In her 2006 book, The Bourgeois Virtues, economist and philosopher Deirdre McCloskey argued that what fundamentally drives economic development and growth is not so much government intervention or unrestricted libertinism but a set of “bourgeois virtues” that celebrates classical liberalism while powering the innovation that gave rise to modern economies. Drawing on the seven virtues proposed by St. Thomas Aquinas, McCloskey discusses the ways in which each virtue interfaced with the other six and their critical roles in the history of economic development. This article builds on her insights by making two moves. McCloskey, a skeptic of neo-institutional philosophies, does not consider significantly virtue’s application to commercial organizations. I argue, however, that these ideas do matter to the organization and operation of businesses and similar institutions. In fact, I suggest that the ideology and ethics of institutions function as part of a dialectical conversation between the institutional “ontology” that forms the moral character of its members and those members, who, in turn, (re)form the institution’s ethics. Second, if institutions can embody virtues, how the cardinal virtues—prudentia, temperantia, fortitudo, and iustitia—figure institutionally is not difficult. More challenging is how the theological virtues—love, faith, and hope—which seem to apply to individuals, can apply. Thus, this article argues for how these virtues can be embodied in business organizations, concluding that such a framework allows for a “trinitarian” understanding of the economy as a perichoretic dynamic between the consumer, business organizations, and political/legal structures. In doing so, it criticizes and provides a way out of prevailing political dynamics that often pit individual freedom against institutions.

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