You are on page 1of 7

BUS1050 Group Project Due: April 30, 2014

Brianna Miner
Brett Palmer
Carl Goodfellow
Valerie Wilson
Zara Guinard-Bachman

Relevance to BUS1050:
Benjamin Franklin was an incredibly brilliant man of his time. In the second part of his
autobiography pages 38-he seeks to find moral perfection by practicing and acquiring a
list of 13 virtues. Many of these virtues are traits that as a society we find admirable in a
person. One could make the claim that in todays modern business world, the practice
and application of the 13 virtues to business practices could create a more ethical
system. The idea of course would have to be started independently by determined and
strong willed executives who by their example could create a better world for all. When
money, economics, and personal enterprise are at the heart of all interactions, locally
and globally, then it would greatly benefit everyone to uphold a moral standard
personally and professionally. Ben Franklin says, I grew convinced that truth, sincerity
and integrity in dealings between man and man were of the utmost importance to the
felicity of life.
This text is relevant to the course in that many of the works read this semester are
thought provoking pieces on what we may consider ethical when we think of business
practices. This applies to the ethic of business in that all people would benefit from
bettering themselves and in terms of employers and executives, leading by example is
the best way to motivate the employee.
At the end of Franklins journey to moral perfection he concludes, on the whole, though
I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of
it, yet I was, by the endeavour, a better and happier man than I otherwise should have
been had I not attempted it.

Summary:
Around 1730, while in his late 20s, American publisher and future statesman Benjamin
Franklin listed thirteen virtues that he felt were important guides for living. Along with
each virtue, Franklin included a principle to follow thatin his opinionwould define a
person of good character.
These virtues can be divided into personal behavior and social character traits. Franklin
tried to follow these guides in his life, although he often went astray, he was quick to say
that he felt as though that attempting these helped him feel as though he had become a
better person.

The Virtues:
1. Temperance:
Eat not to dullness, drink not to elevation.
This virtue espouses the need for moderation, especially in drink. Franklin also has the
virtue moderation, however it is possible that he struggled with drink in particular and
therefore wanted to ensure that it was not a vice from the beginning. By gaining control
over this virtue he inadvertently gains success with Moderation also. The example of
eating to dullness and drinking to elevation shows that there can be an excess of lifes
pleasures that lead to reduced work output and inefficiency. Accomplishing this virtue
would also benefit in the acquisition of the virtues Chastity, and Frugality.

2. Silence
Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
Trifling is that of which is unimportant or trivial. Some synonyms are- insignificant,
petty, and minor. In other words, it is not necessary to talk about unimportant things. It is
best to speak with intent, and only at the right times when they are meaningful.
Otherwise to be silent, and spend more time listening, learning, and observing. Silence
does not mean never talking but refers to knowing when to avoid confrontation. Avoid
talking about frivolous matters and only share what is truly important.

3. Order: Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its
time.
Order is something that one would expect very necessary in any business or personal
life. We all know those people who are continually scattered and seemingly scatter
brained. Comically enough even the brilliant Ben Franklin had a difficult time with Order.
Here is what he had to say on his attempt with this virtue, I had not been early
accustomed to it, and, having an exceeding good memory, I was not so sensible of the
inconvenience attending want of method. This article, therefore, cost me so much
painful attention, and my faults in it vexed me so much, and I made so little progress in
amendment, and had such frequent relapses, that I was almost ready to give up the
attempt, and content myself with a faulty character in that respect.


4. Resolution:
Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
Once Resolution becomes habitual, would keep a person firm in their endeavors to
obtain all of the subsequent virtues.

5. Frugality:
"Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself, i.e., waste nothing."
He believed by being wealthy, free of debt, and independent that it would also make it
easier to convey sincerity.

6. Industry:
Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
Industry refers not only to making good use of your time by avoiding unnecessary tasks,
but also avoiding seeking out huge rewards for doing minimal work.

7. Sincerity:
"Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly."
He says "vicious actions are not hurtful because they are forbidden, but forbidden
because they are hurtful, the nature of man alone considered; that it was, therefore,
everyone's interest to be virtuous who wished to be happy even in this world;" ..that "no
qualities were so likely to make a poor man's fortune as those of probity and integrity."
Definition of probity- the quality of having strong moral principles; honesty and decency.

8. Justice:
Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
This virtue ties in to sincerity above. It means being honest in all endeavors and by
doing what you know to be morally and ethically correct. In a larger sense justice can be
considered taking the course of action with the least reprehensible consequences that
will create the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

9. Moderation:
Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
This virtue is easily accomplished conjunction with a few of the other virtues including;
temperance, frugality, chastity, and industry. Moderation is another word for balance. All
things in life require a certain degree of balance, work with home life, exercise with rest,
and many other are all more enjoyable when balanced and enjoyed in moderate
quantities.

10. Cleanliness:
Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.
Cleanliness shows a sense of caring and attention to detail. By keeping our body, mind,
and surroundings clean we are able to stay focused, healthy, and show that one has a
certain level of self- respect.

11. Tranquility:
Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
The irritations of modern life have left many men hot under the collar. Controlling ones
anger is the mark of a cool and composed gentleman.

12. Chastity:
Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury
of your own or another's peace or reputation.
Chastity is defined as purity in conduct and intention as well as personal integrity. In
business today it seems that the only way to get ahead is through being dishonest. It is
quite the contrary, success is found when a business man can stand firmly and
confidently behind the service or product being offered. When others involved in
business are treated with honesty and integrity the same will more often than not be
returned. No one wants to be involved with a business or individual that is dishonest.

13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
Humility is a very difficult trait to acquire, there are few people that are truly modest.
Even Ben Franklin found this trait difficult for he found that in acquiring this trait he
would become proud of his humility which of course puts him back at square one. It is
the reason that Ben Franklin started with the virtue Temperance, moderation in all
things is the key to achieving a felicitous balance.



Questions and Answers:

Q: How would the application of the 13 virtues by a modern day businessman affect his
business practices?

A: A modern day businessman would do well to apply Benjamin Franklins 13 virtues to
his home and work life. Accomplishing proficiency of these virtues would have very
positive correlations to increased work output and satisfaction. The virtues are things
that successful people are admired for, practicing these virtues would lead to more
honest business practices. More honest business would in turn eventually lead to
greater good for everyone and not just the persons at the top of the pyramid. In the
world of business, having a basic guideline of what most consider moral would create
an environment success and respect.

Q. How would being frugal and sincere contribute to the overall morality of business if it
were to be applied?

A: By being frugal, you are spending money only on necessities, this contributes to the
overall well being of yourself and others, taking out the materialistic mindset. By staying
free of debt and managing your money wisely, you are able to be independent. It sets
up a person who is sustaining themselves and contributing to society in a positive way.
If businesses were less concerned about making money for unnecessary evils, and
being more concerned about their contribution to society, it would make for overall
better relationships. Being sincere goes hand-in-hand with frugality, because by being
independent and thinking modestly, you are able to be humble and be concerned less
about yourself and more about others.

Q: Why is Resolution so important when considered within the other virtues according to
Benjamin Franklin?

A: Once Resolution becomes habitual, it would keep us firm in all endeavors and to
obtain all the subsequent virtues discussed in this chapter. Resolution is akin to
motivation and determination, two things that are necessary if we are to be consistent in
our efforts towards a specific goal or outcome.

Q: At the beginning of page 38, Benjamin Franklin said,
It was about this time I conceived the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral
perfection. I wished to live without committing any fault at any time; I would conquer all
that either natural inclination, custom, or company might lead me into.
Do you think it possible to live a life of moral perfection?

A: It is possible that Franklin dramatized this statement to get a point across but it would
be near impossible to be morally perfect. Perfection is only what a person interprets it to
be and everyone has different morals. A person can possibly live by their own morals.
Its interesting that one of the virtues is Moderation when attempting to live by 13
distinct virtues at the same time is a fairly extreme sense of living. Ben Franklin also
realizes the improbability of becoming morally perfect when he states his difficulty with
the virtue Humility. In reality, there is perhaps no one of our natural passions so hard to
subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases,
it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself: you will see it,
perhaps, often in this history; for even if I could conceive that I had completely
overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.

Q: Order What is Benjamin Franklins interpretation of order as a virtue? How is the
virtue of order being lost in modern society?

A: Ben Franklin considered order beyond just being organized but as a time
management tool. He believed to have order all things have their place and time
including business.

In my opinion and our uber connected world of cellular smart phones and mobile
computing that business is increasingly bleeding more and more into personal time.
Mr. Franklin admittedly struggled with this virtue as we do now.

Q: Humility How did the virtue of humility come to be added to Mr. Franklins list of 13
virtues?

A: A friend of Benjamin Franklins reminded him that he could be a proud individual
suggesting that he add humility to his list of virtues. Mr. Franklin described humility as
being more like Socrates and Jesus.

Sources
Franklin, Benjamin. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. Ed. Joyce E.
Chaplin. New York: W. W. Norton, 2012. Print. Norton Critical Editions.

Franklin, Benjamin. "The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin." ushistory.org: The
Electric
Ben Franklin. Independence Hall Association, 4 July 1995. Web. 29 Apr. 2014.
<http://www.ushistory.org/franklin/autobiography/index.htm>.