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The Challenges of Capitalism for Virtue Ethics and the Common Good

The Challenges of Capitalism for Virtue Ethics and the Common Good

Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Edited by Kleio Akrivou and Alejo José G Sison

The evolution of modern capitalist society is increasingly being marked by an undeniable and consistent tension between pure economic and ethical ways of valuing and acting. This book is a collaborative and cross-disciplinary contribution that challenges the assumptions of capitalist business and society. It ultimately reflects on how to restore benevolence, collaboration, wisdom and various forms of virtuous deliberation amongst all those who take part in the common good, drawing inspiration from European history and continental philosophical traditions on virtue.

Chapter 4: Virtuous banking: the role of the community in monitoring English joint-stock banks and their managements in the nineteenth century

Victoria Barnes and Lucy Newton

Subjects: business and management, business ethics and trust, business leadership, corporate social responsibility


Following the financial crisis of 1825¬–26, liberalizing legislation led to the establishment of joint-stock banks (JSBs) in competition with the existing private banking institutions. JSBs successfully established themselves from 1826 onwards, to the extent that they eclipsed the private banks by the end of the century and became the dominant form of bank in the UK. This chapter considers the behaviour and decision-making of the directors and managers of the new JSBs. It was in the interests of JSBs to govern themselves responsibly and honestly/virtuously in order to establish a trustworthy reputation and to remain accountable to the communities that they served. But did such moral obligation also lead to moral practice?

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