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What is the relevance of philosophy in the modern business world?
Bachelor / 23 September, 2016
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Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Christine Tiefensee is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, where she teaches within the ‘Management, Philosophy & Economics’ degree programme. She was educated at the Universities of Mannheim, Mainz and Nottingham, completing her MA studies in Philosophy and Political Science at Mainz University in 2006. In the same year, she moved to the University of Cambridge, where she first studied towards an M.Phil degree in Philosophy before examining the intricate relationship between metaethical expressivism and minimalism about truth as part of her Doctorate. Following graduation in 2011 with her Ph.D thesis ‘Expressivism, Minimalism and Moral Doctrines’, she briefly ventured into the world of policy research, only to return to academia in 2012 when she joined the Political Theory Department at the University of Bamberg. Her move to the Frankfurt School followed in 2014. Christine’s main research focus centres on metaethics and broader questions of normativity, seeking to combine her metaethical research with current developments particularly in the philosophy of language. She is also interested in ethics, rationality, political thought and the philosophy of the social sciences. Christine is currently Vice-President of the Association of Analytic Philosophy (GAP).

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Anybody who wants to be successful in a challenging, leading position within business, politics, public administration, or the wider society needs a crucial set of skills: You will need to see quickly through complex issues, put together convincing arguments for or against given proposals, filter relevant from irrelevant information, check the consistency and soundness of policy papers, decide which problems are crucial and identify the issues that are still badly understood. These skills of rigorous analysis, sound argument and critical examination are the bread-and-butter of philosophy: no subject trains our ability for consistent, systematic thought better than philosophy.

Being within a leading position also means being confronted with challenges that not only require a good understanding of very diverse aspects and dimensions, but which can also be solved only by thinking outside the box: What are the positions of others, how convincing are they and do we need to take them into account? How do the different components of a problem interact with one another? How can problems which appear to be very different find similar solutions? Philosophy does not offer answers to these queries. However, engaging with philosophical questions teaches us how to reflect on stances other than our own, to be open for possibly very unorthodox considerations, and to have a supple mind which weaves seemingly unrelated considerations into new ideas in order to solve problems or even resolve crises.

Those who take on key responsibilities within business and society also need a good moral compass: ‘How ought we to deal with whistle-blowers? Should we invest in countries with atrocious human right records? How is funding to be distributed across different areas of R&D? Should we prefer women over men in recruitment processes?’ are just some of the key moral questions faced by businesses and society. Philosophers seek to find answers to these urgent questions. However, they do more than that. For, philosophers also provide tools and approaches which managers themselves can employ when faced with difficult situations: ‘Which features of the situation could be morally relevant? How could we deal with moral conflicts? What are the general issues that we should consider in specific situations?’ are just some examples of questions for which this ‘philosophical toolbox’ provides guidance.

Hence, although philosophy might not be clearly visible within a business world, philosophical training is nonetheless key to any area of multifaceted decision-making, no matter whether this concerns strategic choices, policy priorities or business development.

For more information on our BSc concentration in Management, Philosophy and Economics, click here!