International Society for Philosophers

Philosophy for Business
electronic journal

ISSN 2043-0736

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Philosophie & Wirtschaft


Daniel Silvermintz

Tom C. Veblen

Marco Senatore

Peter S Borkowski

Dena Hurst

Sean Jasso


Geoffrey Klempner

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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 81
3rd May 2017

Edited by Tom Veblen


I. 'The Evolving Commercial Society' by Jack Clumpkens

II. 'The New Shape of Work and Play' by Peter Miller

III. 'Translating Human Endeavor Into Human Well-Being' by Tom Veblen


Philosophizing on Business in Society

In May 1993 a dozen of us, experienced business persons all, sat down
to compare notes on the state of world and our place in it. It was
becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with the changes in our
markets and industries and with the blizzard of government diktats
regulating the conduct of our business affairs.

We talked it through. Given the social, cultural, and economic forces
driving our industries and firms, it was apparent that the time had
come to think and act anew. And so we decided to do just that,
committing to deepen our understanding about the meaning of business
and superiority.

To give our inquiry traction we named it The Superior Business Firm
Roundtable, and adopted a maxim:

Where there is much desire to learn, there of necessity will be much arguing, much writing, many opinions; for opinion among good men is but knowledge in the making. John Milton
Getting to the heart of the matter What our extended dialectic reveals is a "way of business" that leads to superiority (excellence). It begins with the practitioner. To master the art of business the superior practitioner comprehends the grand scheme of things, creates a superior business scheme, and materializes a winning endeavor. Self-governing they learn by doing. Honing their practice through the continual rediscovery and renewal of purpose and principle, they press on through the vagaries of fortune to capitalize on opportunity as it arises. Mindful American business persons understand that their work does not stop with simply creating and managing material wealth. Experiencing business as a distinct kind of human endeavor, they understand that its higher purpose is to advance human well-being through the creation and management of material wealth. They recognize that the contributions of business to the health and vigor of their society has a direct bearing on their own survival and prosperity. Business practitioners who succeed exhibit a proclivity for action and achievement, possess a high tolerance for ambiguity and risk, and show a sustained capacity for learning and personal growth which leads, in the end, to wisdom. It is no surprise, given the tenacity of those drawn to The Superior Business Firm Roundtable's mission and methodology, that there emerged naturally from its dialectic a philosophy of business. Its basic tenets: * Being human, business is paradoxical, exhibiting all the good and bad proclivities of human nature-greed and magnanimity, selfishness and big-heartedness, fear and courage, right and wrong, and so forth. In chorus it is a collaborative endeavor, an adversarial contest, and a moral drama. * As a social and cultural phenomenon, American business advances national well-being by creating and astutely managing wealth. The metaphysical component of this wealth -- the knowledge and wisdom accumulated by practitioners -- is particularly valuable in advancing the nation's modernization. * Superior business practitioners pursue the art of business in a principled manner, creating and managing wealth within the limits imposed by their capabilities, community charter, and market circumstance. * There is a right Way of Business that leads to superior business performance and accomplishment. * The vagaries of fortune play a strong role in determining the outcome for any business venture. * Solving the practical problems of business day to day, and year to year, superior business persons build up bodies of information and judgement applicable to solving social problems at all levels of human endeavor. * Modern business is self-governing. Socially symbiotic, it enables the flourishing of commercial society. * Commercial society holds promise for creating an enlightened world order. Extending the inquiry A fundamental challenge for business persons is, of course, how to better their endeavor, individually and institutionally. To comprehend this process in a world gone "digital and global," The Superior Business Firm Roundtable focuses on the driving trends. These include: * In the realm of productivity, (the inner workings of business), increasingly sophisticated technologies, shifting human values, and more complex organizational forms; * In the realm of competition, (the marketplace), globalization, e-commerce, and social regulation; and, * In the realm of community, (the whole of society), increasing diversity, cultural tensions, and strained societal governance. Essays by Roundtable members log our progress toward understanding the implications for business of the changes occurring in commercial society, work, and social governance. Here are three of them. (c) Tom C. Veblen 2017 Email: -=- The Evolving Commercial Society by Jack Clumpkens Jack Clumpkens emigrated from the Netherlands to the United States in 1991. Educated at the University of Amsterdam, his business career has been with Dutch Telecom, and now with the American subsidiary of the Airbus Defense & Space, Inc. Clumpkens resides in Arlington, Virginia. Contact: Western Civilization's Enlightenment builds on the belief that human betterment -- individually, institutionally, and communally -- is possible. Adam Smith, one of the Enlightenment's most prescient interpreters, tells us that "commercial society" is the preferred way for a society to advance this notion of modernization. Commercial society has proven to be a profoundly transforming concept. States adopting the concept experience significant and sustainable advance in their society's well-being. Throughout the world there is emerging a growing cadre of business practitioners and firms intent on creating and executing winning business schemes. How enlightened they are, or will become, is the critical issue, for it is the enlightened practitioner and firm that shows the way to modernity by practicing their art, thus weaving themselves into the very fabric of their culture and society. Is the notion of business-centricity still the right one for our society today? By whose measure? Can it elicit the innovation and growth needed for our society to prosper in a globalizing world? The full case for revitalizing our society as a collaborative or commercial state awaits specification. And whose job is that? See more... Society.pdf -=- The New Shape of Work and Play by Peter Miller Peter Miller is an internationally recognized master of photogravure etching. His business experience includes time spent with SRI International and the founding of Access Japan KK and the Kamakura Print Collection. Miller resides in Kamakura, Japan. Contact: Web: Nations that started out as commercial societies, and those that have reinvented themselves, like the United States, have experienced remarkable gains in material prosperity. Societies wise enough to share these gains widely have generally been content to entrust business practitioners with the responsibility for creating, prudently managing, and investing social capital. Social capital becomes increasingly difficult to manage as material prosperity grows. It is this paradox that Peter Miller addresses in his essay The New Shape of Work and Play. Radically challenging the notion of jobs as the all-consuming purpose of social policy, Miller's essay suggests a balance of work and play are a more fitting objective. Everyone knows their best ideas originate in freedom from constraint. Why not, then, use the stunning advances in productivity and automation wrought by industrial and cybernetic revolutions to release everyone's creative energy, not merely that of a happy few? See more... Play.pdf -=- Translating Human Endeavor into Human Well-Being by Tom Veblen Tom Veblen is convener of the Superior Business Firm Roundtable, and one of its founders. His business career includes leadership positions with Cargill, Incorporated and Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International). He founded and directed two business consultancies, Food System Associates, Inc. and its successor Enterprise Consulting, Inc. Veblen resides in Washington, DC. Contact: The outpouring of new ideas and ways of doing things experienced in the U. S. is a direct result of its exceptional scheme of societal governance. The United States' founders, passionate about individual liberty, organized their nation as a Grand Republic, imbuing it with the principles underlying "commercial society." [1] The United States' two centuries of modernization has been a learn-by-doing process of betterment. The result: an historic outpouring of innovative ideas, novel technologies, and valued goods and services that advances human well-being, orchestrated in important ways by business. Here's the thing. Will we continue to view ourselves as a society in transition? A society reinventing itself. Evolving. A society of self-governing individuals and institutions disposed to capitalize on change, rather than being plagued by it. A society in which motivated business leaders bring their experience-gained wisdom to the paramount issue of societal governance and management-locally, nationally, and globally. Or not? See more... _Human_Well-Being.pdf -=- A book summarizing the Roundtable's dialectic -- Business: The Heart of the Matter, An Inquiry into Purpose and Principle -- is slated for publication May, 2017. Look for it on Amazon. For information contact: The Superior Business Firm Roundtable Email: