the illusion of planning a successful economy, it must first
account for the reality that at least some individuals are capable of
purposeful action. Who are these individuals? The answer can only be:
The people who make up social/ economic government planning agencies,
If government economic planners are the only entities endowed with
intelligence and the capacity for purposeful action, they, through
logical implication must dictate order and purpose to the general
populace. This being the case, it then becomes tremendously important
to ask who are the individuals who are to plan the economy, who
assigns them, and just how can they account for the omnipotence of
overseeing every possible action of free willing agents? Of course,
this is an impossible task. Hence, the only effective manner to
accomplish this monumental task is to view man (most of mankind,
anyway, not the economic planning class) as entities who are
handcuffed, that is, determined by social/ environmental
contingencies and conventions.
Undoubtedly, economic planning is yet another form of philosophical
materialism. Central planners prefer nurture to nature. This means
that governmental economic planners must of necessity deny
individuals their inalienable right to exercise free will. This
debilitating contradiction of central planning continues to be the
conveniently ignored boogey man of economic planning to our day.
Mises explains this best:
Animals are driven by instinctive urges. They yield to the
impulse which prevails at the moment and peremptorily asks
for satisfaction. They are the puppets of their
Mises argues that economics is the art of individual human action. If
human beings are capable of rational action, then it would also seem
essential to encourage people to act freely. Only through free
choices can individuals keep themselves from succumbing to danger and
are able to safeguard their well-being. Are these, then, not the very
same values that our society finds commendable in our efforts to
re-habilitate drug addicts, for instance? And are these not the
virtues that build self-worth -- dignitas -- what some today refer to
as self-esteem? Then why do we encounter this egregious and glaring
contradiction when dealing with the self-interest of elitist economic
planners? Mises' articulation of this central contradiction of
economic planning in our time cannot be ignored. He argues:
Man's eminence is to be seen in the fact that he chooses
between alternatives. He regulates his behavior
deliberatively. He can master his impulses and desires; he
has the power to suppress wishes the satisfaction of which
would force him to renounce the attainment of more
important goals. In short: man acts; he purposively aims at
ends chosen. This is what we have in mind in stating that
man is a moral person, responsible for his conduct.
The conclusion that Mises draws from man's ability to act should not
be lost in terms of mere economics. The grounding structure of Mises'
free-market economics is backed by a sound epistemology of the
possibility of man's attaining both, objective and self-knowledge. In
addition, when Mises argues convincingly that man must make choices,
his is essentially a phenomenological analysis that recognizes the
primacy of consciousness to man's self-knowledge.
Consider that Mises' understanding of man's axiological component,
that is, man as Homo faber, a being that cannot help but to choose
this over that, is a prescient phenomenological analysis that places
him in the company of philosophical anthropologists like Dilthey,
Husserl and Ortega y Gasset, and most importantly, Max Scheler.
Human action is possible, according to Mises, not as a biological
instinct that must be quenched, but rather as the result of a
conscious effort to embrace higher values, which in turn determine
man's extra-natural separation from unconscious nature. Here is what
he has to say about Scheler:
What Scheler says here about the pleasant and the
unpleasant is the fundamental law of action, which is valid
independently of place, time, race, and the like. If we
substitute in Scheler's remarks 'subjectively considered
more important' for 'pleasant,' and 'subjectively
considered less important' for 'unpleasant,' this becomes
One cannot readily dismiss Mises' phenomenological understanding of
human action, for this is precisely what fuels measurable and
quantifiable economic reality. Mises grounds his economic theory not
on particular actions, or what seem like haphazard, disconnected
aspects of human action, but rather on reason. Much like Ortega y
Gasset, Mises argues that reason is at the service of life itself. In
other words, reason and the universally valid principles that it
uncovers, is man's best tool that allows us to live in the world.
Mises' correlation between human action and human freedom is a
fundamental discovery that common sense makes about man's plight in
the world. He argues:
Human action serves human life and action. It is not
absolute thought, but forethought directed toward projected
acts and the afterthought that reflects upon acts done.
Hence, in the last analysis, logic and the universally
valid science of human action are one and the same. If we
separate them, so as to contrast logic and practice, we
must show at what point their paths diverge and where the
special province of the science of action is to be found.
When Mises argues that reason must recognize the conditions in which
it is to act, this is tantamount to saying that free will must be
selective. This means that human action is the result of free will,
and the latter must embrace the responsibility of being proactive,
and not merely reactive.
Human action, then, entails the phenomenological categories of having
to choose, intending and discriminating between higher and lower;
constructive or destructive values. It is the individual, then, that
is taxed with such a burden, and not the people who are in charge of
government economic planning bureaucracies.
Another important aspect of human action, as Mises views it, is that
free will is framed by a fundamental negation, one which sees freedom
as man's ability to discriminate between productive and destructive
action. It should not come as a surprise to us that free will must
always be vigilant regarding the values that it embraces. Yet choose
it must. This is a significant tenet of Mises philosophical
anthropology, especially as it applies to economics. His view of
freedom as a system of checks and balances of human excess, that is,
as a mechanism of rational self-restraint, is in direct violation of
a planned economy. The latter, Mises argues, violates individual
freedom and undermines man's capacity for personal autonomy.
Mises points out that the result of human action cannot be predicted
or calculated by government agencies or by science. However, if we
are to make coherent statements about human history, he goes on to
argue, we must start by recognizing that human history is indeed
possible because of universally valid principles. Human action, he
tells us, is a pre-condition to history. Mises writes in response to
what he considers the shortcomings of historicism:
They did not see that without recourse to propositions
accepted as universally valid, even history cannot be
understood and that the theory of human action is logically
prior to history.
It is for this reason that Mises undermines the pretensions of
science and the social-sciences of accurately predicting human
behavior. Economics, he contends, comes about as a result of human
action simply because we are certain that man must act. Thus, Mises
bases the value of economics on the certainty that man must act, and
this, usually in ways that will safeguard our well-being rather than
This is why he argues that whether people buy bread or milk is not
important. What matters most is that people will purchase what they
need in any given time of their lives and thus will pay the price
that they are comfortable paying: 'Economic action is always in
accord only with the importance that acting man attaches to the
limited quantities among which he must directly choose.'
Mises' philosophical understanding destroys that tired cliche of
business men as being interested solely in the bottom line. While
this may appear to be true in the worldview that is oriented around
manufacturing and selling goods, Mises' thought, however, is centered
on economics from the perspective of individuals, that is, consumers.
This means everyone of us.
As consumers, whether through barter, trade or engaged in the demands
of buying and selling, man acts from motivations that cannot be
readily made into a science. What economics measures, then, Mises is
correct in pointing out, is not the moral component of why people
purchase one item over another, but that they have to make
responsible choices, period. Starting with the principle that man
must make difficult choices -- this is man's axiological nature --
Mises then proceeds to the question: what can be the motivation
behind governments wanting to plan economies?
We must reiterate that freedom of the will leads intrinsically -- by
definition to man as an agent of action -- to man's control over his
own constitution. This in turn forces man to face the reality that
his choices have lasting consequences for himself and others. Mises
makes a rational distinction between hurting 'society' or ourselves,
through our choices. When our choices have adverse consequences for
ourselves, that is, as individuals, this is equivalent to hurting
society, for society cannot exist without autonomous individuals.
This is one reason why individuals must make rational strides to
safeguard their freedom through responsible choices. Economic
activity reflects life on many levels. This is why for Mises human
existence cannot be separated from economics.
Undoubtedly, Mises is a champion of existential and social/ political
human freedom. He recognizes that the rules of engagement in modern
economies cannot ignore man's intrinsic desire to express freedom in
light of the many conscriptions set up by the state. Yet the
existence of man as a free and moral agent cannot exist if he is not
allowed to make choices and face their consequences. The market
economy is intrinsically tied in to man's capacity to act freely.
Mises is correct that, 'it is obvious that the exhortations and
admonishments of morality make sense only when addressing individuals
who are free agents.'
In addition, we ought not to forget that free market economies
account for the best and most efficient way of measuring the
real-world intricacies of human freedom and imagination. One might
even argue that, at least on this planet, and having tried and failed
at totalitarianism, the health of free market economies is also a very
good indicator of our measurable freedom. Undoubtedly, man is better
off today in regards to our material condition than we have ever been
before in history. Mises reminds us of this:
The much talked-about common man has at his disposal
amenities of which the richest men in precapitalistic ages
did not even dream. He is in a position to enjoy the
spiritual and intellectual achievements of science, poetry,
and art that in earlier days were accessible only to a small
elite of well-to-do people. And he is free to worship as his
conscience tells him.
Hence, in concluding, let us not forget that the free market economy
does not aim to make people happy, only to put us in a position to
better handle, what the great bard has called, 'the slings and arrows
of outrageous fortune,' that human life and the world put us through.
Thus, as a consequence of this, I'm willing to bet that people have
never derived so much joy from being the 'common man,' as we enjoy
1. Ludwig von Mises, Epistemological Problems of Economics.
(Princeton: D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc., 1960), p. v.
2. Ludwig von Mises. Human Action: A Treatise on Economics. (Auburn,
Alabama: Ludwig von Mises Institute, 1998), p. 731.
3. Ludwig von Mises. Economic Freedom and Interventionism: An
Anthology of Articles and Essays. (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1990),
5. Mises, Epistemological Problems of Economics, p. 80.
6. Ibid., p. 13.
7. Ibid. p. 133.
8. Ibid. p. 169.
9. Mises. Economic Freedom and Interventionism, p. 1.
10. Ibid., p. 5. See: Vladimir Solovyov. The Justification of the
Good: An Essay on Moral Philosophy. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William
B. Eerdmans Publishing Company), p. 2005.
(c) Pedro Blas Gonzalez 2011
II. 'EMERGENCIES AND THE MASS MEDIA' BY MAXIMILIANO KORSTANJE
In Argentina, there is an unfortunate lack of interest in
disaster-related literature. Unlike other parts of the world -- such
as the United States or Europe -- psychology, anthropology and
sociology seem not to be interested in studying issues relating to
disasters and emergencies. Even though, in recent years, Argentine
citizens have witnessed how the world has been subject to many
natural and made-man disasters, the subject is still not studied or
taught in university. To some extent, the literature of disasters
seems to be part of fiction or is consumed as a form of entertainment
instead being treated as a scientific discipline.
Whenever a mega-disaster shocks public opinion -- for example of
Tsunami in Asia, the World Trade Center attacks, the bombings in
Spain and England, mass floods in Brazil, the earthquakes in Chile
and Haiti, hurricanes like Katrina in US, or the SARS outbreak in
Hong Kong -- journalism recurs to a chain of experts who explain to
lay people how the disaster emerges and how it can be avoided. The
lack of scientific study in the management of disasters and
catastrophes in Argentina generates a serious problem for lay-people
because they are more vulnerable to the information given by mass
media, first of all TN, the main Argentine mega-corporation dedicated
to journalism and cultural entertainment. The greater involvement of
the mass media is worse for the community because vital information
Thus, the extreme weather we have come across recently, which is a
product of global warming, wreaks havoc in local developing economies
while at the same time paving the way for a new form of entertainment
based on the suffering of others. Just like tourism or other leisure
related activities, global warming becomes in a mode of cultural
entertainment. In spite of the thousands of conferences, films, books
and papers warning about the effects of this process, industrialized
countries continue to increase the emission of gases to the
atmosphere. The paradox arises simply because the social system tends
to create fiction to perpetuate its own sense of reality.
Everyone recognizes exactly what kinds of activity lead to the
contamination of the ozone layer, such as driving a car or using a
PC, but since the individual act of contamination is not linked to
predictable punishment, one does a selfish cost-benefit analysis. As
a final outcome of this decision-making process, the subject
complains about the effects of global warming while at the same time
trivializing their own contribution to the problem.
Starting from the premise that journalism needs to prophesise about
an illness but at the same time offers a cure, the present piece
focuses on the lack of interest of the Argentine State in funding
research into disaster management that can give insight to would-be
practitioners and planners in a near future. Study of disaster
management is currently split up amongst biologists, doctors,
geographers, geologists, meteorologists, rescuers or fire-fighters.
Even though one admits each one of these specialists is familiar with
their own scope of knowledge, in truth they are unaware of the need to
know how to communicate information, e.g. for a planned evacuation in
order not to trigger a climate of alarmism in the population.
Media coverage of disasters can be analyzed into four aspects. The
following remarks have been based on my personal experience and
field-work observation in the context of emergencies:
First, mass media evaluates the potential emotional impact on public
opinion. News is included or excluded by the gate-keeper on the basis
of its potential for provoking an emotional reaction. Thus, the
vulnerability of victims is considered of paramount importance at
time of deciding what news should be broadcast on air or by the
press. On the pretext of giving assistance to involved victims, mass
media expresses the sentiment of piety and charity as a mediated form
of consumption and cultural entertainment.
The second element in this play is the manipulation of fear.
Journalism and the media construct an apocalyptic meaning of the
disaster whose aim is indoctrination. Fear not only triggers mass
consumption of goods but also reduces the degree of discontent in the
population. This psychological state of angst merges the probability
(risk) with the thought of mere possibility. For example, there is a
low probability that I will die because of an airplane accident but
that may nevertheless weigh on my mind. This remote possibility can
be real in my imagination, however improbable in concrete reality.
Thus, what the media does with great efficiency is replace the
principle of probability with possibility generating a state of
confusion. When the boundaries between fantasy and reality break, a
sentiment of panic surfaces.
The third aspect is the reinforcement of moral rules. At times of
uncertainty people need a viable framework to understand what is
happening. The mass media offers to provide viewers with moral
guidelines that place the events in the context of a judgment. This
belief merely serves to reinforce the material and moral order of
society. What is important in this type of coverage is not the
details of the event as such or its impact but rather the opportunity
to remind viewers of what is considered 'good' or 'bad'. The role
played by expertise is important in this process. One of the
strengths of this discourse consists in mingling a wide range of
causes into similar effects. In that way, a devastating hurricane
such as Katrina is placed in the same disaster scenario as a
Lastly, there is a strong ideological component that accommodates the
event into mythical archetypes of other similar events which have
taken place in the past.
Basically, these four facets can be seen in all news coverage
regardless of culture or nation. Nonetheless, the problem lies not
only in the sensationalism of experts who promote fear and paranoia
throughout the population without scientific basis, but also in the
needs of the audience and the desire for profit. Mass media not only
orchestrates the deficiencies of the system for specific political
purposes, but echoes the citizenship's discontent in the streets
appealing to the misery of more vulnerable people. In that way, the
media gains seeming legitimacy and the power to negotiate with
From a psychological perspective, one might observe that the
sentiment of fear seems to be an unlimited resource for enhancing
consumption. What is worthwhile to take into consideration here, is
how the lack of sustainable disaster-related literature, the
manipulation of information by government as well as the ignorance of
popular opinion in developing countries promote these types of
strategies where credibility becomes an exchangeable asset.
This short article has been aimed at stimulating the discussion of an
issue that should be developed in Argentina for no other reason than
because preparedness for disasters plays a pivotal role in saving
lives. The academic study of disaster management is necessary to
prevent the hegemony of the media.
(c) Maximiliano Korstanje 2011
III. CALL FOR PAPERS: PHILOSOPHY OF MANAGEMENT 2012
The 8th Philosophy of Management International Conference 2012
St Anne's College Oxford
19-22 July 2012
Organised by Philosophy of Management
Philosophy of Management 2012 is the eighth in a series of
conferences open to all. It will be of special interest to
philosophers, management researchers and teachers, consultants and
Following the established model at St Anne's College we are designing
an event to offer opportunities for unhurried presentation of papers
and discussion, high-quality supportive interaction and feedback,
ample opportunity for networking and a gathering in which all
participants can pursue informal, rich conversations and the
continuing exploration of shared concerns. Participants will be
limited to 75 plus plenary speakers.
Contributions are invited to any of the Conference tracks -- or on
any aspect of philosophy of management and from within any cultural
or philosophical tradition. We will especially welcome papers, panels
and workshops on the relationship between philosophy and management
Papers will be blind-reviewed, appear on the Conference Papers
website and revised versions will be considered for publication in a
forthcoming issue of Philosophy of Management.
Papers combining empirical research and case studies with
philosophical treatment of issues will be particularly welcome in all
1. Is 'Sustainability' Sustainable?
Track convenor: Wim Vandekerckhove
Sustainability has become a household name. The discourses of carbon
emissions and climate change have rendered it urgent such that
'sustainable' is now a must for everything we do or plan. Perhaps
paradoxically it has become a driver for organisational change far
beyond the domain of ecological sustainability.
This track welcomes papers that critically examine the various
practices justified through the concept of sustainability. Welcomed
contributions could cover the following:
• How far can we stretch the concept? What could it mean that it does
not yet mean? What does it mean now that it used not to mean?
• Does 'sustainable' add anything previous denominators lacked?
• Are some sustainable practices unethical?
• Is there such a thing as 'sustainable human resources management'?
• What does financial sustainability tell us about reward management?
• How has the notion of sustainability reshaped the distribution of
responsibilities between State, corporations, and citizens?
• Is there a totalitarian tendency in sustainability? Can we afford
to say or do the unsustainable?
• Is sustainable management utopian?
2. Wisdom in Management
Track convenors: Steven Gold and Bernard McKenna
(Professor of Management University of Queensland)
Wisdom has not recently been a significant area of interest for
philosophers, but oddly it has received serious attention in the
disciplines of psychology and management. Since these are applied
fields of study with practical implications defining what wisdom is,
operationalizing it, measuring it, and applying it presents a wide
array of interesting problems. This track opens the topic of wisdom
up from the purely theoretical to the applied. Topics of interest
• Whose wisdom? In the Western tradition, Aristotle and the Christian
tradition from the Old Testament to Aquinas dominate the philosophical
tradition. How do they differ? What do 'Eastern' and Indigenous
cultures have to say?
• Building communities of wisdom: As wisdom emerges from tradition
and practice, is it possible to overcome the ephemera, individualism,
and narcissism that dominates much of popular culture?
• Prudence is regarded as a crucial element of wisdom: why was it so
lacking in the behaviour of corporations and governments in economic
and financial policy and practice?
• Can we teach or teach for wisdom?
• Ancient western philosophy and modern psychological theorists agree
that virtue is core to wisdom. What do we mean by virtue?
• The search for meaning. How can we get beyond the meaning-of-life
fads to talk about meaningfulness?
• What does wisdom have to say about sustainability? Aristotelian
wisdom is built on the notion of eudaimonia (the good life): how can
wisdom show us the principles of a sustainable good life?
• Wisdom requires intelligence and knowledge. What sorts of
intelligence and knowledge produce wisdom?
• Psychologists have attempted to operationalize and measure wisdom
using implicit (e.g., Sternberg, Ardelt, Webster) and explicit
theories of wisdom (Baltes, Staudinger). Is wisdom so ineffable as to
be beyond measurement?
3. Legitimacy and Management
Track convenor: Miriam Green
Management and its role has been a subject of interest at least since
Berle and Means' The Modern Corporation and Private Property (1932).
In recent decades managers have been working in a context where the
market and market values have acquired dominance in public as well as
private organisations; where bureaucratic structures have been
weakened in favour of more flexibility and freedom for managers;
where corporations have increased their power nationally and
internationally and have developed strong corporate cultures
internally; and where inequalities in wealth and power among managers
and others have increased exponentially.
This raises questions surrounding the long-standing question of
management legitimacy, specifically about managerial values, goals
and practices, the character of a good manager, how we should judge
managers, the legitimacy of their roles and the future of management
Contributions are welcomed and could include the following topics::
• Manager and management identities
• Virtue ethics in relation to managers
• The accountability of managers -- to whom?
• The legitimacy of management
• Managers in strong corporate cultures -- their loyalties, values
• Whistleblowing -- by managers and regarding managers
• Bureaucratic vs flexible organisation structures and the effects of
the weakening of bureaucratic principles in many organisations on
conceptions of managerial ethics
• Remuneration for managers -- how do we judge what is acceptable?
• Management and other stakeholders -- which other stakeholders
should be catered for to ensure legitimacy?
• Management theory and its interpretations and applications by
managers: successes and failures
• The future of management
• The Management Oath
4. On the Possibility of a Public Sector Management Philosophy
Track convenor: Paul Griseri
Over the last couple of decades there has been an increasing trend
for public sector management to draw from private sector models. The
sloganised idea of a 'New' Public Management based on emulation of
private sector practices has become an orthodoxy. Privatisation, and
its cognates such as internal markets for service provision, have led
to a gradual diminishing of the concept of public service as a value
in its own right. Management approaches such as performance
measurement, developed for the management of companies, and more
specifically finding their most clear application to activities such
as manufacturing, are applied in the complex arena of public service
Underlying this is the belief that an organisation that is structured
and intended to provide a public service may be compared directly in
terms of its basic operational drivers with one that is structured
and intended to generate profits for its owners and/ or shareholders.
There are however drawbacks to this -- the hierarchy of financial
ratios, for example, that provides an elegant means of evaluating the
overall performance of a company, has no simple analogue for, say, an
education or social welfare function of government. Simply put, the
oil that greases a company's cogs and wheels is profit -- all and any
activity may be assessed in terms of what it might add to the bottom
line, whether such activities be directly linked to costs and sales,
or are more remote areas such as CSR programmes or brand recognition
initiatives. No such financially founded lubricant exists in a
parallel manner for the public sector.
One basic question, therefore, underlying this track is how far might
a modelling of the public sector on the private be appropriate. The
New Public Management has, arguably, grown old, and the plight of
many governments in 2011 suggests that it has not achieved its stated
aims in any case. Therefore, it is necessary to return to the question
of what models successfully capture the several key features of the
public sector, such as the idea of public accountability, the
acquisition and use of resources, the ideal of public service, and
the relation between the public sector and other, non-governmental
A further issue is the division between public and private sector
activities. During the Keynesian era, it was common for developed
economies to have a significant degree of publicly-owned enterprise,
in the form of state airlines, state corporations involved in mining
and extraction, state retail banking. Whilst this has not
disappeared, it has diminished, driven by a reduced idea of the state
as providing solely the infrastructure and frameworks for other
economically valuable activities to be conducted via markets.
Papers are therefore welcomed that address questions such as the
• What is the nature of 'public service'?
• How can performance against resource and financial imperatives be
meaningfully compared to impact on social needs and benefits?
• Where should the lines be drawn between public and private economic
• How far can the financial conception of a company provide a basis
for evaluating public sector activities?
• To what extent can there be a conception of public sector
management that persists beyond the immediate circumstances and
interests of governments, citizens and enterprises?
• In the light of the current crises of economic debt attending much
of the developed world, how far can and should the state support
private enterprise when it is failing?
5. Moving Philosophy of Management into the Management
Curriculum Track convenor: Nigel Laurie
If philosophy of management is to inform management practice then it
needs to shape management education. This track invites theoretical
and empirical contributions on the relationship between philosophy of
management as a field of study and as a subject in the management
curriculum. Contributions on any aspect will be welcomed including
• Arguments for and against including philosophy of management in the
• Reviews of issues and case histories relating to acceptance of
philosophy of management as a subject for managers at undergraduate
and graduate levels
• Curriculum design: examples of philosophy of management programmes,
philosophical components in other subjects programmes, materials and
• Evaluations of existing teaching programmes
• Explorations of relationships between philosophy of management and
other management subjects
• Discussion of the relationship between philosophy of management and
• Approaches to, and techniques for, developing philosophical skills
• The identification and preparation of qualified teachers in
As in French academic conferences, the 'divers' track is reserved for
papers on any other aspect of philosophy of management and they will
be very welcome.
• Plenary session with invited leading speakers
• Presentations of papers in parallel sessions
• Workshops, panel discussions and interviews
• Poster presentations
We invite participants to propose collaborative formats for their
sessions: e.g. paper, prepared reply and moderated discussion;
contrasting approaches to an issue with papers from theorists and
practitioners. Contributors are welcome to assemble small panels to
offer a series of linked papers.
The language of the conference will be English.
Please submit a 500 word abstract proposal with contact details and
brief cv all in one WORD (or equivalent) file to arrive by Monday 9
January 2012. (Please do not submit full length papers at this stage.)
Please indicate the track to which you wish to contribute.
Please name your file as follows: (yoursurname-papertitle).doc
Email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Papers will be double-blind peer reviewed.
Proposal abstracts due
Contributors informed of acceptance
Full papers due
Notification of conference tracks
Issue of conference programme and full set of abstracts to all
Please note that the texts of all papers will be available before the
conference on the conference papers website. Speakers will speak to
their abstracts which will be issued by email on 22 June.
Conference booking details will be posted to this list shortly. Two
rates will be available:
1. Conference presenters: full conference attendance
2. Non-presenters and doctoral/ postdoctoral student presenters:
special day rate
Fees will not exceed those for the 2010 conference.
Dr Steven Gold
Former Senior Lecturer in Organisation Studies, Department of
Management and Professional Development, London Metropolitan
Dr Paul Griseri
Managing Editor Philosophy of Management, Former Head of Management,
Founding Editor, Philosophy of Management, management consultant and
Visiting Senior Teaching Fellow, Royal Holloway School of Management
Dr David Seth Preston
Reader in Information Ethics, University of East London and member of
the Editorial Board, Philosophy of Management
Chairman, Henderson EuroTrust plc, Visiting Fellow at Cranfield
School of Management
Dr Wim Vandekerckhove
Senior Lecturer, Human Resources & Organisational Behaviour
Department, University of Greenwich Business School
Please forward this to anyone who would be interested. Thank you.
Founding and Consulting Editor
Philosophy of Management
PO Box 217
Surrey RH8 8AJ
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