This thesis offers a conceptual justification for the application of virtue ethics in a secular setting as a modified form of education for emotional intelligence supported by contemplative practices. Emotions and their regulation are considered as vital for ethical development. The difficulties in delivering ethics education in business schools where it is assumed that human moral decision-making is predominately conscious and reason-based will be considered. It is acknowledged that this orientation of ethics education in business schools is difficult to change because it is based on our western culture’s deep roots and emphasis on science and reason that business schools embrace. To address this scientific orientation, recent neuroscience findings are presented, arguing that while reason plays an important role in moral development, in fact unconscious processes and emotions play a much more significant role in moral behaviour. Following this, Daoist contemplative practices that emphasize the value of the unconscious and emotions are broadly investigated for insights that may inform ethics education. Scientifically supported aspects of contemplative practices are identified, and an ethics pedagogy for business leaders that incorporates emotional intelligence and contemplative practices is proposed. An account is given of the introduction of such a program in a business undergraduate course at the University of British Columbia, Sauder School of Business. This study is interdisciplinary, drawing from virtue ethics, Daoist thinking, psychology, and neuroscience to inform ethics pedagogy. The research orientation of this thesis is towards making a practical contribution to the advancement of teaching ethics in a business school setting.
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Thesis advisor: Bai, Heesoon
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